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Well, what went wrong last time we played at the Amex Stadium in Brighton was that we lost 2-1, just as we had done at the Emirates in early December 2019.

Last time.
In that latter game, we had Özil, Mesut Özil, and I just don’t think I understand quite how his situation has arisen, or been allowed to continue, at the club. He won’t be available for this one but he did assist Alexandre Lacazette in that one, for his 50th minute equaliser, which cancelled out Adam Webster’s strike for the visitors. This though was the modern day Arsenal and we found a way of losing in the 80th minute, to a goal from Neal Maupay.

I’m no expert but I believe Maupay translates from his native French as “snide little cheat” ** – a belief borne out by his actions in our Covid-19 delayed fixture at the Amex on 20th June this year. A nasty shove on an unbalanced Bernd Leno resulted in an injury to our keeper that cost us his services for the rest of the season. Sadly, the Frenchman then went on to score a stoppage time winner – of course he did! – which condemned us to a second successive 2-1 loss against that opposition.

** (there are even reports that in the showers of the south coast club, Maupay can often be heard singing “Oh I do like to cheat, be snidely seaside”) Oh yes there are!

It seems I / we may not be alone in disliking Le Mal-pay. In early November, Brighton manager Graham Potter revealed he was left out of the squad to face Tottenham because of an internal ‘incident’. … “I spoke before the game about tactical reasons,” Potter said. However, reports subsequently emerged claiming the 24-year-old had been involved in a heated incident with a colleague and of concerns about the player’s attitude. Sadly, because he can actually be quite good, it seems he has now been restored to the team.

This time.
On a more pleasant note, Danny Welbeck, formerly of this parish, seems to finally have found some fitness and has just played three times in a week – of course he has! – for his new club. He has played 8 times for Brighton since 1st November, scoring 2 goals, and has become the focal point of the Seagulls attack. He is 30 years old now and has missed, as we know, far too much of his career due to a number of serious injuries, incurred while in the employ of Arsenal FC – of course they were! He’s a likeable fella though and we can wish him well for the rest of his career, while still hoping he has an absolute stinker against us. 

The Brighton manager, Graham Potter, is no stranger to us as he was in charge of Swedish side, Ostersunds FK, when we played them in the Europa League in 2018. Having secured a comfortable enough 3-0 victory in Sweden, we lost 1-2 to Potter’s team at the Emirates in the home leg. The game will be “no formality” warned the Arsenal manager at the time, Arsene Wenger – oh yes he was! – and he was not wrong. 

Tomorrow’s game will also be no formality as Potter has them playing some decent football, but who, exactly, are our opponents?

Just for fun.
To give them their full moniker, they are Brighton and Hove Albion FC. Is everyone quite clear on the distinction between Brighton and Hove? Well, ‘tis still the season to be merry after all, so here is comedian Simon Evans to explain in the following clip, while offending the good residents of Brighton and pretty much everyone else 😆 –

And now for something completely different, as the Pythons used to say at the end of a sketch –

The serious bit.
We come into the match on the back of a great win against Chelsea on Boxing Day, great insofar as it has surely shown Mikel Arteta the way ahead. Whatever the problems and rumours at the club are, there is no doubt that everyone in the squad for that Chelsea game was more than happy to give 100% for the manager. The young players who came in, Gabi Martinelli and Emile Smith-Rowe, the now established Bukayo Saka, the ever willing Joe Willock and a slightly older Kieran Tierney, gave the side the pace and creativity it has lacked for a long time.

Maybe, Arteta threw the young players in as a desperate measure or, just maybe, he has been waiting for exactly the right moment in those players’ development and fitness for them to be able to make the impact we’d all been longing for. So who should play against Brighton ?

To be honest I don’t really mind who wears the shirt as long as they fulfil the basic requirements of 100% effort, 100% effort and 100% effort. No-one can ask more than that and no-one should be happy with less than that. If a player is not good enough, that is not his fault as he didn’t recruit or select himself. If he gives less than 100% he should be removed and dropped from the squad. And that 100% should include a genuine fight for his teammates – not the silly squaring up to an opponent and pushing your head in his face because he’s made your shorts muddy – but busting a gut to do your own job and cover your teammates, making yourself available to help them play better and stepping up, within the rules, to protect them if they are getting the “treatment” from the opposition. It does not include the silly, petulant, mock rage at minor indiscretions designed to disguise your general lack of genuine commitment. We have seen at least two costly instances of that this season. No more please.

