Arteta maintained his commitment to honesty being the best policy, saying “it was a point gained because I don’t think we deserved anything more than that” and I don’t see any room for argument there.
All things considered, a draw wasn’t the worst result after 3 consecutive wins and Brighton have earned their place in the table. Given the air of despair that hung over the club after the opening 3 games, a loss may have sent the more hysterical arm of the fanbase back down the rabbit hole. For the players and Arteta, winning the North London derby in such emphatic fashion for it to then be undone the following week would have left an equally sour taste.
With no midweek games for either, Brighton were in the same boat as Arsenal but their intensity set the tone for the match and unlike last week, Arsenal were on the back foot for the majority of the game. There won’t be many more opportunities for that to be an excuse, especially without taxing European away fixtures but Brighton, much like Brentford, are smartly managed, tenacious and organised.
In terms of projects, Graham Potter finally seems to be on the right side of xG and even though they failed to score again on Saturday despite managing 21 efforts at Ramsdale, few troubled him. Smith Rowe almost snatched a lead but expecting Arsenal’s youngest to always deliver when they’re most needed is a tall ask. Instead, it was Arsenal’s two (relative) elder statesmen in Partey and Aubameyang that were the most ineffective.
When Lacazette was introduced in the 72nd minute, Arsenal had a better hold in the final third but it’s not like it makes any sense to drop Aubameyang after a good performance in the North London derby. In many ways, his selection is always complicated by his captaincy. Without it, some situational flexibility could be justified from time to time and there is clearly a willingness to justify his contract even if the fit isn’t quite right tactically. His involvement was limited and he had far less joy against Dunk and Burn than against Spurs. This was particularly felt when Ramsdale was forced to go long – which was often the case thanks to Brighton’s effective press. In failing to win either the first or second ball, the ball was often back with Brighton and Arsenal’s disconnect between their midfield and front three was a standout problem on the day. Martin Odegaard also had a forgettable day and was the first to be replaced.
Arsenal’s best men on the day were the busiest defensively. Mr. Sambi Lokonga continues to quietly go about his business in a very tidy manner and got through a lot of work under difficult circumstances. White and Gabriel managed another clean sheet and handled Brighton’s aerial threat and constant bombardment of the box well, with Ramsdale also more than playing his part. The crucial diving interception he made was worthy of a point alone and it’s now 4 clean sheets in 5 for his Arsenal career.
Like Brentford. Brighton are a team that will take points off better teams than Arsenal this season purely because they don’t give you handouts if you’re having an off-day. Arteta’s job is now to raise the levels of those off-days and continue finding ways to win points that we don’t deserve while producing more days like last Saturday when we are at the races.