Brighton and Hove Albion 2-4 Arsenal: Ruthless Gunners go seven points clear

    Bukayo Saka scored just 66 seconds after the ruthless Arsenal beat Brighton & Hove Albion 4-2 and were seven points clear of the Premier League leaders.

    Draws against Manchester City and Newcastle United earlier on New Year’s Eve gave the Gunners a chance to extend their lead at the top.

    Mikel Arteta’s team ended 2022 in style at the Amex Stadium, with Saka putting them on the path early and Martin Odegaard scoring the second goal in the first half.

    Eddy Nketiya scored three goals for them early in the second half, while Gabriel Martinelli stepped in after Kaoru Mitoma pulled back one goal.

    Evan Ferguson’s first Premier League goal was too small, too late, as the leaders extended their winning streak to five top division games despite a late rally from Brighton that saw Mitoma rule out a goal.

    Saka put Arsenal on a dream start with a great touch and then a calm finish with his left foot from the box after Martinelli’s shot deflected in his path.

    Ødegaard doubled the Gunners’ lead six minutes before half-time with a left foot into the ground and into the net as Brighton failed to clear Saki’s corner.

    The Seagulls were trapped again less than two minutes into the second half when Robert Sanchez parried Martinelli’s shot from a tight angle, but a vigilant Nketiah was ready to strike from close range.

    Mitoma closed the gap with a neat right-footed shot after he was caught by a skillful back pass from Pascal Gross in the 64th minute, but Martinelli restored Arsenal’s three-goal lead six minutes later.

    Odegaard was the architect, setting up the winger with a superb first pass and Martinelli ran away before poking the ball under Sanchez with his right foot.

    Ferguson took advantage of William Saliba’s poor defense to tackle and score Brighton’s second goal, and Mitoma denied a brace when he found the back of the net only for a VAR check to show he was offside as Arsenal held on.

    What does this mean? Artillerymen continue to fire after the opponents miss

    Manchester City’s 1-1 draw at Everton and a draw between Newcastle and Leeds United have previously allowed the leaders to give themselves a break.

    They made no mistake in giving hope that for the first time since 2004 they could become champions of England.

    Brighton put up a fight in a recreational contest and Arteta wouldn’t have been pleased with some sloppy second-half defense, but no team was seven points behind at the start of the year to become champions.

    Saka keeps on shining

    This season, Saka has scored six goals and provided as many assists in the top flight and has shown his class for England at the World Cup.

    Only Erling Haaland (24), Ivan Tony (15) and Harry Kane (14) have scored more Premier League goals this season than the Gunners’ winger.

    Ode to the skipper of the gunners

    Odegaard was superb in midfield, scoring one goal and setting up Martinelli with a superb run through the defense from his own half.

    The Norway midfielder created three chances, forcing Arsenal to play another important role.

    Opta key features:

    – Arsenal scored in the first two minutes of both halves in the same Premier League match for the first time since December 2013 against Hull City.
    – Saka scored Arsenal’s earliest Premier League away goal since May 2013, when Theo Walcott scored just 20 seconds later against QPR.
    – Odegaard scored 12 goals in the last 13 league games (7 goals, 5 assists). He has scored more top-flight goals this season (12 in 15 appearances) than in the entire 2021–22 season (11 in 36).
    – Nketiah has scored 10 goals in his last 16 appearances for Arsenal in all competitions, scoring in each of his last three appearances for the Gunners.
    – Brighton have lost three of their last five Premier League home games (W1 D1), having gone undefeated in the previous seven matches prior to this series.

    What’s next?

    The Gunners are at home with third-placed Newcastle in their first game of 2023 on Tuesday as Brighton travel to Everton.

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