We saw our Carabao Cup campaign end at the third-round stage as Brighton & Hove Albion ended our 12-match winning run at Emirates Stadium.
Things began promisingly enough when Eddie Nketiah gave us the lead after 20 minutes, but that was swiftly cancelled out by a Danny Welbeck penalty before Kaoru Mitoma flipped the contest around 12 minutes into the second half.
With 19 minutes remaining, Tariq Lamptey added a third for the impressive Seagulls, who had been the previous side to beat us on home turf back in April.
Gunners present and past on target
The opening exchanges saw Roberto De Zerbi’s team twice fire narrowly into the North Bank in quick succession when Jeremy Sarmiento and Julio Enciso both cut inside and let fly, but couldn’t trouble Karl Hein, making his Gunners first-team bow.
But the breakthrough would come down the other end of the field, as on 20 minutes we found the breakthrough with an effective counter-attack.
Rob Holding muscled Enciso off the ball to feed Reiss Nelson, who shimmied past a defender and burst forward 30 yards, before laying the ball off for Nketiah to bend the ball first-time past Jason Steele to score his third of the season.
However our lead held for just seven minutes. A hopeful through-ball towards Welbeck was overhit, but Hein slipped and allowed the former Gunner to reach it first. He rounded the Estonian keeper who tripped him, and Welbeck dusted himself off to send the debutant the wrong way from 12 yards and restore parity.
Brighton complete the comeback
From that point onwards though, it only looked like one team was going to get the next goal. Mohamed Elneny saw a blast from range deflect over the crossbar before the half-time whistle, and after the break a host of chances fell our way during the opening 10 minutes.
Nketiah was a whisker away from netting a second when he thumped a shot off the post which somehow evaded a host of onrushing red shirts, and then Steele produced a wonderful, full-stretch save to claw away a Nelson close-range header, before Sambi Lokonga fizzed an effort fractions wide from the edge of the area.
But then we were hit with a sucker punch by our visitors, in similar fashion to how we opened the scoring. Sarmiento was allowed the carry the ball forward before slipping it to Mitoma, and the half-time introduction showed good composure to take a touch before whipping a shot past Heim and turn the tie on its head.
Lamptey finishes it off
Mikel Arteta turned to his bench to try and change the course of the tie, but on 71 minutes, the Seagulls snatched a third to all-but end our cup hopes just before more of our big guns could be added to the fray.
Billy Gilmour found Lamptey on the left and the wing-back scuttled into the box, managed to go one-on-one with Hein and slide the ball into the net and put his team in firm control of the tie.
A quick response was needed if we were to claw our way back into contention, and it nearly came when Gabriel Martinelli was picked out at the back post but Steele saved well with his feet, and the Brazilian was denied by the keeper again with five minutes remaining when he rose highest for a header, ending our chances of lifting the trophy for the first time since 1993 for another season.
We head to Wolverhampton on Saturday for an evening meeting with Wolves, in what is our final game before the World Cup break.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.