Arsenal played out their first draw of the league season when they came away with a 0-0 from The Amex against Brighton but, in truth, they were lucky to get that.
Arsenal’s first half against Brighton was more reminiscent of Arsenal under Mikel Arteta than the first half against Tottenham last week was, that game looking more like another ‘big game’ outlier under Arteta’s management.
Brighton, managed by Graham Potter, out-thought Arsenal all over the pitch, ending the half with 61% possession, eight shots to Arsenals four, 240 accurate passes to Arsenal’s 139 and a pass completion rate of 86% while Arsenal’s was an abysmal 77%.
77% is the sort of rate you see from a League One side when they get drawn against a Premier League side.
Truly awful from a side that has delusions of qualifying for Europe this season.
There were no excuses for a performance this poor. The only player missing was Granit Xhaka, who we tried to sell.
The second half was marginally better, especially when Martin Odegaard and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who was Arsenal’s worst player by a distance, were replaced by Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette, but their period on top was fleeting.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles came, replacing Bukayo Saka who went down with a calf problem two minutes before the end of the normal time and before the international break. That must have been quite the conversation Arteta had with Ainsley to convince him to stay.
We can hope Saka’s is a pretend injury to get him some rest but the grimace on his face as he lay on the ground says it’s probably a small pull, at least.
Arsenal finished the game with 42% possession, eight shots to Brighton’s 21 but, thankfully, their finishing was absolutely woeful and they only got two on target – the same number as Arsenal.
Arsenal’s pass success finished at an embarrassing 76% and that should be a headline figure.
This is a team that thinks it is on the rise yet it can’t even find a teammate a quarter of the time.
Arsenal player ratings vs Brighton (half time ratings)
- Aaron Ramsdale 7.0 (6.1)
- Kieran Tierney 6.4 (6.6)
- Gabriel 7.0 (6.6)
- Ben White 7.4 (6.8)
- Takehiro Tomiyasu 6.6 (6.5)
- Albert Sambi Lokonga 7.3 (6.9)
- Thomas Partey 6.9 (6.4)
- Emile Smith Rowe 7.3 (6.9)
- Martin Odegaard 6.3 (6.2)
- Bukayo Saka 6.9 (6.5)
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 5.9 (6.0)
- Nicolas Pepe (for Martin Odegaard) 6.1
- Alexandre Lacazette (for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang) 6.2
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles (for Bukayo Saka) – Came on after 88 minutes so no rating.
Arsenal could have finished the weekend just two points behind Manchester United, who also drew on Saturday when they hosted Everton at Old Trafford.
It would have also taken Mikel Arteta’s men three points ahead of Spurs who play Aston Villa on Sunday.
But it was a point and a poor performance that once again throws questions over Mikel Arteta’s management.
Arsenal should have built on their win against Sours last week and while you can point, rightly, to how good Brighton are, we are meant to be Arsenal.