Enock Mwepu scored a powerful goal and set up Leandro Trossard for another as Brighton and Hove Albion took a shot at Arsenal’s top-four hopes with a 2-1 win at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
Martin Odegaard would bend in a deflected 89th-minute goal to give Arsenal late hope but Mikel Arteta’s men couldn’t find a second goal — or at least one that counted. The Gunners had a Gabriel Martinelli goal taken off the board earlier in the match after what appeared to be an inconclusive and very long VAR review.
And so Arsenal’s 54 points are good for fifth and could be 1-3 points off the top four pace if Tottenham beats Aston Villa. Chelsea won earlier Saturday to seemingly remove third place from the discussion.
Brighton’s 37 points are 13 clear of the bottom three. The Seagulls have seven matches left and are one of eight teams hoping to finish as high as ninth.
Arsenal vs Brighton final score, stats
Arsenal 1, Brighton 2
Scorers: Trossard (28′), Mwepu (66′), Odegaard (89′)
Shot attempts: Arsenal 20, Brighton 8
Shots on goal: Arsenal 4, Brighton 3
Possession: Arsenal 65, Brighton 35
Three things we learned from Arsenal vs Brighton
1. Someone should mark that guy: It wasn’t so much Enock Mwepu laying his low cross on a plate for Leandro Trossard, it’s that Arsenal’s defenders and midfielders were offering the Belgian napkins and dessert. Trossard had somewhere between two seconds and four years to line up a point-blank shot with no one around him and I’m slightly surprised that Aaron Ramsdale didn’t actually explode in anger. After a half-hour, Brighton was in very good shape because Arsenal forgot about theirs.
2. VAR puts its foot in its mouth (for an extended period of time): Gabriel Martinelli appeared to have tied the game just before halftime but a review of more than six minutes that, at least on the American broadcast, was anything but conclusive ended with the goal coming off the score board. There was not a good angle showing that Martinelli was not being kept onside by one of two obscured Brighton players, and we’ll await an explanation from PGMOL or another authority figure because the Gunners appear to have been given a bad break not in the spirit of VAR’s intention.
3. Enock Mwepu!! The 24-year-old Zambian cued up Trossard’s goal with class — though Arsenal’s defenders will try to erase all video footage of the affair — and his goal to make it 2-0 was powerful and precise: Gorgeous stuff. Mwepu was finding his PL footing with three assists in three matches between Boxing Day and Jan. 2, but a hamstring injury cost him two months. This was more like it.
Man of the Match: Enock Mwepu — Odegaard’s goal aside, there’s no question here.