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Arsenal vs. Brighton: Gunners ‘odds-on favourites’ to sink Seagulls

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Arsenal entertain Brighton & Hove Albion on Thursday evening at 20:15 (GMT), in what will be the last of this week’s bumper batch of midweek matches broadcast live on Amazon Prime for the first time.

The hosts are yet to announce a permanent replacement for Unai Emery, who was sacked last week, with former player Freddie Ljungberg remaining as interim manager for the time being.

The Swede revealed in his press conference that he would like to speak to Emery’s predecessor and his former manager, Arséne Wenger, for advice in the role:

“I would really like to speak to him,” he admitted.

“I’m in contact with him but I haven’t spoken to him because it’s been a bit hectic, but it’s on my list to do so.”

In his first game in charge on Sunday, Ljungberg led his side to a creditable 2-2 draw at Norwich City, but he will be fully expected to back that up with a win in front of a demanding set of home fans against a side fifth from bottom.

16th place in the Premier League table does not tell the whole story for Graham Potter’s boys from the south coast, however.

Having only replaced Chris Hughton as Brighton manager in the summer, the former Swansea boss has already been rewarded with a two-year extension on his contract until 2025 such has been the positive impact he has made at the club.

Brighton were comfortably the lowest scoring of the surviving Premier League sides last campaign, but Potter has managed to immediately implement more of a possession-based style and has duly been rewarded with a healthier tally of 16 goals in 14 games.

Their newly discovered ability to impose themselves on even the biggest sides was on full display at the weekend, having given the current runaway league leaders and European champions a serious scare in the closing stages of their 2-1 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield.

And that impressive performance may in part explain why the bookmakers are not offering huge odds for an upset at the Emirates, which would take the visitors just a point behind the hosts in the table.

Arsenal are still favourites, of course, but not as short as you may expect at 4/6.

The draw is 16/5, with a Brighton win 4/1.

Moreover, Arsenal have uncharacteristically struggled at home of late, having drawn to Crystal Palace, Wolves and Southampton in their last three home league games.

Arsenal fans will also have painful memories of this fixture after a 1-1 draw in May ended their hopes of Champions League qualification.

However, those frustrating score draws were all under Emery’s creaking stewardship, and there was a clear improvement in performance – if not necessarily concentration and organisation levels in defence – at Carrow Road on Sunday.

For all of Brighton’s improvement, meanwhile, they have failed to record an away league win since impressively dispatching Watford 3-0 on the first day of the season, picking up just one point in six games on their travels since.

Potter has admitted he expects a ‘difficult’ game:

“They’re still a top club with high-quality footballers and they will be looking for a positive reaction,” he said.

“Freddie Ljungberg is in charge and knows the game well, so we’re expecting another difficult contest.”

There may even be a slice of value in the Arsenal win, then.

But if a straight-up Arsenal win is still too short for your taste buds, 15/8 on an Arsenal win with both teams to score looks a tempting price.

The Gunners have kept just two clean sheets in 14 games all season, while the visiting Seagulls have scored in defeat at Villa Park, Old Trafford and Anfield in their last three away games.

As far as individual players go, Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is 9/2 to bag back-to-back braces after scoring twice against Norwich.

 

 

I'm a freelance sports journalist who has worked for Goal & Bleacher Report amongst others. Get in touch, you're more than welcome to do so via Twitter.  

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