Arsenal produced a perfect response to last week’s Premier League defeat against Aston Villa as they claimed a 2-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion.
Mikel Arteta’s men rang the changes for their Champions League clash against PSV Eindhoven in midweek and it was no surprise to see them fly out of the blocks against Brighton who were in action less than 72 hours ago against Olympique Marseille.
Arsenal’s best chance of the opening half came just past the hour mark as Bukayo Saka got on the end of an exquisite pass from Martin Odegaard to square the ball across for Gabriel Martinelli who fired over the bar.
Martinelli was played in on goal by Oleksandr Zinchenko seven minutes from the interval but the Brazilian was denied by Bart Verbruggen and the resulting rebound fell to Kai Havertz who was denied by an excellent block from Jan Paul van Hecke.
With half-time approaching, Arsenal upped the ante as they looked to make their dominance count.
The final opportunity of the first half fell to Saka after some good pressure by Odegaard to win the ball back but the Englishman could not get his right-footed attempt on target with the angle firmly against him.
Unsurprisingly, the second half kicked off as the first period ended with Arsenal firmly in the ascendancy.
The Gunners deservingly broke the deadlock eight minutes after half time through Gabriel Jesus who somehow got on the end of Saka’s corner following some dreadful defending by Brighton.
Buoyed by their opener, Arsenal showed no signs of taking their feet off the gas as they looked to double their lead in next to no time.
Having watched his side emerge second-best for the first hour of the contest, De Zerbi turned to his bench with Joao Pedro, Facundo Buonanotte and Igor Julio all coming on.
Brighton’s triple substitution was followed by their first effort of the game via Jack Hinshelwood’s header from Pascal Gross’ delivery.
Barely 15 minutes after taking the lead from a set piece, Arsenal caused Brighton further problems from dead-ball situations and it took a last-gasp intervention from Lewis Dunk to prevent Ben White from sneaking in a second for the hosts.
Kai Havertz came close to getting himself on the scoresheet in the 75th minute but the German could not keep his header down from Martinelli’s cross.
Despite all of Arsenal’s attacking intensity, Brighton kept the deficit down at one and nearly got back on level terms eight minutes from the end of normal time when Gross inexplicably failed to convert from point-blank range after some nice work from Pedro and Mitoma.
Down the other end, Brighton were made to pay for their wastefulness in front of goal as Eddie Nketiah combined with Kai Havertz which resulted in the German finishing with aplomb for his fourth goal of the season.
Arsenal’s second goal put the result beyond doubt and consolidated a well-deserved win for the North Londoners who have returned to the summit of the Premier League table ahead of Liverpool’s clash against Manchester United.
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