Thomas Partey’s thigh strain will keep him out of this game. Gabriel will be isolating, having been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 – not another player but someone in his bubble, according to the club website. David Luiz and Willian have apparently reported some symptoms and are not feeling very well, although they have not tested positive for the virus. Reiss Nelson is a bit of a mystery. He is not reported as injured but did not feature at all in the squad for the Chelsea match.
If pushed, I could imagine a team of : 

Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Mari, Tierney, Ceballos, Smith-Rowe, Xhaka, Pepe/Saka, Lacazette, Aubameyang 

I would prefer to see Martinelli continue but feel he might be rested given his very recent return from long term injury. Saka could also start on the bench as he has to rest occasionally too, and while I would prefer Willock or AMN to Ceballos on the right of the three, I believe Mikel Arteta does not.

Whoever is in the side, it is vital over the next five or six games that we capitalise on the win against Chelsea and start to find some consistency.
Brighton come into this one following their 2-2 draw at West Ham on Sunday and so will have had 24 hours less recovery time than ourselves. I can’t pretend to know much about Brighton but they do tend to keep the middle of their defence very compact, so stretching them with good wing play will be important. That may well see Aubameyang in his wide left position again.

Brighton have four players currently in the medical room card school – Lamptey, Izquierdo, Andone and Connolly, none of whom has a definite expected return date, so expect them all to be fighting fit for kick-off.

The Holic Pound
We will start this game in 15th place in the league, with Brighton one place and four points behind us in 16th. The odds on offer from the three bookies I have checked reflect that closeness, with an Arsenal win looking slightly more likely than a Brighton one. The draw seems to be the favoured option but where’s the fun in that ? Betfair are offering 7/1 on a 1-0 Arsenal win, 10/1 on a 2-0 win, and 8/1 on a 2-1 win for the Gunners. A win, a clean sheet and no red card may be gifts that all three wise men can’t quite manage just yet so, were I a betting man, my money would be on the 2-1 to the Arsenal. Good luck if yours is!

The referee is Mr Craig Pawson. Like I said – what could possibly go wrong ? 😏 The match is on Amazon Prime this time at 18.00 UK time. If you’re looking for a stream in the UK, they are all either frozen or have burst their banks !

Enjoy the game, Holics !

77 Drinks to “Seagulls versus Gunners – What Could Possibly Go Wrong ?”

  1. 1
    North Bank Ned says:

    Panto perfect, Trev.

  2. 2
    Countryman100 says:

    Trev, I know how hard you work, and that your physio practice keeps you from writing for the blog as much as you would like to. This really shows us what we are missing when you are otherwise engaged. Funny, well written and full of detail. Great work!

  3. 3
    BtM says:

    Good one, Trev. Realistic team too, although I’d rather none of the Marx Bros started and the prospect of Pepe makes me shiver (and I’m sitting beside a gas fire). Maybe Reiss has been kidnapped by Boko Haram while on a snap vacation to visit Nigerian relatives?

    All about effort and not squandering chances. Hope to see Balogun on the bench.

  4. 4
    TTG says:

    This is an excellent preview and captures the uncertainty of our current situation . I think your team is pretty accurate but I feel Arteta may start a very similar team to Saturday’s but expect Auba to come in for Lacazette.
    Despite being reproved by Cynic that Brighton can’t be very good as they are below us I think highly of Potter as a coach and expect a tough game . I think it will be a draw but I’d love us to win 2-1 as you suggest.

  5. 5
    TTG says:

    Nelson was in training today as was Auba but the presence of hooded terrorists on the touch line suggested he was not a free man !

  6. 6
    Cynic says:

    Did I say Brighton are no good because of that? I don’t think I did…

    Anyway, Gabriel is Covid positive.

  7. 7
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Trev. You wrote a terrible preview there mate.

    *oh no you didn’t!*

  8. 8
    Trev says:

    Thanks fellas.

    Countryman – the first half of what you said is true – the second half is very kind. Cheers !

  9. 9
    bt8 says:

    Certainly brightened my mood.
    Won’t hover long.
    Cheers, Trev. Great preview. 😁

  10. 10
    Bathgooner says:

    It’s behind you, Trev. Nice one, sunshine.

  11. 11
    bt8 says:

    Quarantine song for Gabriel and any other Brazilians who are on our good list.🏝

  12. 12
    Uplympian says:

    Thanks Trev for a very entertaining & informative preview. Let’s hope the pantomime villain Maupay gets his comeuppance later this evening. Your team selection is close but possibly Elneny will continue – Dani warming the bench. We are due 3 points from the hosts and the 2-1 scoreline is a good wager.

