Arsenal claimed their first set of back-to-back victories in the Premier League with a 2-0 win versus Brighton & Hove Albion at the Emirates Stadium, this afternoon.
A Nacho Monreal opener steered Arsenal into the right direction before Alex Iwobi’s second-half strike eased Arsène Wenger’s men to victory on his 21-year anniversary as manager of the Gunners.
The French boss had to call on the likes of Rob Holding and Iwobi returning to the first team, with Laurent Koscielny out through injury and Mesut Özil deemed unfit.
Alexandre Lacazette looked keen to ensure the absentees wouldn’t be missed, however, as he fired the mood up early with a sweetly-struck half-volley in the 2nd minute that would roar past Brighton shot-stopper Mathew Ryan before kissing the face of the post from range.
With the Seagulls struggling to get out of their own half, the hosts’ next chance to break the deadlock early would fall to Iwobi from the left-hand side of the area, but the young Nigerian’s strike would prove to be too tame to bother Ryan when opening the body.
Arsenal’s early momentum wouldn’t go to waste, however, with Granit Xhaka delivering a dangerous free-kick in the 17th minute that was initially met by Shkodran Mustafi before Shane Duffy’s clearance off the line but eventually stuck away by Monreal on his weaker foot.
Brighton replied through a set-piece of their own, laying off the ball for Solly March to replicate the luck Lacazette had with the woodwork moments earlier, as Lewis Dunk struggled to keep the rebound on target in the 23rd minute.
Ten minutes later, Dunk found himself in all sorts of trouble when being floored by a sloppy pass back to him and hijacked by Lacazette, but the Frenchman, with Alexis Sanchez in support, would opt to go alone in Arsenal’s counter-attack before dispatching a harmless left-footed shot into the keeper’s grasp.
With Brighton also having their moments in attack, the North Londoners continued to pick up opportunities on the break to hurt the newly-promoted side, almost striking gold in the 41st minute through Sead Kolašinac’s byline cross into Ramsey before Ryan’s important save.
A chilled entrance into the second half saw Arsenal add greater relaxation with goal number two in the 56th minute, opened up for Iwobi by Alexis’ intricate back-heeled pass before the academy graduate could thunder a shot past the goalkeeper and into the roof of the net from inside the box.
The Chilean came close to earning a goal for himself in the when cutting in from the left and angling a shot into the far corner, later denied by Dunk’s crucial intervention on the line.
From the subsequent corner, Kolašinac charged through to power a header at goal that would’ve sealed Arsenal’s third had it not been for another Brighton body on the line, this time seeing March head clear in the 62nd minute.
Brighton’s Glenn Murray came very close to setting up a grand-stand-finish when roaming towards the near-post untracked and unleashing a fierce header of his own into the side-netting, as the game drifted through its final ten minutes.
Pascal Groß and Davy Pröpper combined to conjure up one final chance for the visitors, curled wide by the latter before Olivier Giroud came close to amplifying Arsenal’s lead at the other end with an instinctive diving header over the bar, deep into stoppage time.
Two goals would be all that separated both sides at full time, as the Gunners rounded off their pre-international break activities with a victory that sees them move up to 5th place in the Premier League, albeit momentarily.
By Patrick Ribeiro
Petr Čech (5) – Rob Holding (6), Shkodran Mustafi (6), Nacho Monreal (7) – Héctor Bellerín (7), Aaron Ramsey (6), Granit Xhaka (6),Sead Kolašinac (8) – Alex Iwobi (7), Alexis Sanchez (8) – Alexandre Lacazette (6)
Subs: Olivier Giroud (5), Theo Walcott (5), Mohamed Elneny (N/A)