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It's time for Alexis to stop sulking and show us why we wouldn't sell him

match preview arsenal vs brighton

Match Preview: Arsenal vs. Brighton - Premier League - 1.10.2017

After what felt like a disastrous start to the season, Arsenal have now gone on a little run and look ready to start closing the early gap that threatened to open into a gaping chasm into which the entire squad if not the club itself might disappear. However, we're now undefeated in our last six, with only a draw at Stamford Bridge to mar an otherwise perfect record since leaving Anfield. Having returned from Belarus, we welcome newly promoted Brighton & Hove, whom we've never met in the Prem but know fairly well from two FA Cup clashes in 2013 and 2015, both 2-3 wins to the Arsenal. They're off to a tolerably good start and should not be underestimated.

Gone, for what it's worth, are Chris O'Grady, Leonardo Ulloa, and Ashley Barnes, leaving Sam Baldock as the only Seagull to have scored against us. Their move to the Prem has given Chris Hughton a chance to strengthen the squad, bringing in Davy Pröpper from PSV Eindhoven for another £11m and then José Izquierdo from Club Brugge for some £13.5m—each in turn setting a new record transfer-fee paid by Brighton. Most of the excitement has come through Pascal Gross, signed from FC Ingolstadt for a mere £2.8m. Of Brighton's five goals so far, Gross has scored two and assisted two others. You'd be hard-pressed to find a player accounting for a higher percentage of his team's scoring than that, and we'd do well to keep an eye on him.  

At our end, this little streak, it's far too early to dispel the memories of the ugly start. Despite the impressive performance against Chelsea, we haven't shown ourselves to be capable of seeing off smaller sides. A somnambulent win over Doncaster in the League Cup is one thing, but I think we'd all agree that the win over West Brom was quite a bit tetchier than it needed to be, with Robert Madley seeming to side with us more often than not. Thursday's victory over BATE Borisov started off well enough but got a bit too ragged to count as convincing.  

To be honest, the only players who have impressed with any regularity have been Danny Welbeck, who's now injured, Sead Kolašinac, and Petr Čech. Alexandre Lacazette took full advantage against West Brom, bagging a brace to bring his season total to seven, and looks like he might the most-clinical finisher we've had in some time, and his movement both in the box and nose for the ball are looking sharper and sharper as he acquaints himself with his new mates. We still haven't seen the much-anticipated triumvirate of Lacazette, Alexis, and Özil, with the latter two still looking for full fitness while nursing little niggles.  

While it might be a bit early to summon them forth, we've entered a softer stretch of fixtures and have to make the most of it. I do think therefore that it will be Alexis who finally emerges from his early season sulk. He may not erupt against Brighton, but he'll do enough to remind us of how valuable he's been to us.

   

LAST THREE meetings

  • Brighton 2-3 Arsenal (25 Jan 2015).
  • Brighton 2-3 Arsenal  (26 Jan 2013).
  • Brighton 1-2 Arsenal (30 Jan 1988).

FACTFILE

  • This will mark the first time we've faced Brighton in league play since 1983.
  • Arsenal kept clean sheets in five consecutive matches against Brighton, scoring ten goals along the way.
  • Brighton have scored just once in three matches away.
  • Former Gunner Steve Sidwell, who won FA Youth Cups with Arsenal in 2000 and 2001, went out on loan to Brighton & Hove in 2002 and then joined the club in 2016. 

INJURIES

Santi Cazorla and Danny Welbeck will miss out, and Francis Coquelin and Calum Chambers face late fitness tests.

POSSIBLE STARTING XI

Čech, Holding, Mustafi, Koscielny; Kolašinac, Xhaka, Ramsey, Bellerín; Wilshere, Alexis; Giroud.

GOONERSPHERE's PREDICTION

This should be one in which we finally hit a stride after merely managing to get by. No offense to Brighton, but this is one that Arsenal really should put to bed early if not often. Arsenal 2-0 Brighton.

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