Brighton 2-4 Arsenal: Gunners Move Seven Points Clear After Surviving Late Seagulls Rally
Arsenal ended 2022 with a bang and moved seven points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 4-2 win at Brighton.
Following Manchester City’s 1-1 draw with Everton earlier in the day, Arsenal seized their opportunity, taking the lead inside two minutes from Bukayo Saka’s confident finish. Martin Odegaard then struck before half-time before Eddie Nketiah made it two goals in two games since replacing the injured Gabriel Jesus.
Kaoru Mitoma reduced the deficit for Brighton but Gabriel Martinelli rubberstamped the victory after an outrageous assist from Odegaard.
Evan Ferguson, 18, became Brighton’s youngest-ever Premier League scorer and Arsenal survived a late wobble when Mitoma had the ball in the net for 4-3 with stoppage-time to come but the goal was ruled out by VAR for offside.
Arsenal saw it out and have now won nine of their last 10 Premier League games and have put themselves in a fantastic position to win their first league title since 2003/04.
Arsenal face Newcastle on Tuesday at the Emirates Stadium, live on Sky Sports, which means they could be 10 points clear by the time City visit Chelsea next Thursday at Stamford Bridge. The Gunners are seven points clear after 16 games, a lead no previous Premier League leader has surrendered.
Brighton: Sanchez (6), Dunk (6), Colwill (6), Estupinan (6), Gilmour (6), Gross (7), Lamptey (6), Lallana (6), Mitoma (8), Trossard (6), March (6)
Subs: Ferguson (8), Sarmiento (7), Ensico (7)
Arsenal: Ramsdale (7), White (7), Saliba (7), Gabriel (7), Zinchenko (7), Partey (7), Xhaka (8), Odegaard (9), Saka (8), Martinelli (8), Nketiah (8)
Subs: Tomiysau (7), Tierney (7), Holding (N/A), Elneny (N/A)
Man of the match: Martin Odegaard
Arsenal head into 2023 as top dogs
In the final Premier League game of 2022, Arsenal knew by kick-off that a win would take them seven points clear and make those New Year’s celebrations extra special for the travelling contingent. They started the game in party mood as Saka had them in front inside two minutes, scoring his fifth goal in his last six appearances for club and country.
Gabriel Martinelli’s shot was blocked but the ball fell beautifully for Saka, who made no mistake with his finish. It was one of five shots on the Brighton goal in the opening five minutes, highlighting the confidence and momentum flowing through Arteta’s side.
- Billy Gilmour and Tariq Lamptey both made their first Premier League starts of the season as Brighton were missing Moses Caicedo through suspension while World Cup hero Alexis Mac Allister should be ready to return next week.
- Arsenal made just the one change as Oleksandr Zinchenko replaced Kieran Tierney at left-back.
Martinelli almost slid home following a gorgeously disguised pass from Odegaard on 17 minutes and, although Brighton improved as the half wore on, Arsenal carried the greater quality. It was soon 2-0 to the away side.
A corner was only half cleared as far as Odegaard, who somewhat scuffed his shot into the ground but the trajectory of the effort helped it looped into the far corner taking his tally to seven goals in his last 13 Premier League appearances.
Arsenal started the second half much like the first and added a third within two minutes of the restart. Martinelli’s shot was too hot to handle and Nketiah responded quickest to poke the ball home in front of a jubilant away end, who then started to bring out the ‘Ole’s’ with Arsenal in control.
However, Brighton kept on coming and found their stride. Pascal Gross slid a clever ball to the brilliant Mitoma and he found the bottom corner to give Arsenal something to think about. The nerve levels were turned down a notch though when Martnelli pounced for 4-1 on 71 minutes.
The goal was all about Odegaard though who on the turn, hit a first-time pass for Martinelli to race through and finish. It was one of the passes of the season.
Ferguson had his moment to remember for Brighton, scoring his first Premier League goal off the bench as he held off William Saliba in strong fashion and finished powerfully. He only turned 18 in October.
Brighton thought they had their grandstand finish on 89 minutes when Mitoma jinked into space and fired into the bottom corner but with the Amex rocking and the players set for the restart, VAR disallowed the goal for a marginal offside in the build-up.
This was Arsenal’s night. And it might just be their season.
Arteta hails a big win
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta speaking to Sky Sports: “That was a big win against a really good side. We had big moments, we were ruthless, really clinical. We had some great moments and then as well there were moments where we had to dig in and suffer because they put you in trouble and are a really good side.
“If you expect to come here against Brighton and play them off the park, and don’t concede anything, it’s extremely difficult. It was a big test for us to win again, three in a row. It’s a big win and now onto the next one.
“We started really fast, after the first one, I think we have two or three big chances to put the game in a much comfortable position but it was never finished. You had the feeling they were going to give everything they could and commit a lot of players forward and test the last line. They did and we had to manage some difficult situations.”
Merson: No fluke in where Arsenal are
Sky Sports’ Paul Merson:
“Arsenal are playing very well, it’s not been a fluke. They went to Old Trafford and got beat, and I didn’t think they deserved to. There’s ways of losing matches and they bounced back.
“The other night, they went 1-0 down to West Ham and they came back and brushed them aside.
“They are right in it, no question. This is not a fluke, they are where they are because they are a very good football team.
“There’s 26 games left, they’ve got to do it for another 22 probably. They’ve given themselves a little gap where they can afford to lose a few games. Man City are not going to win every game.
“Arsenal are right in this, I couldn’t talk highly enough about them. But this is the Premier League, it changes so quickly.
“Those three fixtures: Newcastle, Tottenham, Man United. If they beat Newcastle, you expect them to get a result at Tottenham, if they get a result at Tottenham I’d expect them to beat United.
“If they don’t beat Newcastle, you don’t expect them to beat Tottenham, they don’t beat Tottenham then you don’t expect them to beat United. It’s a domino effect. At the moment, they’re doing everything right.”
Arsenal’s next set of fixtures…
Tuesday January 3 – Newcastle (H) – Live on Sky Sports, kick-off 7.45pm
Monday January 9 – Oxford United (A) – FA Cup third round, kick-off 8pm
Sunday January 15 – Tottenham (A) – Live on Sky Sports, kick-off 4.30pm
Sunday January 22 – Manchester United (H) – Live on Sky Sports, kick-off 4.30pm
Sunday February 4 – Everton (A) – Kick-off 12.30pm
Saturday February 11 – Brentford (H) – Kick-off 3pm
Opta stats – Odegaard wows
- Arsenal are just the fifth side in English top-flight history to pick up as many as 43 points from the first 16 games in a season (3 pts for a win) after Tottenham (46 pts in 1960-61), Chelsea (43 pts in 2005-06), Man City (46 pts in 2017-18) and Liverpool (46 pts in 2019-20).
- After just 66 seconds, Saka scored Arsenal’s earliest away goal in the Premier League since May 2013, when Theo Walcott netted after just 20 seconds against QPR.
- Odegaard has been involved in 12 goals in his last 13 Premier League appearances (7 goals, 5 assists). Indeed, he’s had a hand in more league goals this season (12 in 15 apps) than in the entirety of 2021-22 (11 in 36 apps).
- Nketiah has scored 10 goals in his last 16 starts for Arsenal in all competitions, netting in each of his last three starts for the Gunners overall (3 goals).
Brighton head to Goodison Park on Tuesday night to play Everton (7.45pm kick-off) while Arsenal face Newcastle in a mouth-watering encounter, live on Sky Sports, also on Tuesday (7.45pm kick-off).