Arsenal ended 2022 on a high, beating Brighton away for the first time since 2020. This victory was extra sweet as we extended our lead at the top of the Premier League table to seven points as both City and Newcastle dropped points earlier on in the day. Zinchenko was the only change to the team that beat West Ham on Boxing Day as he displaced Tierney to reclaim his place in the starting XI.
As far as starts go, Saka provided the dream by putting the ball in the back of the net in just 66 seconds! After our first attack was dealt with by the Brighton defence, Partey stole the ball from Lamptey which allowed Zinchenko to set Martinelli up, but his effort was deflected twice and landed in Saka’s path where he took a touch and put the ball in the back of the net, cool as you like. This domination remained for much of the early stages as Zinchenko came close to doubling the lead, as well as Nketiah and Martinelli having a go at goal too.
Brighton then settled into the game and had a good chance from a corner, which had to be retaken, with Gabriel clearing the third shot off of the line. We responded to this danger quickly. Ødegaard played a naughty flick into Martinelli but the ball was cleared. Partey then had an opportunity but the shot went over the goal. Seven minutes before the break. A corner was cleared, but only as far as the edge of the box, and Ødegaard found the top corner in what wasn’t the best of contact but made for an excellent strike and puts him on seven goals already this season.
The second half start was just as impressive as the first half, with Eddie making it 3 – 0 just two minutes after the restart. Partey again set up Martinelli who had is effort saved by Sanchez, but Eddie found himself in the right place at the right time and scored from the loose ball; a much deserved goal for our striker, and two goals in two starts since Jesus has been out from injury. With the three goal cushion, we sat back and allowed Brighton to take a few shots, including a goal from Mitoma which made the score 3 – 1 and definitely made all us Arsenal fans sweat a little, remember when Newcastle came back from 4 – 0 down to draw?
It only took Martinelli five minutes to regain our three goal cushion as he scored straight through Sanchez’s legs. Gabi did brilliantly, but it was a beautiful pass from the captain to set him up and that really made the goal. The game continued from this point pretty end-to end. Brighton managed to score again with Ferguson and it was clear that Arteta wasn’t impressed. We clearly suffered from taking off both White and Zinchenko at the same time, but Arteta was just weary of the big game against Newcastle on Tuesday, in my opinion. Holdini was sent on, putting many fans at ease, for the final five minutes and Mitoma scored again, only to have it disallowed through VAR for offside. From then on, the game was very scrappy and the players looked nervous, but managed to hold on to the lead and get the three points.
Our first game of 2023 is on Tuesday, at home to third place Newcastle United. This will be a tough fixture as Newcastle have been on an impeccable run of form lately and very shockingly couldn’t break through against Leeds yesterday. It makes sense that Arteta wanted to ensure White and Zinchenko would be at their best for the game, but after a poor performance from Saliba since the return from the World Cup, maybe we will see him dropped in favour of Ben White playing as CB with Tomiyasu filling in the RB role. We enter 2023 top of the Premier League table and people are finally starting to realise we are genuine title contenders, this isn’t just a fluke. Happy New Year!
Written by: Abby Goodson (@_abbygoodson)