Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's side face Brighton & Hove Albion at Amex Stadium on Sunday. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.
Brighton boss Chris Hughton has been the scourge of Arsenal before, masterminding 1-0 victories over the Gunners with Newcastle in 2010 and Norwich in 2012 - and he’ll be determined to make it a hat-trick this weekend.
The fact both those victories were 1-0 underlines Hughton’s approach. He plays a 4-4-1-1 system and instructs his side to remain compact, denying space between the lines.
With that Norwich victory, it was notable how the Canaries kept a high line against Olivier Giroud, although now Arsenal have pacier players in the final third, Hughton could order his players to sit deeper.
This is even more likely given the age of his centre-backs. Captain Gordon Greer is 34, his centre-back partner Aaron Hughes now 35, so these players prefer to defend close to their own box.
That said, Hughes is a superb reader of the game and stays on his feet, rather than diving into tackles, which gives full backs Bruno Saltor and Joe Bennett license to attack, although they could be reined in to guard against Arsenal counter-attacks.
The central midfielders are also likely to remain in position. Danny Holla is a good all-round midfielder who covers ground well, while Rohan Ince is a big physical presence and a threat at set-pieces too. These players will largely leave the attacking to the wide players and the two up front.
Youngster Solly March was largely a supersub under Sami Hyypia, but has found himself regularly starting under Hughton. A direct player who enjoys cutting inside from the right on to his left foot, he’s set up two goals in his four starts so far this year.
On the opposite flank, Hughton has been using Sam Baldock. He’s naturally a forward and will arrive at the far post to support the lone striker, either Craig Mackail-Smith or Chris O’Grady, who have both been short of goals this season and have spent time out on loan.
The main threat, though, will be Joao Carlos Teixeira, a skilful forward on loan from Liverpool. He’s only started two games under Hughton but he was superb in the 3-2 midweek victory over Ipswich Town, scoring twice - including one brilliant curling shot from 25 yards. A bundle of tricks, he will punish Arsenal if allowed space between the lines, and must be watched carefully.
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