- Arsenal 3 points back of Spurs with inferior GD
- Aubameyang scores 20th PL goal this season (9′)
- Murray nets career goal 200 to draw level (61′)
Arsenal, much like Manchester United before them, couldn’t hold onto an early lead and ultimately dealt their own top-four dreams a fatal blow by drawing a bottom-four side on Sunday.
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1-0 up on 17th-place Brighton & Hove Albion after nine minutes, Unai Emery‘s Gunners failed to put the game away with a second goal and let the Seagulls back into the game. As such, Arsenal (67 points) trail fourth-place Tottenham Hotspur by three points with just one game left to play. The problem for Arsenal: their goal differential (+20) is eight goals worse than that of Tottenham.
For all intents and purposes, they’re set for another season in the Europa League, unless the can win Europe’s “other” competition later this month.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan went inches from firing the Gunners into the lead after 73 seconds, but the Armenian’s shot from the edge of the penalty area smashed the front side of the post and squirted across the face of goal in agonizing fashion.
It didn’t take much longer for Arsenal to jump out in front, though. Nacho Monreal was tripped inside Brighton’s 18-yard box, which sent Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to the penalty spot where he bagged his 20th PL goal of the season.
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Shkodran Mustafi very nearly made it 2-0 with a diving header in the 36th minute, but Mathew Ryan leapt into action, and across his goal, to make a spectacular save at a full-stretch. Ryan made an even better stop to deny Aubameyang two minutes later. A cross came in front the left side and found Aubameyang near the penalty spot. He swept his left foot through the ball and sent it toward Ryan’s right-hand post, but the goalkeeper sprang to life once again and pushed the ball just around the post.
Brighton drew level hugely against the run of play. Granit Xhaka needlessly dragged down Solly March who had made a dangerous, but containable, run inside the box. Glenn Murray stepped up and converted to reach the 200-goal mark in his 15-year professional career.
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Arsenal’s best chance to win it saw Aubameyang smash the ball just inches wide of the post in the 74th minute. With much of the left side of the goal at his mercy, the Gabonese goalscorer couldn’t keep the ball on frame when he leapt into the air struck a volley with great power.
Brighton had two chances to steal all three points in the 84th minute, but March’s header was saved by Bernd Leno at point-blank range, then Pascal Gross wasn’t able to put his follow-up effort on target. The near post was wide open and required just a bit of composure to touch the ball home.
Arsenal will visit Burnley on the final day of the season, next Sunday, while Spurs will host Everton.