Arsenal were among the first group of teams to back up and run the Premier League, but they probably wish they hadn’t.
A toothless performance, in which he failed to register a single shot on target, in a crushing 3-0 defeat by Man City was probably not the way Mikel Arteta wanted to kick back the campaign. A statement result against Brighton is needed if the Gunners are going to chalk up their evening in the Etihad as just a false start.
Brighton go into this game knowing that if results go their way they could end up in the relegation zone at the weekend. Graham Potter’s men have yet to taste victory in 2020, but will be hoping to turn the tide from Arsenal in a seemingly flurry.
With matches against Leicester, Manchester United, Liverpool and Man City still to come, Brighton need to hit the ground running this weekend. They need to start picking up points now.
Brighton need to start picking up points / PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images
When is kick off? Saturday 20 June
What is the kick off time? 15:00 (BST)
Where is it played? Amex Stadium
TV channel/live stream? BT Sport (UK), fuboTV (US)
The referee? Martin Atkinson
Brighton will return to action without any further injury concerns. The only long-term absentee left on the treatment table is Jose Izquierdo, so Potter has a full list to choose from.
Top scorer Neil Maupe will be key to any success in this game, while Brighton fans could finally see Alexis McAllister play when the 21-year-old attacking midfielder made his debut off the bench against Wolves in the final pre-lockdown game. was MacAllister was highly rated and impressed during his loan spell in Argentina with Boca Juniors.
Arteta is not so lucky. Lucas Torreira, Cedric Suarez and Callum Chambers were already injured at the restart, and then the treatment room was overcrowded after the City game. Granit Xhaka and Pablo Mari both withdrew from the game through injury, and of course David Luiz’s red card ruled them out of the weekend fixture as well.
David Luiz is suspended for this weekend’s game / Peter Powell/Getty Images
Add to that, the training ground injury by Socrates and Arsenal seem to be running on a skeleton staff. With Shkodran Mustafa the only fully fit center available, Sokratis could be a threat for him, although Rob Holding is again in contention. Alexandre Lacazette is expected to return to the starting 11, while Mesut Ozil could be recalled to help unlock Brighton’s tight defence.
Brighton: Ryan; Martin Montoya, Webster, Dunk, Byrne; Mooy, Propper, Bissouma; March, Maupay, Trossard.
Weapons: Log Bellerin, Socrates, Mustafa, Tierney; Ozil, Gendozzi, Ceballos; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Brighton are winless in 2020, a run of nine Premier League matches. The saving grace for the Seagulls is that six of those games have ended in draws, and they have conceded just 12 goals in that span. Brighton’s defense is pretty solid, and if they had a bit more up front, they would likely have turned those two draws into wins.
Brighton need more from their top scorer/Nathan Strick/Getty Images
Arsenal had done a lot to get in shape before the COVID-19 break and there was a sense that Arteta had turned things around at the club. The City game, however, was a call back to more stormy times, as individual errors again cost Arsenal valuable points.
It’s not a total disaster, however, as it was ultimately their first league defeat of 2020, ending an eight-match unbeaten run. It may have just been an era, but if the Bundesliga has taught anything, it’s that ‘recent’ form means absolutely nothing after a three-month break.
Here’s a look at how both sides have fared in their last five games.
Wolves 0-0 Brighton (7/3)
Brighton 0-1 Crystal Palace (29/2)
Sheffield United 1-1 Brighton (2/22)
Brighton 1-1 Watford (8/2)
West Ham 3-3 Brighton (1/2)
Aubameyang leaps over Kyle Walker/Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Man City 3-0 Arsenal (17/6)
Arsenal 1-0 West Ham (7/3)
Portsmouth 0-2 Arsenal (2/3)
Arsenal 1-2 Olympiacos (27/2)
Arsenal 3-2 Everton (23/2)
Arsenal’s only real form of capitulation against City is hard to say. The Gunners’ injury woes at the back will undoubtedly be an area Brighton look to capitalize on, with Arsenal not doing well at the best of times.
That being said, if Arsenal are firing on all cylinders they should be able to push their opponents back on the day.
Not out of the question / Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
If Brighton can stay solid at the back, it’s not hard to imagine Glenn Murray’s knee slide on the back page of the papers on Sunday morning.
Prediction: Brighton 0-1 Arsenal