We round off 2022 with a visit to the south coast to face Brighton, with both teams enjoying 3-1 Boxing Day successes following their return to Premier League action.
It has been just 52 days since we last faced the Seagulls, who knocked us out of the Carabao Cup via another 3-1 victory at Emirates Stadium, which gives Roberto De Zerbi’s side the chance to beat us in three successive games for the first time ever.
The Amex Stadium hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for us in recent years, but this season’s stats offer hope of changing that, with six clean sheets claimed from our eight league away trips - more than any other side and already matching our efforts last term.
High-flying Seagulls impress
A strong start brought four wins from Brighton’s opening six games and a spot in the top four before Graham Potter upped sticks to Chelsea, leaving many to wonder if the club would crumble, especially after De Zerbi failed to win any of his first five matches.
However, a 4-1 thrashing of the Blues on Potter’s return to the south coast, followed by victories over Wolves and then ourselves proved any doubters wrong. Despite a home defeat to Aston Villa, Brighton headed into the World Cup break in seventh place.
They returned to domestic action earlier than us with Carabao Cup obligations to fulfil, but were dumped out of the competition on penalties by League One Charlton Athletic following a goalless draw. However, a 3-1 win over Southampton on Boxing Day provided plenty of festive cheer on the south coast, as De Zerbi looks to end a positive year on a high.
What to expect
From Michael Cox: De Zerbi has largely stuck to the Potter template since taking charge. Lewis Dunk and Adam Webster is the first-choice centre-back partnership, while Lewis Colwill has deputised in Webster’s absence and Joel Veltman has joined them as part of a back three.
He can move out to right-back if needed, while Pevis Estupinan offers an attacking threat from left-back. Adam Lallana often plays the No 10 role, with Pascal Gross the alternative if he’s not required elsewhere.
Down the right, Solly March is enjoying a fine campaign, showing trickery out wide and also acting as a goal threat at the far post, while Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo have formed a good midfield partnership, but both will be missing on Saturday.
What the managers say
Arteta on Brighton: “They are a really good team, playing at a really high level. They are a team that dominate almost every phase of play that is relevant to dominate a football match. They have a lot of confidence and play with their own personality.
“It is always a really difficult and tricky game. They have a lot of individual quality, a lot of composure on the ball. They are a team that are really aggressive and they will ask some big questions. We’ll need to be at a really high level to win the game." - watch or read the whole press conference.
De Zerbi on us: "I am not surprised [by Arsenal's season], because I know Arteta, I know the Arsenal players, they play fantastic football. But I have to only think about my team. I must admit that in the Carabao Cup that we were lucky to win because Arsenal played well but we are improving and we have to stay focused on this improvement.
"The style of play of Arsenal is fantastic, no? The players know very well what they have to do on the pitch. And they think only one way - with the ball and without the ball. And they have very, very good players."
We will be without Gabriel Jesus following his knee injury sustained at the World Cup, as well as Reiss Nelson who pulled his hamstring against Juventus a fortnight ago.
However, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Emile Smith Rowe have both returned to training, with the defender closer to a first-team return than the midfielder - hear Arteta discuss the duo.
Caicedo will miss the game through suspension after picking up five yellow cards with Billy Gilmour predicted to deputise, and Danny Welbeck and Webster are both out with muscular issues.
Jakub Moder is a long-term casualty with a knee injury, while Mac Allister has been granted time off following his World Cup exploits and has yet to return to training.
Facts and stats
Brighton have lost just one of their five Premier League home games against us, a 1-0 defeat in December 2020.
The Seagulls are one of just three teams that we have lost (4) more Premier League games than we’ve won (3) against, along with Manchester United (W17 L26) and Liverpool (W17 L25).
Brighton have lost their final league game in just one of the last six calendar years (W3 D2), though that defeat did come at home to us in 2020.
We have won just two of our last seven league games played on New Year's Eve (D3 L2), beating Aston Villa 3-0 in 1988 and QPR 1-0 in 2011. Meanwhile, Brighton have lost five of their last seven, with the only victory in that run coming against Birmingham City in 1988.
Brighton have lost two of their four home league games under De Zerbi (W1 D1), having been unbeaten in their final seven under Potter.
After netting against us in November, Welbeck has now scored four goals in his last five games against us.
Martin Odegaard netted braces at both Bournemouth and Wolves, and only five players have ever scored multiple goals for us in 3+ away games in a single Premier League campaign – Ian Wright, Dennis Bergkamp, Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin van Persie and Alexis Sanchez.
For the second successive game we’ll be refereed by a World Cup-appointed official, with Anthony Taylor overseeing two games in Qatar.
He has been a good omen for us, after he was in charge of our opening day win against Crystal Palace, and the north London derby success over Tottenham Hotspur in October. In fact, we have lost just six of the 43 games he has overseen, which includes the 2017 and 2020 FA Cup final victories over Chelsea.
- Referee: Anthony Taylor
- Assistant Referee 1: Gary Beswick
- Assistant Referee 2: Adam Nunn
- Fourth Official: Jarred Gillett
- VAR: Paul Tierney
- Additional VAR: Constantine Hatzidakis
Recent trips to the Amex
Visits to Brighton haven’t proved to be too fruitful for ourselves since the Seagulls were promoted to the Premier League back in 2017, as we have won just once at the venue in five attempts.
That came back in December 2020 when Alexandre Lacazette netted the only goal of the game, while last season we played out a goalless draw, and back in June 2020 Neal Maupay netted in the last minute to claim a 2-1 victory for the hosts.
However we did twice win 3-2 in the FA Cup before the Seagulls’ promotion, back in 2012/13 and 2014/15.
Watch those, plus other classic action from our trips to Brighton, in our playlist
Tune into Arsenal.com and the official app from 4.30pm (UK time) when Nick Bright and Adrian Clarke will be presenting our popular matchday show, offering all the best build-up for any Gooner!
They’ll have their say on the Boxing Day win against West Ham and look back on the past 12 months, before turning their attention to the final game of 2022.
Then from 5.30pm, they’ll hand over to Dan Roebuck who will be on live commentary duty from the Amex.
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