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Five things learned as Gunners’ top four hopes take another hit

by rks2008

Arsenal were beaten 2-1 by Brighton to put a huge dent in their top four hopes on Saturday.

Graham Potter’s side hadn’t won in their previous seven matches before heading to the Emirates.

five things we learned from the match in north London.

Xhaka not a left-back
Arteta chose not to back Nuno Tavares following his poor performance at Crystal Palace. He instead put Granit Xhaka at left-back in the Portuguese star’s absence.

However, it was clear from the start that the Swiss did not look comfortable out of position. Arteta could have put Saka at left-back if he did not think Tavares was up to the task.

He realised he had made the wrong decision at half-time, putting Xhaka into midfield and Gabriel Martinelli in a wing-back role. Arsenal were better in the second half but it was a waste to start like he did.

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Lacazette must go
After a recent run of seven assists in nine games, Alexandre Lacazette now looks increasingly ineffective. The Frenchman has now gone over 19 hours without scoring a goal from open play.

Arsenal are mulling over whether to give Lacazette a new contract, with his current deal up in the summer. But the two games this week show a decision doesn’t need to be made.

Lacazette has never been prolific since his arrival from Lyon in 2017. But Arsenal are desperate for improvement up top and it is time they moved on from their skipper.

Crowd restless
Understandably, the result did not go down well with Arsenal supporters. But the fans were getting restless even before Brighton had opened the scoring.

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Trossard’s strike saw the murmurings of discontent rise around the stadium. Some fans are still 50-50 over whether Arteta is the right man to lead the club forward.

Back-to-back defeats are never good for a manager’s cause. But the way Arsenal have lost, and the fact Brighton hadn’t won for so long, has not done Arteta any favours.

Squad depth lacking
Arsenal didn’t recruit in January and it is starting to show. The injuries to Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey, as well as the continued absence of Takehiro Tomiyasu, has really shown up the lack of depth at the Emirates.

Youngsters Miguel Azeez, Omari Hutchinson and Zak Swanson were all on the bench for this one. Arteta did not have to call on the academy graduates.

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However, the most recent injuries show how the level drops off once Arteta does not have his top 12 or 13 players available. It could ultimately cost them a top-four spot.

VAR not cut and dry
The decision to disallow Martinelli’s goal took over three minutes for VAR to decide upon. It was not clear if Marc Cucurella had played Martinelli onside.

Ultimately, the correct decision may have been made. But it was not clear and caused plenty of debate across social media.

An offside decision really shouldn’t have taken as long as this did. Arsenal only have themselves to blame for their performance though.

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