Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 Arsenal: Maupay and Dunk stun Gunners after Pepe wonder strike

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Neal Maupay was a controversial hero as relegation-threatened Brighton and Hove Albion came from behind to earn a 2-1 win over Arsenal at the Amex Stadium.

Maupay was at the centre of a grim first-half incident, where a coming together with Bernd Leno resulted in the Arsenal goalkeeper suffering a serious-looking knee injury.

Arsenal hit the front through a sumptuous Nicolas Pepe strike in the 68th minute but lackadaisical defending from a short corner worked by Solly March and Yves Bissouma allowed Lewis Dunk to equalise seven minutes later.

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In the fifth minute of stoppage time, Maupay dummied and darted on to a clever flicked pass from substitute Aaron Connolly to produce a similarly classy finish – moving Albion five points clear of the bottom three and leaving the Gunners' Champions League hopes in tatters.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was unable to hook an early cross from the recalled Pepe on target before Bukayo Saka fired a rasping 20-yarder against the crossbar amid a lively start from the visitors.

Dunk produced a last-ditch tackle to thwart Alexandre Lacazette – who would be similarly denied by Aaron Webster before half-time – and the France striker drew an excellent 31st-minute save from Mat Ryan, with Saka the provider for his improvised diving header.

All concerns were soon with Ryan's opposite number Leno, who was furious with Maupay as he left the field on a stretcher.

Replacement goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez was alert to beat away a close-range Maupay strike at his near post before Ryan continued to enjoy supremacy in his duel with Aubameyang.

The Australia international had no chance when Pepe thrillingly came to the party, but after Dunk capitalised on Arsenal's mindless defending, Ryan kept out a fiercely swerving Aubameyang attempt.

And there was a sting in the tail as Alexis Mac Allister linked in slick fashion with Connolly and Maupay did the rest, before finding himself at the centre of an incensed Arsenal melee that showed scant regard for social distancing at the final whistle.

What does it mean? Arsenal's Champions League return will have to wait

Last week Arteta worried aloud over how his club's Champions League absence will do more damage the longer it goes on. They could be 11 points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with eight games remaining at the end of the weekend. The dream is fading fast.

Saka in tune with Arteta's vision

Wednesday's sound 3-0 beating at Manchester City similarly indicated the tall task facing Arteta at Arsenal. In Saka, though, he has an adaptable and accomplished performer ready to play a prominent role in whatever the future holds. The 18-year-old has been deployed on the wing and at left-back and he excelled on the left of a midfield three here, consistently proving to be the Gunners' most reliable creative outlet before laying on Pepe's opener. While he thrives, other players should be looking at themselves.

Match-winner Maupay takes brunt of Leno's anger

At first glance, there appeared to be nothing malicious in Maupay's fateful challenge on Leno and we should be wary of how much worse slow-motion replays can make these incidents look. But whether it was innocent, petulant or an outright cheap shot, an action that the Brighton forward did not need to make looks like leaving Leno with a long, hard road back to fitness.

Key Opta Facts

- Brighton and Hove Albion secured their first league victory of 2020 (the last Premier League side to do so), while this was also the first time they have done the league double against Arsenal.

- At 94 minutes and 26 seconds, Neal Maupay's winner is the latest Premier League goal Brighton have ever scored.

- Brighton earned their 100th victory in all competitions at the Amex Stadium since moving to the ground in 2011.

- Excluding penalties, only Aston Villa (15) have conceded more goals from set-piece situations than Arsenal this season (13), with Brighton's leveller coming from a corner.

What's next?

Arsenal travel to Southampton on Thursday, with Ralph Hasenhuttl's side buoyed by a 3-0 win over bottom club Norwich City. Two days earlier, Brighton face another tough assignment in their survival battle at Leicester City.

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