We’re back up and running again today with another Arsenal match as we try to navigate this death run month that is April and it’s a trip to The Amex for Arteta’s lads in the early evening kick off game. And folks, I gotta tell ya, I think this will be a tough one tonight.

Brighton aren’t in the best of form, we know that, but this is a team who has a very good record against The Arsenal and whilst the side that we will face off tonight will be very different from the lockdown Graham Potter and Neal Maupay-infused side that did over us in 2020 is very different to this iteration, they will certainly pose us questions that I think very few teams have posed so far in 2024. I just have that feeling.

Brighton themselves at home are trending roughly within their overall league position in eighth, having played 14 and won seven of those, with six draws, but the one defeat they have at home shows how we’re going to have to do something only West Ham have done this season – and even that felt like a bit of a smash and grab (less than their win against us at the Emirates, but Brighton still peppered West Ham with 25 attempts at goal and 78% possession). In October they played out a 2-2 draw with Liverpool and they’ve also beaten the Scum at home as well, so they will be no mugs and I am not expecting this to be an easy watch for us.

So what can we expect from Brighton today? Well, we know that they like to play short passing and we know they like to draw teams on to them, a little like us, but they do it in a much deeper manner. Brighton’s average length of distance of the goal kicks they take, for example, is the lowest in the league and they just don’t launch the ball long at all. They favour short passing and are only behind City in their volume of passes that they take, with the second highest pass completion of short passes as well; Brighton want the ball built up from the back and do it in smaller spaces to make themselves difficult to get it off. Which is why they have such high-possession games. The just don’t go long. So Saliba and Gabriel won’t be facing an aerial bombardment today. But they will be facing a team who like to take shots and Brighton are fifth behind Liverpool, City, us and the Scum in terms of the number of shots they take in a game – they average just under 15 shots per match.

Will they get that level of volume today though? You’d hope not though, because this Arsenal side have allowed 65 shots in 30 games this season; with the ‘expected goals’ (i.e. the number of goals we should have conceded this season) standing at just under 21. This season so far our defence has been miserly. So that’s what I am hoping for today again, because if we can restrict Brighton so that their possession-based game means they are keeping the ball in their own half, then we’ve got a chance of nicking it back off of them higher up the pitch, forcing turnover of possession nearer their goal, then reaping the rewards.

Arteta rotated his squad on Wednesday night against Luton and that means that there should be fresher legs for tonight’s game, but I’ve seen talk about how we need to think carefully about Bayern in mind on Tuesday. Not for me. Get the job done today and work out what happens when you get in to the second half tonight if you need to. This Premier League race is such that Liverpool will beat a shoddy Man United side tomorrow and Man City are nailed on to turn over Crystal Palace; if we want to take this attempt at the title to the last few weeks, we can’t afford to lose tonight because it will probably be over if we do. In fact, I’d wager that even a draw is probably not good enough, so we need to see the strongest possible Arsenal side at the Amex against a good Brighton side, so my starting XI for tonight would be:


White   –   Saliba   –   Gabriel   –   Kiwior


Odegaard   –   Rice

Saka   –   Havertz   –   Martinelli

I toyed with the idea of Thomas Partey instead of Jorginho, but Partey played on Wednesday and he looked rusty at times, so bringing in a fresh Jorginho to keep control of the ball at the base of that midfield is essential. Given how Brighton play it feels like us being immaculate on the ball is what is required tonight, so the Italian-Brazilian has to start. Of course Arteta could look to have a similar line up to the one that beat Brighton at the Emirates in December and drop Havertz in to the left eight and play Gabriel Jesus up top, but I just have a feeling that Havertz is top boy in the central striker role right now, plus I think Arteta might be thinking about Jesus for Bayern at home in midweek, given his form in the Champions League. That game in December was arguably Arsenal’s best of the season and we restricted a very good Brighton team to absolutely nothing; I’m pretty sure I remember seeing the halftime stats and they hadn’t had a single attempt – on or off target – so if we can get something like that today I think we’d all be delighted.

Then it is about what we can do at the other end of the pitch and that is why I feel like Martinelli and Saka starting will be key for us; Brighton might build up play from deep, but they won’t sit deep and there could be green grass to run in behind, which is why it feels like a game for Martinelli and if you remember last season, he had a fair bit of joy getting in behind on New Year’s Eve.

At the other end of the pitch Brighton are missing Mitoma, who had the run around on Ben White at the Emirates last season, plus Evan Ferguson is out too, which means they’ll be reliant on Joao Pedro centrally and I have a sneaky suspicion they might call on Danny Welbeck to come back and haunt us. He does like scoring against his former employers as we know when he managed to bag goals against United, but he also did the same against us when playing for Watford so there might be something that De Zerbi fancies doing tonight. He could call on Buonanotte and Adingra, who will cause some troubles too, so there is some food for thought there for Arteta on how he sets up his team tonight.

We know what is in front of us. We know we don’t have an amazing record at Brighton. We know that they continue to be excellent at home this season and we know that to come away with all three points there is going to have to be one heck of a performance. But that is what you have to do if you want to be in the conversation about winning the league. So go get it today, Arsenal.

Fingers crossed boys and girls.

We’ll be recording a post match review show tomorrow at 10am so hopefully it’s a happy pod with us talking about another win.

Catch you all tomorrow.