Arsenal Brighton
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05: Mesut Ozil of Arsenal and Granit Xhaka of Arsenal are looking dejected after Neal Maupay of Brighton scored during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Brighton & Hove Albion at Emirates Stadium on December 05, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Arsenal failed to win for the ninth consecutive match across all competitions on Thursday against Brighton & Hove Albion. Once again the cause of the capitulation was disunity within the squad. Unlike in previous weeks, however, the manager cannot be made the culprit and the latest failure makes the deeper issues at the club very apparent.

Arsenal Lose to Brighton: Analysis

Tension and Confusion

Arsenal did start the match against Brighton decently enough. For the first twenty minutes or so they put the visitors on the back foot for stretches and even seemed the likeliest to score.

The Gunners didn’t, of course, thanks in no small part to four offside calls. The players clearly wanted to get a grip on the game early but they just weren’t on the same wave length. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang venting frustration at Joe Willock showed this very clearly.

After this opening salvo from the Gunners, the Seagulls took control of the match. While Arsenal were disjointed and began to struggle to string passes together, Brighton stayed organised and united in both attack and defence.

The first goal wasn’t so much a result of this fact as it was due to poor defending. However, it certainly deepened the trouble for the home side. Arsenal struggled to keep Brighton out for the rest of the first half from there and were, in fact, lucky to get to the interval at one-nil down.

The quality of the Gunners’ performance was so bad that the home fans jeered their players at the half time whistle.

Similar Second Half

Ljungberg clearly got his players up for the match during the interval. Arsenal once again began dictating play and putting the Brighton net under threat. However, after a period of time in which the play was buoyed by the goal, the second half followed the same pattern from the first.

As soon as they conceded, Arsenal capitulated. Once that capitulation occurred, they stopped playing as a unit and individual players worked more or less alone to try and turn the tide.

For example, Hector Bellerin tried to go it alone a few times on the right flank and even whipped in a good cross for Aubameyang. However, the lack of clear communication between the players foiled the move.

Kieran Tierney had a similar such moment when he did well to penetrate the final third, beat his man and sent in a cross. Neither move came to anything in the end, save for creating frustration within the squad and the fan base.

Brighton, meanwhile, quietly and efficiently went about their business. Graham Potter’s men stayed organised and compact and simply waited Arsenal out and took their chances when they came.

Crisis Mode

The word crisis has been thrown around a lot in the recent history of Arsenal and after the defeat to Brighton, it has never been more apt. The club are winless in nine matches across all competitions, their worst run since 1977.

Under Unai Emery, the team lacked a clear identity and the same issue is present now that he is gone. There is no tactical idea or plan to fall back on which creates uncertainty. That uncertainty manifests itself in both a lack of clear communication between players as well as frustration for them when the play turns against them.

At least with Emery around there was a scapegoat, but now the club must have a long, hard look at itself. The next head coach will have a huge job and must implement, or help the board implement, a clear identity for fans and players alike to fall back on.

Until then, the poor play will continue on the pitch and the jeers and discontent will only grow in the stands.

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