The last time Arsenal went nine matches without a victory, in 1977, Freddie Ljungberg was still a few weeks away from being born. This is not just their worst run in years, but their worst run in decades. It is not all that far from being their worst run in half a century.
Two games into life as interim head coach, Ljungberg is only just beginning to appreciate the scale of the mess of his hands. Fifteen games into a Premier League season, Arsenal are 10 points off the top four and five points off the relegation zone. At this rate, it will not even be entirely churlish to suggest they might get dragged into a battle to avoid the drop.
Once again, the total lack of cohesion between Arsenal’s players was staggering. Brighton, a bright and imaginative side but still Brighton, popped the ball around the pitch with a precision and adventure which Arsenal have not shown for months. Brighton turned up at the Emirates, dominated the game and calmly pocketed three points they fully deserved.
If anything, the 2-1 scoreline was unfair on the visitors, rather than Arsenal. Graham Potter’s side exploited all of those familiar spaces in the Arsenal midfield, playing the better football and creating the better opportunities throughout.
They had lost their last three matches, and 15 of their last 16 away against the so-called ‘big six’ sides, but Brighton looked the bigger side at an Emirates Stadium that once again unleashed furious boos at the final whistle. Not even the lingering love for Ljungberg the player can protect a team that is performing at a level so far below where it should be.
“They looked very short of confidence,” said Ljungberg of his players. “We did not show up in the first half. We were very passive, we did not move. They were very scared to get the ball, very scared to move and they were just standing still. We need to just dig out a win and get some confidence.”
Adam Webster and Neal Maupay did the damage for Brighton, scoring either side of an Alexandre Lacazette header, to trigger yet more questions for Arsenal. What does Ljungberg do from here? Where do they go now? Which manager would want to take over this squad?
The players themselves seem lost for answers. “I don’t know what to say,” said Hector Bellerin. “I have the feeling that whatever we do, it doesn't come out right.”
Arsenal's longest winless run since 1977. No shape, no control, no balance. Arsenal were outshot by 20 to 12, at home to Brighton. They were outpassed too, 412 to 387.— Sam Dean (@SamJDean) December 5, 2019
Brighton, by contrast, were doing everything right. Their dominance of possession was testament to the work done by Potter since he took over this summer, even if good results have not always followed their total change of philosophy.
To outpass and outplay Arsenal at the Emirates is proof of their quality as a footballing team, with Davy Propper and Aaron Mooy in control of the midfield. “It is nice to get a reward for how we are playing,” said Potter. “We did not park the bus. We pressed high, played through from the back. We showed enough quality and character.”
For the first 20 minutes, Brighton were tentative as they tested the water. Like a boxer finding his range, they then realised that their opponents were as vulnerable as a side like Arsenal can ever be. Brighton started to swing some punches and Arsenal could barely cope.
Lewis Dunk, Aaron Connolly, Propper and Maupay all had efforts in the minutes before Webster’s opener, which was smashed into the corner after Arsenal had been unable to clear a set piece.
Arsenal needed urgency and quality in response, and they found it in the first few minutes of the second half thanks to the introduction of Nicolas Pepe. The club-record signing’s added thrust led to Arsenal’s only spell of dominance, with Lacazette soon flicking Mesut Ozil’s corner into the net.
“I was sure we were going to win the game,” said Ljungberg of that second-half blitz. He was so agitated in the build-up to the goal, so desperate to force some life into his team, that he tripped over in his rush to get the ball back in play.
But Brighton kept surging forward through the gaps. Aaron Mooy had time to float his cross towards Maupay, whose header was accurate and firm. Ten minutes remained, but the lack of faith from this crowd, in this team, was reflected by the empty seats appearing all over the Emirates. Those who remained made clear that what they had seen was unacceptable.
The streak continues
There are boos around the Emirates and some furious faces among the Arsenal players. Something is going very, very wrong at the moment. Nine games without a win.
Arsenal 1 Brighton 2
90+3 min - Arsenal 1 Brighton 2
Almost a third for Brighton as Xhaka is caught on the ball near his goal and Trossard fires his shot over the bar. That might be that for this game.
90+2 min - Arsenal 1 Brighton 2
Arsenal cannot find a sight of goal.
90+1 min - Arsenal 1 Brighton 2
Job almost done for Brighton.
90 min - Arsenal 1 Brighton 2
... Pepe will take it. But his soft effort brushes the wall on the way past the post and the corner comes to nothing. Four added minutes to play.
