Arsenal’s rotten return to Premier League football continued with a second loss in as many games following Neal Maupay’s last gasp winner for Brighton at the AMEX Stadium.
One the whole, Mikel Arteta’s side produced a much improved performance from that at Manchester City in midweek. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was relentless in drifting behind the Brighton defence and Bukayo Saka was very comfortable filling the gaps he left. Too often, however, Arsenal squandered their chances.
Nicolas Pepe’s goal was outstanding as he bent the ball into the far corner but being just one goal ahead instead of two or three left the Gunners way too vulnerable in the closing stages of the game.
football.london take a look at some of the talking points from the loss.
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VAR fails Arsenal again
The major talking point from the defeat was Bernd Leno’s injury in the first half. Rising early to collect the ball – initially unchallenged – this should have been a routine action for the German. Instead, he now joins a growing list of injuries which was the worst possibility to come from the situation.
Although, like Maupay, Arteta, Emi Martinez and Graham Potter believe the aerial challenge wasn’t malicious, that doesn’t mean it was completely free of recklessness. Maupay may have been entitled to go up for the ball but even so, on the replay it’s clear to see that Leno had possession before the striker jumped.
Even if there was no intent to injure the goalkeeper, the challenge was reckless but what was most striking was that Maupay escaped without a card. A red may have been harsh considering how tough it would have been to evade Leno once airborne but not even receiving a yellow seemed like a let off.
As the game went on, the frustration that was first visible in the reaction to the challenge grew as Brighton became more comfortable arriving late to challenges. Yves Bissouma being the main culprit, racking up six fouls – including late tackles and stray arms off the ball – without booking.
This could be put down to Brighton showing better gamesmanship on the day but had action been taken on Maupay or any of the six Bissouma fouls, Arsenal’s chances of leaving with three points would have been significantly better off.
VAR was correct in ruling Aubameyang’s goal offside but it feels as if a slight tweak to the way it’s used with fouls wouldn’t go amiss. Especially when realising Sokratis has been wrongly dealt with on two occasions [a foul on him missed and one wrongly given against Calum Chambers to rule out his goal] and Nicolas Pepe had shouts for a penalty ignored when there was clear contact on him in the box against Sheffield United.
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