By 90Min
March 03, 2018

Two teams in very different moods meet at the Amex Stadium on Sunday, as a buoyant Brighton host a disheartened Arsenal.

The Seagulls have enjoyed a profitable few weeks in the Premier League, collecting seven points from their last three matches. This included a dazzling performance in last weekend's 4-1 win over Swansea, which marked the first time that Brighton have scored four in a match this season.

By contrast, Arsenal have endured a miserable week which has left Arsene Wenger's future hanging in the balance. The Gunners were outclassed by Manchester City twice in five days, losing 3-0 in Sunday's League Cup final, and then again on Thursday in the Premier League. That result leaves Arsenal ten points adrift of the top four ahead of this weekend's games.

Here's everything you need to know about this intriguing encounter.


Classic Encounter

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Brighton 2-3 Arsenal (26 January 2013, FA Cup)

"Which one?" you might ask, and understandably so. Brighton hosted Arsenal twice in the FA Cup fourth round within the space of three seasons, and on both occasions Arsenal won 3-2 at the Amex. But it was the first of these two carbon copy clashes, in 2013, which really set the pulse racing.

Arsenal's Premier League class shone through with their first goal, as Tomas Rosicky and Lukas Podolski linked up nicely before Olivier Giroud finished with aplomb past Casper Ankergren. A short corner routine then gave Brighton their equaliser as Ashley Barnes headed in from David Lopez's cross with Wojciech Szczesny waiting for a ball that never came.

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Podolski struck the Brighton bar with a brilliant free-kick, but the Gunners did regain the lead when Giroud controlled an Abou Diaby pass before firing in his second of the day. But Brighton fought back again and Barnes was the creator this time, whipping in a cross which debutant Leonardo Ulloa stooped to head into the net.

The stadium was rocking at the prospect of a famous result, but there was one last twist in the tale. Ankergren came to punch a corner away but didn't get enough on it, and the ball fell to Theo Walcott, whose deflected shot found the corner to break Brighton hearts.


Key Battle

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Jose Izquierdo vs Hector Bellerin

Glenn Murray may have received all the plaudits for his double against Swansea last weekend, but Jose Izquierdo played just as big a role in Brighton's resounding victory. He butchered the Swans defence with his pace and set up Brighton's second goal before playing a key role in the fourth as well.

One can't imagine that Hector Bellerin will relish facing the Colombian in this form. Bellerin faced a backlash from some corners of the Arsenal support after his vocal criticism of Arsenal Fan TV, with many believing that his performances have not been good enough to earn him the right to criticise the fans.

Murray is undoubtedly a fine finisher, but a lot will depend on how many chances Izquierdo can create for him. If the winger can have Bellerin on toast as he did with Federico Fernandez last week, there's no reason why Brighton can't match their more illustrious visitors.


Team News

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The only major injury news for either team is the back injury suffered by Nacho Monreal in the League Cup final. The Spaniard, who many consider to be Arsenal's player of the season, picked up the injury 26 minutes into the game at Wembley and subsequently missed Thursday's league game at the Emirates. Sead Kolasinac is expected to deputise at left-back.

Arsene Wenger could be tempted to make some changes due to the close proximity of Thursday's game and this one, but he cannot afford to field a weakened team and risk dropping more points. Therefore, expect a strong team from the Gunners.

Chris Hughton has no new injury worries and no reason to make any changes from the side that dismantled Swansea.


Potential Brighton Starting Lineup: Ryan; Schelotto, Dunk, Duffy, Bong; Knockaert, Stephens, Propper, Izquierdo; Gross, Murray


Potential Arsenal Starting Lineup: Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Kolasinac; Ramsey, Wilshere, Xhaka; Ozil, Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan


Prediction

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How to choose between a talented team in terrible form and a limited side who are flying high? The arc of history would seem to favour Arsenal, who haven't lost to Brighton since 1982 - though admittedly, the two sides have only met five times since then.


October's meeting at the Emirates was a tediously one-sided affair, but Brighton have come on leaps and bounds since then. Recent home performances will stand them in good stead and high confidence for this one, even though they have struggled against big six opposition so far this season.


It cannot be forgotten that Arsenal were in action on Thursday, while Brighton will be playing for the first time in eight days. Fresh legs will provide a huge boost for the home side. I won't be so bold as to back a famous Brighton victory, but I do believe the Seagulls can take another small step towards safety here.


Prediction: Brighton 1-1 Arsenal

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