|Fox in the box! Eddy Nketiah pounces on a loose ball to make it three for Arsenal on their way to a 4-2 win at Brighton on New Year's Eve. (Photo credit: Sky Sports)|
It’s a perfect new year’s gift to Arsenal fans and wherever they are under the sun, they will pinch themselves a good number of times to be sure they’re not in dreamland after going seven clear on the table on New Year’s Eve.
Mikel Arteta made one change to the Arsenal lineup that beat Westham on Boxing Day with Alex Zinchenko coming in for Kieran Tierney while Antonio Di Zerbi of Brighton had Moses Caicedo and Alex Mac Allister out.
The league leaders had a game of two halves at the Amex. They knew it wouldn’t be easy but their usual electrifying start pegged Brighton back and in less than two minutes, Robert Sanchez was picking the ball from his net after Bukayo Saka’s opener.
Martin Odegaard settled some Arsenal nerves late on in the first half after the Seagulls grew into the game but it went from bad to worse shortly after the restart as Eddy Nketiah pounced on a loose ball in the area to make it three for Arsenal.
Brighton gave a good account of themselves from there on but you can also pin some of that on Mikel Arteta’s substitutions. Kaoru Mitoma beat the offside trap to hand Brighton a lifeline but Odegaard spotted Martinelli in space and the Brazilian wonder-kid made no mistakes to make it 4-1.
A rare William Saliba mix-up in defense handed Brighton a route back as Ferguson got in between the World Cup semifinalist and Aaron Ramsdale to make it 4-2. It became edgy from there on and the old feeling of dropping points from a winning position set in.
Arsenal fan had a scare moments later, Mitoma struck again but replays showed his trailing leg was offside as he pounced to retrieve the ball. Arsenal managed to hold on for a precious win on a ground they have struggled on in recent years.
Arsenal now sits seven clear of Manchester City who dropped points at home to Everton earlier in the day and nine clear of Newcastle. Up next for the Gunners is the visit of the Magpies to the Emirates, another test awaits Mikel Arteta’s Gunners.