89 min - Arsenal 1 Brighton 2
Brighton make a change before the Arsenal corner is taken with Duffy on in place of Alzate (which means Brighton effectively have four centre-backs on the pitch now including right-back Burn). The corner is headed clear but Pepe then wins a soft free-kick from Trossard in a perfect spot 25 yards from goal...
87 min - Arsenal 1 Brighton 2
Great save from Ryan! Tierney delivers an excellent cross from the left, which Martinelli nods towards the far post and Ryan dives at full stretch to turn behind for a corner.
85 min - Arsenal 1 Brighton 2
Brighton are dropping deeper, but Arsenal have not been able to create anything so far.
83 min - Arsenal 1 Brighton 2
It's gone deathly quiet at the Emirates again.
82 min - Arsenal 1 Brighton 2
It looks like Arsenal's winless streak is going to continue...
GOAL! Arsenal 1 Brighton 2 (Maupay)
Brighton are ahead again! And it's way too simple. Mooy is the provider, checking onto his right foot on the left wing and crossing for Maupay to guide a brilliant glancing header into the far post. A great header, but terrible marking from the Arsenal defence.
79 min - Arsenal 1 Brighton 1
Brighton are starting to threaten again. And time for another sub: Trossard for Gross.
78 min - Arsenal 1 Brighton 1
LOL at this. Not sure why they aren't just giving it to Pepe and telling him to run at Burn.
Have to admire Arsenal's willingness to continue trying to switch the ball over the head of 6ft 6in left-back Dan Burn. You won't believe it but Burn keeps heading the ball away.— Sam Dean (@SamJDean) December 5, 2019
76 min - Arsenal 1 Brighton 1
Arsenal's goalscorer Lacazette trundles off to be replaced by Martinelli.
75 min - Arsenal 1 Brighton 1
Mooy runs and runs and runs doesn't he? Not lacking in any work rate. Connolly is replaced by Montoya, which appears a defensive move from Brighton who see a corner leathered clear after a spot of pinball inside the Arsenal penalty area.
72 min - Arsenal 1 Brighton 1
That's the end of Kolasinac's game - and a fine one it has been - to be replaced by Tierney.
69 min - Arsenal 1 Brighton 1
Oof, Ozil crashes a bouncing ball wide from 20 yards after some decent work from Lacazette down the left.
68 min - Arsenal 1 Brighton 1
I tell you something for nothing: Arsenal are a changed side this half. Now Aubameyang is set free, only for Alzate to hare back and block the shot. They look susceptible on the break, but they also look like they could score at any moment. There are goals in this game.
Meanwhile, Luiz takes a yellow card for the team with a foul to prevent a Brighton break.
DISALLOWED GOAL! Arsenal 1 Brighton 1 (Luiz)
Ozil whips in a free-kick from the right and Luiz is totally unmarked before he nods in. But there's a reason why he found it all so easy... he (along with a few other Arsenal players) was miles offside. Not sure how that wasn't spotted by the linesman and required VAR to overturn the goal.
62 min - Arsenal 1 Brighton 1
Arsenal look so stretched when Brighton are on the attack and suddenly the visitors are in again. Alzate lifts a lovely cross from the right, Mooy nods it goalwards and Maupay is just about to turn it in before Leno flings himself at the ball to punch it behind. That was very close to another Brighton goal.
Mad how every minute of an Arsenal game feels like the last minute. So much space in midfield, players trudging back towards their own half like wounded soldiers.— Sam Dean (@SamJDean) December 5, 2019
60 min - Arsenal 1 Brighton 1
Yellow card for Gross for deliberate handball high up the pitch to stop an Arsenal counter.
58 min - Arsenal 1 Brighton 1
Arsenal's left-back has been one of their most dangerous players tonight.
What has Freddie done to Kolasinac? Best performance since he smashed those muggers— Callum (@caln19_) December 5, 2019
56 min - Arsenal 1 Brighton 1
Gosh, there are Arsenal goals coming. This time Aubameyang is inches away from getting on the end of a Kolasinac cross.
55 min - Arsenal 1 Brighton 1
This looks like a totally different Arsenal side in this second half and it seems Pepe has been told to have some fun with Burn down the right. Bellerin does superbly to win the ball a cracking slide tackle inside the Brighton penalty area and he fizzes in a fine cross, which evades everyone.
53 min - Arsenal 1 Brighton 1
Down the other end go Brighton on the break and Connolly, head down, charges towards goal before opting to shoot when Mooy was the correct option unmarked to his left. The visitors get a corner from his efforts but they cannot do anything with it.
