Arsenal were held by Brighton and Hove Albion on the boxing day as the Gunners slip down from the Champions League spot. It was Pierre Emerick Aubameyang continued his blazing run and handed an early lead for Unai Emery’s side. The Gobon international has now netted 13 goals and is topping the charts in terms of goals scored. However, Mohammed Salah and Harry Kane are also in close vicinity with 12 goals each.
The Seagulls though responded within the first half as they capitalised on errors from Stephen Lichtsteiner and Bernd Leno as forward Jurgen Locadia calmly slotted it home after going past the German custodian.
The Dutchman’s goal earned the Seagulls a very important point breaking their losing streak. Here are the four talking points of the match between Arsenal and Brighton and Hove Albion :
4. Pierre Emerick Aubameyang – The Marksman
The Gabon international has been terrific with the Gunners this season. With all the concerns rising on the backline the only one thing that Unai Emery can trust is Aubameyang’s prolific goal scoring record. His partner in crime Alexandre Lacazette has also been a great contributor as the Frenchman has taken up the withdrawal type of role to feed his teammate.
Aubameyang opened the scoring as early as in the seventh minute. Both Salah and Kane had scored in their respective fixtures and had equalled with the former Dortmund man. Hence it was important for Aubameyang to respond quickly and that’s exactly what he did.
3. Questions raised again on Mesut Ozil’s inconsistency
Mesut Ozil did find his name on the starting list in this match, but even though he was lacklustre to say the least. The 30-year old midfielder was taken off by Emery at halftime as the Spaniard prefered Alex Iwobi’s hardworking attitude more suited against Brighton. It is highly unlikely that the German playmaker will adapt at this stage of his career. He is very reluctant to work hard and track runs when the possession is with their opponents.
Hence Emery decided to swap him with a more dynamic Alex Iwobi who had shown the desire to work hard after coming on from the bench. Plus with Alexandre Lacazetter and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang already in the starting lineup playing Iwobi made more sense for the Spaniard.
Ozil’s relationship with Emery is still a big question mark as his future at the Emirates is still unclear. He is certainly not gaining Unai Emery’s trust by giving performances like these.
2. Brighton proving that on their day they can put up a fight against the big boys
Chris Hutton’ men came to this fixture losing back to back three matches in the league. Although the Seagulls are in 13th position on the league table the team was desperate to break the jinx against Arsenal.
Arsenal, however, were ahead within 7 minutes at the Amex Stadium and it was all going down well for the Gunners. But Hutton’s men kept on chipping and tried to create something out of nothing. They capitalised on consecutive mistakes from LIchtsteiner and Leno for Locadia to find the net and equalise.
The did manage to fend off the attacking onslaught later in the second half from the Gunners, as Emery’s men came with all guns blazing. Brighton were astute in defence as they were determined to snatch a point from the fixture.
1. Emery’s major defensive woes as both Bernd Leno and Stephen Lichtsteiner disappoint
The Spanish tactician enjoyed a great span of time at North London, remaining unbeaten in 22 matches on the bounce. However, from then, there have been concerns over his back-line as most of their first-choice defenders are nursing injuries. Apart from that, the Gunners have not been their best in the recent fixtures. Their 22-match unbeaten run was ended by Ralph Hassenhuttl’s Southampton. Then the Gunners were knocked out of the Carabao cup by eternal rivals Tottenham Hotspurs.
Stephen Lichtsteiner who is in the twilight of his career has just not lived up to expectations of the fans and his manager. It was his mistake that allowed the move from Locadia in the middle to chase on the loose ball and eventually score the equaliser. Coming to Leno he has proved time and again that he is worthy of the no. 1 shirt for the Gunners but he simply had a bad day at the office. The German made a lot of indecisive moves and he was at fault when the equaliser was scored, as he simply came out of his lines and allowed Locadia to slot it past him to score the equaliser.