Arsenal show no sign of faltering as Brighton win adds to title belief

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

When Mikel Arteta makes his New Year’s resolutions, he will simply be asking for more of the same from Arsenal in 2023.

His side said goodbye to 2022 in style, beating Brighton 4-2 to finish the year seven points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.

Few people, perhaps even Arteta himself, could have imaged 12 months ago that Arsenal would be in this position.

But there can be no denying that the Gunners are genuine title contenders.

If they keep doing what they are doing, then 2023 could be the year Arsenal win the Premier League for the first time since 2004.

The omens are good. In nine of the last 13 seasons the team top of the table on New Year’s Day has gone on to be crowned champions.

There is, of course, still a long way to go but this victory at Brighton was a reminder of why Arsenal will take some stopping.

Brighton have been a bogey team for Arteta and Arsenal. Until this win, they had won just one of their past five Premier League trips here.

A record like that made you think this would be a tough assignment for Arsenal, but Bukayo Saka’s goal after just 66 seconds was the perfect start.

It was a slick goal - Arsenal’s fastest away from home in the Premier League since 2013 - and one that underlined what has been key to the success of the team under Arteta.

Brighton right-back Tariq Lamptey tried to drive the ball out of defence but he was tackled by Thomas Partey.

Arsenal quickly pounced, with Oleksandr Zinchenko spraying the ball out left to Gabriel Martinelli. The Brazilian’s shot was blocked but Saka was there to tap home.

That ability to press and win the ball high has made Arsenal so dangerous away from home.

Defensively they were suspect at times here, with William Saliba looking particularly rusty after barely playing for France at the World Cup.

But going forward Arsenal were at times unstoppable.

Martin Odegaard was at the heart of Arsenal’s good attacking play and his fingerprints were all over their goals.

The Norwegian scored the second with a good strike from the edge of the box, but his biggest moment came when he created the fourth.

Arsenal should have been home and dry by then, with Eddie Nketiah scoring their third shortly after the start of the second half.

Karou Mitoma had given Brighton hope, though, when he scored in the 65th minute and it was left to Odegaard to silence the Amex.

He did that with an exquisite pass, hit first time, that found Martinelli wide out left and allowed him to race clear and score.

It put Arsenal 4-1 up and even a goal from Evan Ferguson, and a disallowed strike by Mitoma, could not shake Arsenal as they claimed another vial three points thanks to their brilliant attack.

But even with seven goals in their last two games since the Premier League resumed after the World Cup, Arsenal want to add more firepower to their squad.

Their top target is Shakhtar Donetsk winger Mykhaylo Mudryk, who once again posting on social media to show the world he was watching Arsenal beat Brighton.

Who can blame him for wanting to join Arsenal’s title charge, although on this evidence he would face a fight to get in the team.