Defence holds firm against seaside onslaught

If this was a boxing match – Brighton would have won comfortably on points.

Arsenal were sloppy, misplacing passes and giving the ball away. Brighton were quicker to the ball and won most of the duels. Was it a hangover from Tottenham, the poor conditions – driving rain by the seaside, a young team, the youngest in the Premiership showing inexperience?

Nevertheless – a point is a point, and the clean sheet will add to confidence in the defence.

Smith Rowe was again Arsenal’s best player in an away game, trying to launch attacks and driving towards the Brighton area, when given an opportunity.

This game has recent history with Maupay on Leno and the end of Guendouzi’s Arsenal career last year. Previously Glen Murray nicked a late winner at the Emirates.

Lokonga returned for the injured Xhaka was Arsenal’s only change.

Brighton were hit by injuries in all departments including Webster, Bissouma and Welbeck.

Brighton were taller and more physical than Arsenal which suited the conditions. Arsenal lost their midfield battles. Brighton pressed aggressively, and the London side couldn’t really escape the first or second press too many times. Odegaard was unusually sloppy, Aubameyang worryingly slow. Timiyasu was given a torrid time by Cucurella, and his unusual throw-in action gave cause for concern.

In the first two minutes, Saka drove through beating two Brighton players on the right and firing a low shot at Sanchez.

Brighton came in heavy on Saka and Tierney respectively as they started to break a la Man City. The referee was letting a lot go, which didn’t favour the Arsenal style.

A neat move between Saka and Smith Rowe saw Aubameyang trying to beat two in the area – but was blocked.

Cucurella drove to the byline and crossed dangerously, with Tierney touching it to safety.

Trossard took a long ball, drove down the right twisted Tierney and fired across the goal.

In the first, some passes broke down on Aubameyang – an effective target man was needed to get out and launch attacks.

Maupay sent in a hard low cross. Ramsdale mis-handled and Dunk fired well over from a good chance.

Saka drove on – the ball squirmed up across the goal-line and Aubameyang hit the post with a difficult chance at a tight angle.

Tomiyasu got caught dribbling out of defence, but Brighton wasted the chance.

Saka – Arsenal’s best out-ball found Smith Rowe who cut it back for Partey who fired wide.

Then Smith Rowe drove a beautiful ball across the Brighton six-yard line, but  Aubameyang was on his heels.

Lokonga drove toward the Brighton area but fired over.

Pepe came on for Odegaard on 62. And Lacazette for Aubameyang ten minutes later. The Frenchman held the ball up better.

Partey set Smith Rowe away who found space and aimed for the near post – saved by Sanchez.

Ramsdale saved a goal diving in front of Maupay from a corner.

Smith Rowe took the ball into the Brighton area and was felled by Dunk. Last year it could have been given – but not this season.

Graham Potter said: “We tried everything. I think [the fans] were really happy and proud of their team because the performance was fantastic.

“In the first half especially we were really, really good and played with real courage, intensity and quality – especially when you consider the quality of the opponent. Of course, as coaches we want to win but in terms of performance it was as good as I can remember.”

Mikel Arteta said “In the first half we struggled to dominate. They were really aggressive, and we struggled to break the press. We improved in second – and open situations could have been good chances. The reason we got a point was the way we defended in the last 15 minutes.

Asked about Cucurella making inroads down the left, Arteta said: “I’m more concerned the way we play. Every time there was a duel, we came up short. It is something we have to do better. I don’t think we deserved to win. We’ll take the point.

“We have conceded one goal in the last five games. We have turned the situation around. We are going to focus on what we are doing well and work on the many things we have to improve.”

Brighton 0 Arsenal 0

Brighton: 1Sánchez, 24Duffy, 5Dunk, 33Burn, 34Veltman (Booked at 82mins), 13Groß (Substituted for March at 84’minutes), 14Lallana, 15Moder (Substituted for Mac Allister at 78’minutes), 3Cucurella, 11Trossard, 9Maupay (Booked at 74mins

Arsenal: 32Ramsdale, 18Tomiyasu, 4White, 6Gabriel, 3Tierney, 5Partey (Booked at 90mins), 23Sambi Lokonga, 7Saka (Substituted for Maitland-Niles at 90’minutes), 8Ødegaard (Substituted for Pépé at 63’minutes), 10Smith Rowe, 14Aubameyang (Substituted for Lacazette at 72’minutes)