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Brighton 0-0 Arsenal: 5 talking points as Gunners left frustrated in washout at the Amex
03/10/2021 11:06:26

Arsenal held Brighton to an entertaining scoreless draw at the Amex Stadium on Saturday in a game played amid storm-like conditions.

The home side were the better side for the majority of the match and enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and the majority of the encounter’s clear-cut opportunities.

The Seagulls were dominant through much of the first half and while Mikel Arteta’s side improved after the break, they were unable to find a breakthrough.

It was a result that continues Brighton ’s impressive start to the campaign while it ends the Gunners impressive mini-revival of three successive Premier League victories.

Here are five talking points from a game that was full of incident despite finishing as a stalemate.

White back at Brighton

Much of the pre-match narrative was understandably focused on Ben White facing Brighton for the first time since switching to Arsenal in a £50million summer transfer.

The England international had endured a tough debut for the Gunners in an opening day loss at Brentford but the weeks since had seen White settle down in the defensive back four.

After multiple injuries and transfers, Arsenal now appear to have settled on their strongest line up for defence with White partnering the Brazilian Gabriel Magalhaes.

The two produced a solid display at White’s old club, as Arsenal secured their third clean sheet in four league games - even if they did ride their luck at times with Brighton’s wasteful finishing.

Brighton back to their best

Graham Potter’s Brighton spent much of last season perched just above the relegation zone and despite finishing 16th, won plenty of plaudits for their style of play.

Indeed, lacklustre finishing in the final third is what held the Seagulls back from a possible towards a top half finish - and many of those signs were there on Saturday.

Brighton started this game just one point off the top of the league and having caught the eye in the opening weeks of the campaign.

They were the better side for the majority of Saturday’s clash and particularly in the first half - were they spurned several excellent openings to take the lead.

Brighton caused Mikel Arteta’s side all sorts of problems throughout and once again appear to be a thoroughly well-coached side.

There are unlikely to be any lingering relegation concerns this season.

No Partey piece

The significance of Thomas Partey in the Arsenal midfield has only increased with a lengthy injury layoff for Granit Xhaka.

The Ghanaian partnered Albert Samabi Lokonga at the base of the midfield for the trip to the South Coast, but the duo struggled to get a foothold against a vibrant Brighton midfield.

Partey is not renowned for his attacking threat but he frequently tried his luck from range during this game - firing off four long-distance at goal, neither of which caused major panic for the hosts.

This tendency will no doubt have frustrated Gunners fans, with the unlikely efforts meaning that no attacking move was allowed to develop from a strong position on the pitch.

It is unclear if the former Atletico Madrid player is being encouraged to try his luck from range from the coaching staff, but it is a plan that is not paying off.

Tierney’s key attacking role

The importance of Kieran Tierney at Arsenal is nothing new - the Scotland international has continually impressed since his transfer from Celtic two years ago.

Tierney put in his usual energetic performance for the Gunners with the significance of his role highlighted by the ‘average position’ map of Arsenal both with and without the ball.

When Mikel Arteta’s side were not in possession, their shape was the usual 4-2-3-1 in a deep-lying formation but when the Gunners had the ball there was just one significant change - Tierney was positioned almost as a left-winger.

This illustrated how the Scot was a major attacking outlet for Arteta’s side throughout the match, whereas right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu was not encouraged to move forward so much - with the remaining defenders shifting slightly left-wards into a ‘three at the back’ shape to accommodate Tierney’s attacking instincts.

As Arsenal started without a naturally left-footed attacker, Tierney’s advances forward provided much needed balance in attack and allowed Emile Smith-Rowe to drift inside.

Gunners stunted in attack

Arsenal scored just five goals in their opening six Premier League matches - three of which came in a blitz against a disorganised Tottenham last week.

There are still concerns over Mikel Arteta’s side attacking strength and that was outlined again at the Amex without a notable attacking threat.

After Bukayo Saka’s shot in the first minute, Arsenal had to wait over 70 minutes for their next shot on target: Emile Smith-Rowe facing Robert Sanchez into a save on the counter-attack.

While the defence has stabilised, the Gunners still need to find balance in the opponent’s half.

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