  13. 13
    Osakamatt says:

    Very enjoyable festive preview
    thanks Trev.
    We owe the Seagulls a whacking
    so I hope to see one. 3-0.

  14. 14
    bt8 says:

    Would also like to see some whacking of seagulls, who have been shatting on us nonstop in recent times. Not sure what the Audubon Society would say about it.

  15. 15
    Cent says:

    This is top drawer stuff, Trev. I think your team will be pretty much the same Arteta will field tomorrow.

    Osakamatt from the last drinks: like you, I could never fault the players’ efforts in most of our games under Arteta. I maintain the main change in the last game was the system and tactics, not the players suddenly giving some extra 10% in effort percent they previously held back.

    Bt8 @11, I love me some Brazilian music. Here’s one from another Jorge I like: https://youtu.be/2GsBx_SmjOI

  16. 16
    bt8 says:

    Good one, Cent, and a new one for me. 👍🏼

  17. 17
    Esso says:

    Cheers Trev!

  18. 18
    North Bank Ned says:

    Cent@15: I am not sure that the system or tactics changed that much in the Chelsea game. It was more that the oomph with which Martinelli and ESR applied them had the knock-on effect of the whole team playing with more vigour.

  19. 19
    Osakamatt says:

    Yes, I think it was KT said
    afterwards they’d been talking
    about starting more positively
    but this time they actually did it.
    Plus a little luck with Mount hitting
    the post with an early free kick
    that would have put us 1-0 down
    and then Xhaka’s dagger to the
    throat just before half time – from
    what I can see Xhaka will do that
    twice a season at best.

  20. 20
    Trev says:

    Have to agree with Ned,

    The inclusion of ESR transformed our pedestrian, backwards and sideways midfield into a much subtle, attack-minded unit – all of them ! Even Xhaka looked forwards more. And having an energetic, quick striker chasing everything in Martinelli, we actually looked dangerous. Lacazette seemed to discover reserves of pace and determination we haven’t seen since he first joined.
    The two of them seemed to energise the whole team. It’s probably called leading by example. They were fantastic.
    Chelsea looked shell shocked and had no idea where to look next.

  21. 21
    Steve T says:

    Nice stuff Trev. Like you, I want a performance from those that put the shirt on and I want another 3 points. That is all.

  22. 22
    Cynic says:

    We appear to be getting linked with a move for Diego Costa, who’s just had his contract cancelled, which would be about five or six years too late. Not that I’d want to sign him at all, but I remember man discussions in the past where it was said we needed someone with a bit of the nasty, like him, in our team.

  23. 23
    Cynic says:

    many discussions*

  24. 24
    Trev says:

    Cynic, we needed a “bit of nasty”, not an embarrassing, blatant cheat.

  25. 25
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Diego Costa is an old Brazilian ex-Chelsea player…

    I wonder what shirt number we will give him?

  26. 26
    ClockEndRider says:

    I hadn’t clocked that one. I so hope those days are over.

  27. 27
    bt8 says:

    How many cards did the Premier League referees waive for Diego Costa? Countless. Probably they were intimidated by his sneer.

  28. 28
    Esso says:

    One change from Boxing Day



  29. 29
    TTG says:

    Same team as Saturday with Auba replacing Laca tge only change.
    I’m happy with that

  30. 30
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Good team.

    I reckon ESR to get an assist (maybe, just maybe, a goal), but something tangible in the game today. Auba to score.

    As to whether we get three points… boy I hope so.

  31. 31
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    CER @26.

    Me too.

    Dear God. No Diego Costa, please.

  32. 32
    Esso says:

    Arsenal: Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Mari, Tierney, Xhaka, Elneny, Saka, Smith Rowe, Martinelli, Aubameyang

    Subs: Runarsson, Mustafi, Cedric, Maitland-Niles, Ceballos, Pepe, Willock, Nketiah, Lacazette

  33. 33
    Cent says:

    Hi all. Quite happy with today’s line up although I worry if 2 starts in such a short space of a time is too much for Martinelli.

