By Chris Harris
Alex Lacazette scored just 21 seconds after coming on as a substitute as we ended 2020 with a victory.
Our French striker replaced Gabriel Martinelli and immediately latched onto a pass from Bukayo Saka following a driving run from the England international. Lacazette took a touch to steady himself and buried a shot into the bottom corner.
It was a dramatic arrival from our top scorer, and it secured us back-to-back wins for the first time since the opening two games of the season.
We had lots of possession in a promising opening spell, during which Emile Smith Rowe caught the eye again.
But, aside from a couple of dangerous crosses from Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin, we had very little penetration in the final third.
Brighton certainly had the better first-half chances.
Alireza Jahanbakhsh fired over the bar and was later denied another strike on goal when Smith Rowe slid in to dispossess him. Then Leno got down well to save a third opportunity for Jahanbakhsh.
Perhaps fortunate to be level at the break, we were a different beast after the restart. In fact, after just one shot in the first 45 minutes, we rained in five shots in the first nine minutes of the second half.
Saka raced down the left and crossed low for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who seemed certain to score. To the captain's dismay, his shot hit goalkeeper Robert Sanchez and flew over the bar.
Seconds later Smith Rowe's quick feet set up a chance for Martinelli, but he curled just over. Then Aubameyang shot wide at the end of a speedy counter-attack.
This was a much more purposeful, potent performance, and it culminated in Lacazette's show-stealing introduction.
Saka was forced off with an injury not long after setting up the goal, but we were professional and pragmatic and saw the game out.
After a tough couple of months, we are upwardly mobile heading into 2021.
HOW IT HAPPENED
WHAT IT MEANS
Lacazette is our top scorer in all competitions this season, with seven goals
All five of Laca's goals in the Premier League this season have been the opening goal of the game
Lacazette's winner was our first goal from open play in six away league games
We've won back-to-back league games for the first time since our opening two games of the season
We've kept seven clean sheets in our 18 Premier League away games under Mikel Arteta
We've ended a run of five games without a league win at Brighton
Mikel Arteta's delight with our Boxing Day display against Chelsea was reflected in his line-up.
He opted for just one change, giving Lacazette a breather and bringing back Aubameyang.
That meant the exciting attacking trio of Martinelli, Smith Rowe and Saka kept their places, while Pablo Mari continued alongside Rob Holding in defence.
Gabriel is isolating after testing positive for COVID-19 while Thomas Partey (thigh), David Luiz and Willian (illness) are yet to return to full training.
Our first fixture of 2021 is at The Hawthorns on Saturday where we'll face West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League.
After that we kick off our defence of the Emirates FA Cup - at home to Newcastle United on January 9.
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