GOAL! Arsenal 1 Brighton 1 (Lacazette)
Well, that didn't take long to turn around after the break. Ozil whips in a fine corner, Lacazette wins the header at the near post and it loops all the way into the goal in the far corner where Kolasinac was busy bearing down on Brighton keeper and defender without getting any touch.
48 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 1
Pepe is again involved from the corner, before a heavy Torreira touch sees him lose the ball just as he's about to shoot from the edge of the box. Better already from the hosts.
47 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 1
Pepe has gone over the right flank, with Ozil moving into Willock's position behind Lacazette. "They can't get much worse than that first half," says Alan Shearer on commentary. But it is only 1-0 and Pepe is straight into the action exchanging a neat one-two with Ozil to win Arsenal a corner.
46 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 1
No surprise to see Arsenal make a half-time change with club-record signing Pepe on in place of Willock. Can he make any impact?
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette exchanged just one pass in the first half against Brighton.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 5, 2019
The Emirates Stadium is not a happy place right now. That has been largely terrible from Arsenal, who started brightly and faded away shockingly. Ljungberg has some serious work to do. They will have to come from behind yet again.
9 - Only Norwich (10) have conceded the first goal in more Premier League games than Arsenal (9) this season. Trailers. #ARSBHA— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 5, 2019
45+1 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 1
A late yellow card for Sokratis for a foul on Connolly. One final chance for Brighton? Nope, Gross' cross is headed clear, the whistle goes and boos ring around the Emirates.
45 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 1
No penalty! Lacazette crashes theatrically to the ground under pressure in the box, but the referee waves away his appeals. Lacazette and Aubameyang then have a right to-and-fro as a pass goes astray.
43 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 1
Arsenal are being torn apart again. Connolly only has to find Maupay for a clear shot on goal inside the penalty area, but his pass is poor and a returning defender is able to intercept just in the nick of time. The Emirates is seriously quiet.
41 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 1
Finally, Arsenal show something. Auba picks the ball up on the right, shows some lovely skill and dinks in a beautiful cross, which Willock should probably score on the edge of the six-yard box but his header is saved by Ryan's feet. Auba v Burn is a total mismatch if Arsenal can exploit it.
38 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 1
Arsenal are the metropolitan elite and Brighton are getting football done.— Tom Rosenthal (@rosentweets) December 5, 2019
37 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 1
What have you got Ljungberg? Your team are capitulating.
GOAL! Arsenal 0 Brighton 1 (Webster)
Well, it had been coming for some time. A Brighton corner is well won by Burn, Connolly then chests it down and Webster lashes in from 10 yards out. Fully deserved for the visitors.
35 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 0
Arsenal haven't won a second ball or a tackle in about 10 minutes. They appear to be visibly falling apart.
34 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 0
Brighton have bossed these last 15 minutes or so and Leno is forced to save at full stretch from a decent long-range Maupay strike. Moments later, the Arsenal keeper is again called into action to hold onto a Propper shot. There is some serious unhappiness audible in the stands. The players are moaning at each other and the crowd are on their back.
32 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 0
"It's pretty dull at this moment in time," is Alan Shearer's verdict on commentary. Despite his decision to use eight words when just the first three would suffice, I do agree with him.
30 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 0
This is rubbish from Arsenal. They keep getting caught on the ball and are just so ponderous.
28 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 0
"Shoooooooooot," is the roar when first Xhaka and then Torreira have the ball about 25 yards from the Brighton goal. Neither manage to do so, but the fall finds its way to Aubameyang, whose effort dribbles past the far post.
26 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 0
A threatening period here from Brighton. Now Connolly drives dangerously at the Arsenal defence, who are forced to bundle the ball behind yet another corner. It is eventually worked in by Mooy where Maupay thrashes it across the face of goal from the far post and Connolly is inches away from tapping into an empty net but cannot quite reach it.
24 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 0
Another Brighton corner is met by Webster, but his header requires only a routine save from Leno.
Our man Sam Dean is at the Emirates:
Pretty even first 20 minutes at the Emirates. Shows how much has changed with these two teams that Brighton have had 57% of possession and have played 126 passes to Arsenal's 89. Weird.— Sam Dean (@SamJDean) December 5, 2019
22 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 0
... Gross opts for power from the free-kick, but the result is the ball thundering straight into the wall and away to safety.
21 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 0
My word that is close to a Brighton penalty! Bellerin hauls Connolly down right on the edge of the Arsenal box - it's a clear foul and Bellerin receives a yellow card for his troubles. But the verdict is free-kick because the offence began about 10 inches outside the penalty area. This set piece could barely be any closer to the goal...
