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Preview: Arsenal vs. Brighton & Hove Albion

:Headline: Preview: Arsenal vs. Brighton & Hove Albion:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's Premier League clash between Arsenal and Brighton & Hove Albion at the Emirates Stadium.
By , Editor | 1y

Arsenal will be looking to continue their recent improved form when they host newly-promoted Brighton & Hove Albion at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

The Gunners have overcome a difficult start to the campaign to find their form, but they host a Brighton side who will also be pleased with the way they have begun life in the top flight.


Arsenal

It was a fairly miserable August for Arsenal, with two defeats from three league games and questions raised over their transfer activity, but the Gunners bounced back in September and now appear to have found their feet this season.

Five wins and a draw from six matches have lifted Arsenal up to seventh in the table, and they will be hoping to take that good form into October having not lost a Premier League match in the month since 2002.

The anguish from the 4-0 August defeat to Liverpool may not have entirely subsided yet, but Arsenal have not conceded a single league goal since that humiliation, winning twice and earning an impressive draw at the home of champions Chelsea.

A 4-2 victory away to BATE Borisov in the Europa League on Thursday extended their current winning run to three matches across all competitions and, while the trip back from Belarus may make things more difficult than they otherwise might be this weekend, Arsene Wenger was able to rest a number of key players in midweek.

The Gunners will certainly go into the match as favourites; they have won 26 and lost none of their last 31 league matches against newly-promoted sides - a run which stretches back more than five years - while the last promoted team to win at the Emirates were Newcastle United in November 2010.

Brighton boss Chris Hughton will remember that occasion well having been in charge of the Magpies that day, but if he is able to take anything from Sunday's match then it would surely top that feat.

Arsenal are in formidable form at the Emirates, winning eight consecutive Premier League outings in front of their own fans to leave them just one game short of their club record at the stadium. Manchester City were the last visiting team to avoid defeat at the Emirates, while you have to go back to January for Arsenal's last home loss.

Victory would also see Wenger claim his 45th different scalp in the Premier League, surpassing Sir Alex Ferguson's record tally, and the early-season clamour for the Frenchman to step down has quietened down following the improved form.

It may only take a home defeat at the hands of a club like Brighton to renew talk of a crisis, but this is a match Arsenal fans will be confident their side will win.

Recent Premier League form: WLLWDW
Recent form (all competitions): WWDWWW


Brighton

Six games into the new Premier League season and Brighton will be pretty content with the start they have made, averaging more than a point per game so far.

A similar tally over the course of the rest of the campaign would give the Seagulls a very good chance of staying in the division, and as things stand they are sitting pretty in 13th place.

Hughton will be the first to warn that the league table means nothing at the moment, and the three-point gap which currently separates them from the relegation zone could be eliminated in a heartbeat should the teams below them find some form.

One more win would already take Brighton to one quarter of the magic 40-point mark, although even the most ardent Seagulls fan may be sceptical about their chances of picking that win up at the Emirates.

It is not matches against the likes of Arsenal which will make the difference between survival and relegation this season, though - rather games precisely like last weekend when Tomer Hemed's solitary goal handed Brighton a crucial 1-0 home victory over Newcastle.

The Seagulls have not won back-to-back matches in the top flight since September 1982, with one of those victories coming over Arsenal incidentally, while they are also without a win in their last six away games stretching back to last season.

Indeed, Hughton's side have scored just one goal and picked up only one point from a possible nine on the road in the league this season, stretching their wait for a top-flight away win to 32 matches since a 2-1 triumph at Swansea City in March 1983.

It would be a famous occasion if they manage to end that run on Sunday, but to do so they are likely to need to pose more of a threat in the opposition box, with a league-high 49% of their shots having come from outside the area this season.

Recent Premier League form: LLDWLW
Recent form (all competitions): WDWLLW


Team News

Arsenal will be hoping to have Mesut Ozil back available after stepping up his recovery from a knee injury, while Laurent Koscielny is also a doubt with an Achilles problem.

Alex Iwobi is another who faces a late fitness test, but Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Danny Welbeck and Calum Chambers are all definitely out through injury.

Wenger is able to recall a number of first-team players after they were rested in midweek, though, including Alexandre Lacazette, who is bidding to become the first player to score in his first four home league appearances for Arsenal since 1958.

Brighton will be without last weekend's match-winner Hemed, who begins his three-match ban after being found guilty of violent conduct for a stamp on Newcastle's DeAndre Yedlin.

Glenn Murray could be involved as his replacement following an ankle injury, but Sam Baldock, Steve Sidwell and Beram Kayal are all still sidelined.

Tim Krul may be forced to wait for his league debut for the club, meanwhile, with Mathew Ryan expected to keep his place following his clean sheet last time out.

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Cech; Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal; Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Ozil, Lacazette, Sanchez

Brighton possible starting lineup:
Ryan; Bruno, Duffy, Dunk, Suttner; Knockaert, Stephens, Gross, Propper, March; Murray


Head To Head



Brighton have only ever won two of their previous 16 meetings with Arsenal across all competitions, with both of those victories coming in 1982.

The Gunners have won the last four editions of this fixture and 11 overall, although they have not kept a clean sheet against the Seagulls since a goalless draw in January 1982.

This will be Brighton's seventh visit to Arsenal, and their first to the Emirates Stadium. In their previous six, they have lost five times, drawn once and scored just one goal.


We say: Arsenal 2-0 Brighton



Brighton have not been an easy team to beat this season and they are likely to make themselves difficult to break down once again here. Arsenal are in good form, though, particularly at the Emirates, and they should have enough to come away with all three points.






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