By Bulldog Drummond
Brighton’s season has been somewhat erratic not helped by having three players sent off in seven days of playing football. This might well be having an impact on them – the manager telling the players to reign in some of the aggro.
Looking at their performances through the season we find these rather interesting patterns…
From 25 August to 29 September they played six games – five in the league and once in the league cup (against Southampton). They lost four and drew two.
Then starting on 5 October they won three in a row, two at home and one away. Unlike the earlier games which had 22 goals in six games (3.7 goals a game), these three winning games contained just three goals (1.0 goals per game, obviously).
Next came two defeats away from home in the League, followed by a draw and two wins, and most recently three defeats.
These last three defeats on 8th, 16th and 22nd of December are interesting (all three are in the Premier League)…
|08 Dec 2018||Burnley v Brighton and Hove||L||1-0|
|16 Dec 2018||Brighton and Hove v Chelsea||L||1-2|
|22 Dec 2018||Bournemouth v Brighton and Hove||L||2-0|
One goal to Brighton in three games (against Chelsea) and defeats to Burnley (!!!) and Bournemouth. Maybe they don’t like teams that begin with B.
Of course Arsenal’s most recent adventures do not make particularly wonderful reading, although the last game showed an improvement, not least in finding a way to beat a team that used every trick in the book and some which aren’t.
|16 Dec 2018||Southampton v Arsenal||L||3-2||Premier League|
|19 Dec 2018||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||L||0-2||League Cup|
|22 Dec 2018||Arsenal v Burnley||W||3-1||Premier League|
And we still are scoring goals.
Last season Arsenal lost away to Brighton at the end of a very depressing run of four games…
|22 Feb 2018||Arsenal v Östersunds FK||L||1-2||Europa League|
|25 Feb 2018||Arsenal v Manchester City||L||0-3||League Cup|
|01 Mar 2018||Arsenal v Manchester City||L||0-3||Premier League|
|04 Mar 2018||Brighton and Hove v Arsenal||L||2-1||Premier League|
… and that was a concern for those of us who looked ahead to the Xmas games before the Burnley match. A defeat at home could have made this game look very dodgy, but I think that win against the team that infamously never gets a penalty could well have put us back on track.
As for Brighton, given the number of sendings off that Brighton get it is no surprise to find one player returning after a three game ban (defender Shane Duffy) while another one starts a suspension (Lewis Dunk).
We now know that Henrikh Mkhitaryan is out for around six weeks with a broken foot. Nacho Monreal and Shkodran Mustafi remain doubts for this game. Hector Bellerin, Danny Welbeck, Rob Holding, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Emile Smith Rowe are all injured.
When it comes to selecting the team the norm at this time of year is to give some players a rest on the bench for certain games which of course makes the team selection even more difficult than normal.
But Mr Emery is certainly getting the hang of talking to the media, saying stuff but not giving anything much away. For this game he said, “Brighton is the same, a very tough match physically, very organised and, like with Burnley, a very good coach who is working very well.
“It is a challenge and I respect those teams a lot because they also have good players. They decide to do a line-up with physical players with a lot of crosses for the strikers for heading in our box. We need to defend very far in our box to defend better against that.”
Brighton will be aware that they have not lost four games in a row in the top tier of football since the early 1980s, and they will probably be encouraged by the fact that they have only lost two at home this season. On the other hand they have drawn four and won five, and I suspect they’d feel a draw was a job well done against Arsenal, the team with the league’s top scorer. Not least because their home defeats usually come against teams from the current top six in the League.
And there is another little oddity: Brighton don’t win on Boxing Day… at least they have not done so since 2005 when they beat the mighty QPR.
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