Try to look on the Brighton side

Arsenal lost 3-1 at home to Brighton and Hove Albion in the League cup, it was Arsenal’s first home defeat in 12 matches, the last also being at the hands of perfidious Albion.

Here in North America we couldn’t watch the match. The commentary was live on the dot com, with images of the commentators looking annoyed when Arsenal made mistakes. But that was the thin gruel of coverage I received for this one.

I didn’t listen/watch to the entire match but I did catch enough of the reaction from the two commentators to know that Arsenal had a mixed bag of play for this match. Apparently we were more dominant to start the second half, giving lots of energy, and were caught out against the run of play for their second goal. I take solace in the fact that Arteta after the match praised his players for their efforts.

“Losing is [disappointing], but the way the boys tried and played, and the amount of changes that we had to make because of the congestion and we have to protect the players and give them chances. I’m really happy with that, but obviously, we wanted to continue in the competition and unfortunately, we are out.”

On the one hand many are pleased or at least non-plussed about the loss. Arsenal have to make up two matches (Everton and Man City) when football returns after the World Cup, and so there’s a level of relief at the idea that one more stopper has been pulled out to relieve fixture congestion.

But there’s an equally legitimate worry that the Arsenal backups aren’t quite at the level needed to push all the way in a title challenge. If Arsenal are a band, the starters are playing some fine fine music. So, we are hoping the backups sing like the Supremes but time and again they hit a note so sour that they seem to sound like the guy who backed Joe Cocker at Woodstock.

While I can’t say for certain that’s what happened yesterday we have seen Arsenal hit sour notes recently in the Europa Leagues and now the League Cup with our backups. Arteta suggested after the match, however, that he was more pleased with this performance and was ready to forgive the players, depending on their reaction to the defeat.

Which is another way to look at a loss like this: the 2nd string needs matches, and even defeats, to get themselves fit enough and experienced enough to step in when the openings appear. And there will be openings. Arsenal resume League football on December 26th and from then until the end of the season the schedule is going to be packed with FA Cup, Europa League, and Premier League matches.

Many of the Arsenal first team are heading to Qatar for the World Cup (Benjamin White was selected today along with Saka, Ramsdale, and as we know Jesus and Martinelli were selected for Brazil) and those players will almost certainly return with fitness problems and even probably some injuries. The opportunities are going to be there for the players who played yesterday to play more first team matches. We need them fit and firing and the only way to get that is for them to play.

Losing to Brighton isn’t ideal but reading in to what Arteta said after the match, it feels like he was happier with the way that we played than the score line would suggest. That bodes well for the backups and the first team. We can’t have players hitting sour notes when Arsenal face Newcastle, Spurs, and Man U when Arsenal play them on January 3rd, 14th, and 21st.



  1. Saliba, “We cover each other’s mistakes.”

    So I assume Arteta sees the defeat as a teamwork failure rather than players’ respective abilities/individual performances.

    A goal will then mean, to the Boss, that somehow someone’s mistake was not covered by another, as they should – as players will make mistakes, and will still make mistakes in their testimonial matches probably.

    It’s the human condition.

    And I suspect the Boss simply loves the challenge of figuring out why it failed in the B team.

    1. Looking at the substitutions tells you which boss wanted to win more. Arteta never risked Thomas or Ode but De Zerbi brought on all his regulars.

  2. I got the impression that the lack of broadcast was not just a North American thing, but global…sounded like it wasn’t being shown anywhere. The pirate stream site I checked didn’t have it. Kind of ridiculous that a match between two teams in the top half of the PL wasn’t on at all.
    In any case, if we were going to lose a match, this is one I’d certainly have picked. Hopefully we take care of business at Wolves and then stay injury free. We’ve had good luck on that front so far this season, but it might be too much to ask for that to go the whole season. Sounds like ESR will be back in Jan, which should help on the attacking front.

  3. I honestly didn’t think we’d lose, especially at home. I figured we’d give up the Carabao Cup ghost on some desolate away porch in the middle of winter.

    But honestly, the sooner the better. We have a legit campaign in the Premier League, certainly good enough to envision Champions League next season. And maybe, maybe something more…?

