Brighton hold Arsenal but Aubameyang scores again
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores his 13th goal of the season but Brighton cling on
Brighton’s Jurgen Locadia scores his team’s goal against Arsenal. Photograph: Reuters
Brighton 1 Arsenal 1
Arsenal’s last trip to the south coast had ended in a shock defeat at Southampton 10 days earlier but they avoided another damaging result thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 13th goal of the season and a much more solid defensive display than that at St Mary’s. Jürgen Locadia, though, equalised to give Chris Hughton’s side an invaluable point after a run of three defeats of their own.
Hughton will be the happier manager, with Arsenal beginning the evening 14 points adrift of Liverpool, whom they meet at Anfield on Saturday night. Brighton had to endure a torrid start and deserved their precious point.
For Brighton it was a bad time to be without the services of Lewis Dunk, their England central defender, who was banned after his dismissal at Bournemouth on Saturday. Dunk had scored one of Brighton’s goals in the 2-1 win here over Arsène Wenger’s side last season and he left a large hole in a defence facing the threat of Aubameyang, the Premier League’s top scorer.
The Gabon striker was soon causing Brighton problems, his lob forcing Mat Ryan to turn the ball over the bar and moments later Brighton failed to clear the danger and Aubameyang found himself unmarked in the area. His finishing is as sharp as a tack at the moment and an angled first-time shot gave the stranded Australia goalkeeper no chance.
Glenn Murray had returned to lead Brighton’s attack and midway through the first half gave the visitors’ defence a fright when he appeared to have beaten Bernd Leno to a low cross and turned the ball over the line only to have been ruled by Anthony Taylor to have fouled the goalkeeper. Murray continued to pose a danger, with Leno forced to stretch to save a snap shot from the veteran striker.
Aubameyang, though, continued to keep the makeshift Brighton defence honest, missing a chance at the other end before Brighton equalised out of the blue. Granit Xhaka’s corner was cleared and Davy Pröpper hit a hopeful ball downfield. The bounce eluded Stephan Lichtsteiner, who headed the ball into the path of Locadia, who had come from nowhere to beat Leno from the edge of the area.
Alex Iwobi replaced Mesut Özil at the break. The German, making his 200th appearance for a side he seems destined to be leaving soon, had shown some nice touches in the first half without really imposing himself on the game. Instead it was Mattéo Guendouzi who was pulling most of the strings for Arsenal midfield. He had ended the first half in some pain, with Martín Montoya booked for a reckless challenge on the shaggy-haired Frenchman.
Pröpper had a chance on the hour as Brighton continued to look the most likely side to break the deadlock. Solly March, influential in Brighton’s midfield, had another chance when he escaped the clutches of Xhaka but his shot did not trouble Leno. Arsenal survived but it was not a convincing display.