18 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 0
Better from Arsenal with Kolasinac the provider from deep down the left and Ozil finds some space in behind... but he does so at the expense of legality and is ruled offside. Down the other end Leno holds on comfortably to a long-range Connolly strike.
15 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 0
Connolly and Maupay are defending from the front for Brighton, which at least is forcing Arsenal a bit deeper than the home side would like. Not a lot happening for either side right now.
11 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 0
This game is almost wholly being played in the Brighton half.
10 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 0
Ozil seems to be playing in all manner of different positions today. This time he appears in his nominal left midfield position and delivers long to win a corner off SIX-FOOT SEVEN-INCH left-back Burn. That first corner is bundled away by Brighton for a second, which ends up with a fairly harmless low drive from Luiz.
7 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 0
Now Brighton have a corner, which Xhaka heads clear at the near post and Mooy's secondary cross is marginally too long.
4 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 0
It's nowhere near full for this first match in charge at the Emirates for Ljungberg. Arsenal have definitely started the brighter of the two sides though and Bellerin makes good ground up the right flank to win a corner, which is hooked away by Maupay.
2 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 0
Neat work from Arsenal in these early stages as Lacazette finds space in the Brighton penalty area and looks to thread in Aubameyang, but Dunk cuts the ball out just in the nick of time.
1 min - Arsenal 0 Brighton 0
Lacazette gets the match underway and Leno is called into action immediately to hare off his line and sweep up from a long Brighton hoof.
The formalities are complete. Arsenal in red. Brighton in black. Let's do this.
Who comes next?
One more final piece of Arsenal pre-reading (sorry Brighton fans): Arsenal step up search for new manager, focusing on candidates who are currently available
Have a quick read because it's almost game time.
Some more exclusive breaking news for you courtesy of our man John Percy and this time it relates to Arsenal: Leicester have opened talks with Brendan Rodgers over a lucrative new contract in a bid to kill off his links with a potential move to Arsenal. Here's a snippet:
Arsenal are understood to have considered Rodgers as a prime candidate to replace Unai Emery, who was sacked last week, but Leicester are now putting the finishing touches to a new deal for the Northern Irishman.
Look who's (potentially) back
Briefly stepping away from this match, I bring you news that Marco Silva has been sacked as Everton manager and David Moyes is favourite to return to Goodison Park. You can read all about that here.
Reason to be positive (for Arsenal fans)
2 – Arsenal have only failed to score in two of their last 59 home league games, with both of those games coming against Manchester City (March and August 2018). Reliable. #ARSBHA— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 5, 2019
Brighton have also changed things slightly from their defeat at Anfield on Saturday with Maupay and Alzate returning to the starting XI. Brazilian defender Bernardo, who has been out for three months with a knee injury, is on the bench.
This, courtesy of our man Sam Dean, is what Ljungberg has decided to do tonight:
Guendouzi, Mustafi and Chambers out for #AFC. Bellerin, Torreira and Sokratis back in.— Sam Dean (@SamJDean) December 5, 2019
Your teams are in...
History in the making?
Big one for Arsenal tonight. Not since 1977 have they gone nine matches without a win.— Sam Dean (@SamJDean) December 5, 2019
The good news for them is that Brighton have lost 15 of 16 away PL matches against the big six. The bad news is that their one draw was against #AFC.
Good evening and welcome to the final night of the Premier League's first Amazon Prime bonanza. You are probably here because you haven't paid your £7.99 per month to subscribe to their service. Or perhaps you have done and you're dual-screening it. Whatever brings you here: hello.
Tonight sees Freddie Ljungberg's Arsenal host Graham Potter's Brighton and Hove Albion at the Emirates Stadium. On paper, it should prove a simple enough task for the hosts. But things aren't quite going to plan.
Ljungberg's first match at the (temporary) helm on Sunday saw the familiar problem of Arsenal's defensive frailties emerge in a 2-2 draw at Norwich. Having only been in charge for two days at that point, he hadn't had much time to put his stamp on things. Whether he can fix Arsenal's vulnerability at the back just a few days on is doubtful.
It will be interesting to see who he opts for in his starting XI tonight, having raised eyebrows with his team selection on Sunday. Arsenal's last Premier League victory came almost two months ago in a 1-0 win against Bournemouth and they are winless in eight games in all competitions.
Brighton are also struggling somewhat, although their travails are to be more expected. Having faced Liverpool, Leicester City and Manchester United in their last three Premier League games, tonight's match continues a pretty hellish run for Potter's side. If they can get anything out of this one it will be an achievement after three successive defeats.
This one kicks off in a chilly north London at 8.15pm.