    My concern is about this bs World Cup which I won’t be watching (see my previous post) is its potential to derail our current momentum and worse, produce the spectre of the I-word.

    Please no…

  4. There is a definite silver lining to last night’s defeat though pre-match I wanted us to win this game. However our ten changes to make it a second-string team plus Saliba for most of the match proved inadequate to the challenge. Last night underlined the drop in quality when our three first-choice midfielders are absent and the is a flaw in the squad that must be addressed in January if we are to meet your new expectation! The news that, had we won last night, we would have been playing the next tie 2 days after the WC Final renders the disappointment of defeat somewhat moot.

    1. Reading Arteta’s interview I would say that the odds of getting in any more players in January are between 0.001 and 0.002

  5. From what I could tell, there was an element of bad luck in the loss, which is not to say that Brighton didn’t deserve the win.
    Brighton started well, Arsenal weathered it and hit back with a nice goal – good run from Nelson and confident finish from Nketiah. But then we conceded not long after when Hein slipped coming out to get to an overhit long ball and gave away a penalty. Second half, Arsenal started out on top and had a few openings, but Brighton scored on the counter and then killed it off with another transition goal for the third.
    Brighton are clearly a well drilled side – this wasn’t a full second 11 – so not a big surprise they turned us over. Besides the unlucky first goal conceded, the main reason for the loss was we didn’t put away the chances when we were on top. This is unfortunately a theme even in the first-choice team, although the starters do a much better job of maintaining control.
    I can see why Arteta was more upbeat. Despite the inevitable blame, Lokonga seemed to at least be a little more involved from the commentary. Elneny is still rusty and needs more minutes. Nelson is hopefully finding is feet and can give Saka a rest every now and again against some of the weaker teams. Nketiah seemed confident the way he was shooting.
    Big disappointment for me is Vieira, who has looked off pace for a while. Hopefully its just adjustment to a new country/league without a preseason. The World Cup break could be nice if we can get him up to speed and ESR back fully fit after.

  6. Yeah, exactly. Apparently we took a deserved lead but Karl Hein, Estonia’s #1, made a blunder and they got a penalty and that changed the game.

    Brighton are formidable as well. De Zerbi has been garnering plaudits and some say his team already plays a better tactical game than under Potter, whom he beat 4-1, as elaborated by the outstanding @EBL2017, and he is doing it with peanuts and cast offs like Welbeck and Lallana.

    They also recruit so so well. I LOVE watching Kauro Mitoma. He is like Mahrez, not only 1v1 skills but an incisive passer too and works really hard, versatile. Has Arteta written all over him but still under the radar… snap him up boss! He will be in Qatar and will no doubt start for Japan. If they make it far it will be because of his insane goal creating actions per 90. Their repacement for Cucurella, a chap named Estupinian, also looks the part and probably cost them a fraction of the transfer fee from Chelsea. Then there is Moises Caicedo who looks like an upgrade on Bissouma. Brighton are no doubt one of the best run clubs in England from top to bottom.

  7. Wolves aren’t what they used to be under Nuno but Arsenal handed a tough task here today, fighting a new manager bounce, away from home, late kickoff, very negative opponent with nothing much to lose, now also missing their agent of chaos extraordinaire.

    Wolves playing a flat back 5 out of possession with track stars on either flank to mitigate damage from Saka and Martinelli in 1 v1 situations. Clogging the middle as per usual. Will need more FB overlaps or third man runs from Ode and Fabio to create the necessary overloads but that places more stress on an already very high back line. Wolves have the ultimate track star up front as well. The other thing we should be doing more is taking shots from outside when the space is there, especially Fabio.

    1. Arteta identified the issue and his players responded. Goal from midfield run by Fabio. Catches Wolves cold. Serves up the goal to Martin. Lovely.

  8. This is certainly well beyond my wildest expectations. 5 clear for the break. And 7 clear of 3rd with a match in hand.
    And yeah, City might still be favorites, but if we can keep most folks healthy, looking like we can actually give them a run for it.

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