    I agree that Laca seemed to press better against Chelsea and Martinelli is clearly the best presser of all our forwards. That said, here are a few tactical changes I noticed from the first half against Chelsea: 1. Obviously, we started with four at the back, instead of five.
    2. Xhaka played more centrally while KT held back and picked his moments to bomb forward. In the other games, Xhaka occupied the left back position(when we have the ball) while KT pushed up high.
    3. We played with a number 10(ESR) and played through the middle more often, as opposed to playing the ball to the side every single time. See our older games to confirm this for yourselves. Perhaps this is why Xhaka featured more centrally.
    4. We pressed higher up the pitch and forced errors, Laca on Mendy and ESR’s miss are examples. This might be as a result of extra efforts by Martinelli and ESR, like others alluded to but it wasn’t just them pressing. It was the whole team stepping up and playing a high-line as opposed to dropping deep and inviting attacks like we’ve done all season and reverted to in the 2nd half. I believe they were following o the coach’s orders.

  34. 34
    Cent says:

    Diego Costa? Anybody who thinks he has anything to offer us should be nowhere near running the affairs of the club.

  35. 35
    Countryman100 says:

    I think we must conclude that Balogun is gone and Reiss Nelson is under a cloud. No Willian or Luiz, are they still in quarantine?

  36. 36
    Trev says:

    Yes, until Thursday apparently

  37. 37
    Trev says:

    Then we can sell them on Friday 😆

  38. 38
    Cynic says:

    Dear Auba

    You’re the captain. Please try putting in the effort of a captain.


  39. 39
    ksn says:

    Thanks, Trev for that funny yet informative preview; Simon Evans was hilarious.
    The first half saw us hogging possession and passing sideways as usual. Brighton had the better chances. We need to up our game in the second half if we are to get three points.

  40. 40
    'desi'gner gooner says:

    Laca gives us better balance than Auba when Martinelli and Smith Rowe are playing. Laca holds up the ball and spreads it to the on rushing or in behind Martinelli/Smith Rowe or even Saka. Auba and Martinelli both like to make runs in behind and therefore don’t compliment each other. I hope Artera brings on Laca in place of Auba around the hour mark if we continue in the same vein.

    Cent@33, you are spot on about our tactics/formation changes in the Chelsea game. Chelsea did not play well around our press but Brighton are managing quite well till now. They are a very well drilled team and their position in the league is a bit misleading. They pass and move the ball really well. Big second half coming up.

  41. 41
    ksn says:

    What a fantastic save by their goalie.

  42. 42
    ksn says:

    Martinelli was so close to scoring off a lot of good work by ESR.

  43. 43
    ksn says:

    Third straight time we caught their defence out but Auba misses another chance.

  44. 44
    ksn says:

    Finally, even f***((( Atkinson has to book a Brighton man.

  45. 45
    ksn says:

    Aruba’s general game is so poor for a player of his success and achievements.

  46. 46
    Steve T says:

    Far too slow.

    We’re not winning enough second balls. Need some more urgency.

  47. 47
    ksn says:

    Laca coming on for Martinelli.

  48. 48
    Cynic says:

    Dear Auba


  49. 49
    ksn says:

    Get in, Laca, super sub!!!!

  50. 50
    ksn says:

    Maupay comes on, the bloody cheat.

  51. 51
    ksn says:

    Saka is being fouled systematically. He is injured and I hope it is not serious. He did great work for our goal. If we lose Saka it will be a body blow for our season. Looks like will try to run it off. That’s good news.
    Ceballos on for Saka.

  52. 52
    ksn says:

    Laca has made a difference by getting back and holding the ball up for others, apart from his superbly taken goal.

  53. 53
    Steve T says:

    We are still not good enough without the ball.

  54. 54
    ksn says:

    AMN replaces ESR who had a good game.

  55. 55
    bathgooner says:

    A big win. Well done Saka and Lake especially!

  56. 56
    ksn says:

    Three points won though it was hard work. Everyone put in a shift and it was back to back wins and a clean sheet to boot.
    We move up to 13th. Bring on West Brom.

  57. 57
    Cynic says:

    Just goes to show you should never listen to TalkShite, especially whilst cooking and wandering in and out of the living room. I could have sworn they identified our scorer as Aubameyang. The silly shits.

    Unless I’m a deaf bastard.

    Decent win though, now let’s show “Big” Sam some form and see his ego off.

  58. 58
    scruzgooner says:

    super preview, trev. you’re very clever, the piece has put me in mind of something, can’t remember what.

    at least, after today’s win, we won’t have the crowd of journalists telling “look behind you!”.

  59. 59
    Esso says:

    Another win!

    Deep joy!

