Freddie Ljungberg makes his home debut as Arsenal interim head coach with Brighton cast as sacrificial lambs.
The Seagulls came close to raining on Liverpool’s parade on Saturday and won’t lack for self-belief in taking on the out-of-sorts Gunners.
But Ljungberg has a secret weapon to deploy. He plans to consult both Arsene Wenger and Sven Goran Eriksson for help in resolving Arsenal’s defensive woes.
They need to act quickly. Norwich exposed the Gunners hapless defence without problem, leaving the Swede grateful for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s brace to salvage a point.
Arsenal are on their worst run in the Premier League since 1994 with one win in eight. Can they finally bring the misery engulfing the Emirates?
Or will the Seagulls soar into mid-table obscurity by taking their first three points from the red half of north London? This one is as tight to call as any Premier League fixture this week…
Arsenal vs Brighton & Hove Albion Predictions
After running Liverpool close at Anfield, Graham Potter takes his Brighton & Hove Albion side to the Emirates where they hope to spoil Freddie Ljungberg’s happy homecoming.
The interim Arsenal boss certainly threw some spanners into the works with his team selection for the 2 – 2 draw at Norwich but found himself with a front-row seat as the Gunners produced another horror show on the road.
He wrought some improvement. It certainly wasn’t an ‘18’-rated performance that was an all-too-regular occurrence under Unai Emery. But they were still reliant upon several good saves from Bernd Leno to secure their point.
Did it stop the rot? It’s too early to say and certainly, the defensive pairing of Mustafi and Luiz did little to reassure anyone that Ljungberg had a masterplan. Maybe expecting Freddie to find an answer to several years-worth of defensive problems in 48 hours was a little too much.
Four days on, Arsenal need to bring their eight-game winless run to an end (D6, L2). The draws are costing them dear, certainly in the Premier League where they now sit eighth thanks to six without a win (D4, L2).
The Gunners are seven points adrift of the relegation places and seven points from the top four. That neatly encapsulates Arsenal; neither one thing nor the other.
Despite this, they have a formidable home record with one defeat in 25 (W17, D7). However, five of those draws came in the past eight games (W3) with six of the last ten seeing over 2.5 goals.
Most of Arsenal’s problems stem from the lack of defensive coordination throughout the team, manifesting in them keeping one clean sheet at home in the Premier League this season. Indeed, they have the sum total of two this campaign.
Graham Potter knows the feeling well. Brighton come into the game on the back of three straight defeats and a six-match winless away run (D1, L5) since winning 3 – 0 at Watford. That was their only clean sheet in nine away matches.
Goals remain an issue, especially from their strikers. Lewis Dunk has scored the Seagulls last two away from home and with two goals, he is their top scorer on the road. Indeed, with Adam Webster netting at Villa Park, Brighton’s last three goals came from defenders.
Ljungberg was complimentary about the Seagulls, alluding to their performances being better than their league position suggests. Certainly at Anfield, they were unfortunate to come up against a Liverpool team who put in a dogged defensive display for the final 20 minutes.
That they forced stand-in goalkeeper Adrian into five saves, as well as picking the ball out of the net during his time on the pitch. If Brighton could generate similar pressure across 90 minutes, then they may find their woes ease.
As it is, the visitors find themselves sitting just three points off the relegation places. They are yet to win at Arsenal and even though the visitors are in bad shape themselves, it will still be a major surprise if Brighton come away with three points.
Arsenal vs Brighton & Hove Albion Head to Head
This is only the 20th meeting between the two sides with Arsenal winning 12 to Brighton’s three with four drawn.
In the league, Arsenal lead with six wins to Brighton’s three with three ending all-square. Brighton have never won at Arsenal (D2, L6) in any competition.
Two of the four draws came last season with both fixtures finishing 1 – 1. At the Emirates, the sides traded penalties with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang opening the score before Glenn Murray equalised in the second half.
Murray’s goal was only the second the Seagulls had scored in the red half of North London.
Arsenal Team News
Hector Bellerin is a doubt for this fixture while Dani Ceballos, leaving interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg with an otherwise full squad to choose from.
The Swede gave little away on whether he will make wholesale changes from Sunday although eyebrows will be raised in Mustafi and Luiz line-up as the central defensive pairing once again.
Brighton & Hove Albion Team News
Graham Potter has two absentees, Solly March and Jose Izquierdo. Bernardo is, according to the Seagulls boss, back in training although there is no guarantee he will feature with the hectic schedule ahead.
Arsenal vs Brighton & Hove Albion Betting Tips
Home advantage and marginally better form make Arsenal favourites. How much of their 33/50 odds is down to the ‘Freddie Ljungberg effect’ remains to be seen. Novibet’s matchday odds put Brighton at 79/20 while the draw is 16/5.
Even with a brace at the weekend, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is only 3/5 in the Anytime Goalscorer market while Brighton’s scorer last season, Glenn Murray, is 41/20. Both scored penalties in last season’s corresponding fixture. If the first goal is a penalty this time around, you’ll win at 10/1 odds.
Both sides have their defensive problems and that’s reflected in the prospects of both teams scoring. Yes (GG) is just 29/50 but if Arsenal buck the trend of recent history, 13/10 (NG) is on offer.
There are long shots in the visitors winning with value found in the correct score markets for the draw. A repeat of both last season’s matches which finished with a 1 – 1 scoreline is 7/1.