Considering that Brighton have only just been promoted from the Championship (for the first time in 34 years) and their whole team is probably worth less than Alexis Sanchez on his own, Arsenal fans could be forgiven for thinking that the Gunners will win by a cricket score but the reality is somewhat different.
After a difficult start to the season, with a loss to Man City at home and then a defeat away to Leicester, the Seagulls have settled into their rhythm now and have only lost one of their last four Premiership games, a narrow defeat away at Bournemouth. They have beaten Newcastle and West Brom and had a hard fought 0-0 draw with Watford, and in fact if they win this afternoon they would actually be level on points with us in the middle of the table.
Arsene Wenger is well aware that this is not going to be a walkover, as he said yesterday: “I think it will be difficult to break them down because they are very well organised, they are very disciplined as well. Their team keeps the ball well and from what I’ve seen they have a good technical quality, they try to play everywhere and it is a different challenge for us. But we came back from a good experience away from home. We have done very well at home until now, so we know that it is absolutely vital for us.”
And Le Prof has noticed Brighton’s improvement and believes they have the infrastructure to stay in the top flight. He continued: “I remember we played some cup games a few years ago there and they had a new stadium and you drive home and you think this club is absolutely everything needed to play in the Premier League. They fought every year and just fell off at the last moment and you think they deserved [promotion] because they were on a consistent way always. They were always present in the fight to get up to the Premier League and finally they made it. They have all the structures and that means as well the club has quality people because when you have consistency, that means you have quality people always.”
Wenger has also been impressed with their manager Chris Hughton: “I believe that he will be focused on the quality of his team and try to organise them, which he does very well. He has done an exceptional job with Brighton.”
So let us not get cocky lads, we will have to be disciplined and ready to fight for the points. I always worry when we play teams that look easy on paper and perhaps get a bit overconfident. Let’s not make any mistakes or it could be a tough afternoon at the Emirates….