  60. 60
    bathgooner says:


  61. 61
    'desi'gner gooner says:

    A deserved win on the basis of our second half performance. We upped our intensity, were better off the ball and created enough chances to score atleast a couple of goals. Defensively too we did not let them create any clear cut chances although I would have liked us to not sit back so much in stoppage time. Auba should have done better to hold up the ball when we had the free kick near their corner flag and also to win the header off Leno’s goal kick towards the end. His casualness can be infuriating at times but he looks closer to scoring goals again which is great news for us.

    Back to back wins – just what the doctor ordered. Let’s prepare for an ultra low block against Big Sam’s team up next. Fantastic week so far.

  62. 62
    Steve T says:

    A great 3 points although I do get worried at little urgency we seem to have when we don’t have the ball. We need to work harder and win more second balls.

    The introduction of Martinelli and ESR has added some real spark and energy. Saka looks an incredible talent. I missed the most of the first half but heard a lot of it on the radio. KT was compared by the commentators as very reminiscent to Stuart Pearce. I’d be more than happy with that comparison.

    Onwards and upwards

  63. 63
    bathgooner says:

    Job done

  64. 64
    scruzgooner says:

    ttg celebrating?

  65. 65
    TTG says:

    Good team effort, solid defensively and more urgency in the second half . All we needed was a central midfield

  66. 66
    North Bank Ned says:

    The win is the main thing and the three points that come with it. Three more from the West Brom game are needed to keep the momentum going. Big Sam will put the fear of God into his side after that Leeds result

  67. 67
    North Bank Ned says:

    Scruz@64: It looks like diet mineral water in that glass. By George, the picture can’t possibly be of TTG. 🙂

  68. 68
    scruzgooner says:

    ned@67, yeah, should be red wine…

  69. 69
    Cent says:

    6 very precious points from the last 6 on offer. Feels good.

    I’m watching the game again now. Just got through the first half. I must say it doesn’t look as bad or scary as it felt at the time. Granted we didn’t create any serious chances and we made some mistakes at the back, I understand our, relative, slowness of thought and movement, especially when juxtaposed with the toughness of the last game just a few days ago.

    About to start the second half.

  70. 70
    Osakamatt says:

    Pretty much what I thought Desi.
    Overall we managed the game ok.
    I think the Brighton defender chasing
    Saka on our goal had already been
    booked hadn’t he?
    Good timing on the sub by MA😉
    Pleased that ESR could put in nearly
    90 mins. 3 points and on to WBA.

  71. 71
    Osakamatt says:

    2nd half is a much better watch
    Cent 😃
    The timing worked well for us
    with Brighton having less time

  72. 72
    Osakamatt says:

    Sam already looking for a two-week
    Covid circuit breaker Ned.
    Makes me think he’s realised things
    are dire at WBA.

  73. 73
    Cent says:

    We started the second half as we should every half and every game. No surprises that we made 10 attempts on their goal between the start of the 2nd half and, I think, the 80th minute. On our day, we would have had more goals.
    If ESR stays fit, he will be key for us. Either way, I’d like to see us get in another player in that mould, even if on loan, just to be safe. Especially if we are going to continue with this silliness of not using Ozil.
    Mo Elneny will probably have to make way when Partey is fully fit again, and rightly so, but it seems so unfair considering how well he has done this season. I wonder what a midfield three of Xhaka, Partey and Elneny would look like. I suspect it would be very solid albeit not very dynamic or especially creative.
    WBA and their criminal-enabler of a coach will be a huge test. I’m confident we can pass it if we don’t go back to playing like timid boys. COYG.

  74. 74
    Cent says:

    Cheers, Desi and Osaka. Hopefully we carry on this way and keep getting better.

  75. 75
    TTG says:

    Cent/ OM
    I wouldn’t much care for a midfield three of Partey, Elneny and Xhaka . Today the lack of impact in the first half was down to a very conservative approach from Xhaka and Partey. We lack mobility in midfield but against Chelsea Xhaka played further forward – Dr.F used a nice phrase ‘ giving us more verticality ‘ . We won today because our young players worked out the Brifgton block and stretched them at the back . I think ESR bringsca great deal to the team and that will only improve although he has been fragile injury-wise . But I think we need a player like Bissouma to support Partey or the Seville lad Jordan who can play in the double pivot with Partey. Allied to the young tyros I think we would start to look a very decent side .
    If we’d played Willian or Pepe today we wouldn’t have had that dynamism we showed after half-time. I can’t see a role for Willian in this team .

  76. 76
    TTG says:

    Apologies to Partey . I meant Elneny in my criticism of our first half conservatism although Partey had about as much impact on the match as Elneny sitting on his sofa

  77. 77
    ATG says: