Mikel Arteta has called upon his forwards to “show the consistency” needed for them to continue to mount their Premier League title challenge, ahead of their trip to Brighton and Hove Albion.
The Gunners sit at the summit under the Spaniard, as they continue to lead the race for silverware ahead of champions Manchester City, with their position further bolstered by a Boxing Day win over West Ham.
In the absence of star forward Gabriel Jesus, all three members of Arsenal’s offensive line – Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah – scored to ensure a comfortable 3-1 result for Arteta.
But the manager is not getting carried away yet, and wants to see his players showcase their skills with repeat performances, in particular Nketiah, over the coming weeks.
“It’s just one game,” he said. They have to show the consistency and the capacity to do that every three days. That’s what we need from the players. Obviously we had a big blow with Gabi, and not having him had a big impact on the team.
“We always said Eddie had the quality and he just needed the opportunity to show that. We are really happy with where we are, but as I always said, there are a lot of things we can still do better and improve.”
Opposite number Roberto De Zebri, meanwhile, is preparing to deal with a nervy transfer window, with freshly minted World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister likely to be the subject of bids alongside Moses Caicedo.
The Seagulls boss hopes to keep hold of his contingent, but says his focus is on the Gunners.
“I would like to keep all our players here, and I would like to add some too,” De Zebri said. “My hope is that Caicedo and Mac Allister will stay. But at the moment I only think about Arsenal. It will be very difficult.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Brighton & Hove – Danny Welbeck
The Seagulls forward has scored four goals in his last five games against Arsenal in all competitions, in a run stretching back to Man United’s 8-2 win over the Gunners in August 2011. He’s also netted against them this season, doing so in the Seagulls’ 3-1 win in the League Cup in November.
Arsenal – Martin Odegaard
The Norway man is the Gunners’ highest scorer away from home this term with four, with two braces against Bournemouth and Wolves. Only Ian Wright, Dennis Bergkamp, Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin van Persie and Alexis Sanchez have scored multiple goals in three away games for a season.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Brighton & Hove have lost just one of their five Premier League home games against Arsenal (W2 D2), a 1-0 loss in December 2020.
– Brighton are one of just three teams that Arsenal have lost (4) more Premier League games than they’ve won (3) against, along with Manchester United (W17 L26) and Liverpool (W17 L25).
– Brighton beat Arsenal 3-1 in the League Cup in November this season – only once have they beaten the Gunners twice in the same campaign, winning both Premier League meetings in 2019-20. Indeed, victory here would also be the first time they’ve ever won three in a row against Arsenal in all competitions.
– 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 Arsenal in their final game of 2020.
– Arsenal have won just two of their last seven league games played on New Year’s Eve (D3 L2), beating Aston Villa 3-0 in 1988 and Queens Park Rangers 1-0 in 2011.