Salt in the wound by the seaside

The cardboard cut-outs in the seats appeared to be making a lot of noise.

Brighton are a team easy to underestimate. Their manager had already beaten Arsenal twice – and now a hat-trick with this 2-1 victory.

Following the mauling and injuries at City, the phrases salt in the wound and insult to injury come to mind after this one.

Brighton are quite a physical side and obviously instructed to foul to break up the play. But have some skillful players and a methodical pattern of play.

The first Arsenal chance was from Pepe on wing, with Aubameyang sending an overhead kick wide.

Kolasinac headed away from a corner and was baulked.

Saka, who has eleven assists already this season, three more than any teammate, took on the finishing himself, shot and hit the bar.

Pepe appeared to be trying too hard, losing the ball. He was fouled by lanky Burn – but nothing was given. And again – and the right back was booked.

Meanwhile, Maupay had run and shot.

Lacazette had a header from a Saka cross, but Ryan saved.

Then the incident. Maupay ran into Leno when the German was airborne. He had full control of the ball. It was one of those which needn’t have happened – an accidental, on purpose collision. But Leno extended his knee on landing – and it looked bad.

The fact that VAR deemed no foul play – took some of the heat out – but Leno pointed and shouted at Maupay, when being taken away on a stretcher, who posed as a denying innocent.

The injury, as the ones on Wednesday to Xhaka and Mari, disrupted Arsenal’s rhythm.

Nevertheless, Saka went on a good run and crossed and Aubameyang performed a neat one two with Lacazette but Webster cleared.

At the start of second half – Aubameyang went on a good run but shot narrowly wide.

Burn and his teammates kept up the fouling, which maybe was too much for Lacazette, who went in on Ryan – and got booked.

Aubameyang set up another one-two with his French mate, but Ryan saved.

Mid-way through the second half, Pepe cut back on his left just outside the area and curled it beautifully past Ryan. If only his end-product was consistent rather than sporadic.

But Brighton are made of stern stuff. Arsenal defenders went to sleep. The home team took a short corner, with a two on one. Lacazette failed to stop the cross, Saka played people on and Holding was too slow to clear near the goal-line and Dunk poked it in. Arsenal have let in the most goals in the league from set pieces, apart from Aston Villa.

For the last 20 Brighton played two strikers – Connolly coming on to partner Maupay – and in the fourth minute of injury time they executed a quick flick one-two past Mustafi with Maupay lifting it past Martinez.

Post-match Mikel Arteta said: “We missed so many chances. We gave the first goal away and didn’t compete on the second.

“We’ll try to lift players. We don’t compete. We can’t give goals away like that. We can’t accept that.”

“I am very frustrated. It’s unacceptable the way we lost. We lacked competing. We have a very young squad. We had total control and had to put the game to bed. We threw it away. We had the best chances. We lost three points again.

On the changes to the line-up, Arteta said the players didn’t recover after 2.5 days – the players coming in did well – more than enough to win comfortably.

“We have to swallow that one. It was different to City. When you give cheap goals away you suffer. We have to learn a big lessson today – hopefully.”

Brighton: Ryan, Schelotto (Substituted for Montoya at 71), Webster, Dunk, Burn (Booked at 30), Pröpper, Bissouma (Substituted for MacAllister at 90+4), Groß (Substituted for Connollyat 71), Trossard (Substituted for Stephens at 87), Mooy (Booked at 44, Substituted for March at 45), Maupay.

Arsenal: Leno (Substituted for Martínez at 40), Bellerín, Mustafi, Holding, Kolasinac, Ceballos (Substituted for Willock at 87), Guendouzi, Saka (Substituted for Tierney at 87), Pépé (Substituted for Nelson at 87), Lacazette (Booked at 54, Substituted for Nketiah at 78), Aubameyang.