Arsenal look to increase Brighton woes and leapfrog Chelsea in Boxing Day battle


Brighton host Arsenal on Boxing Day at the AMEX Stadium with both teams looking to build momentum over the Christmas period.

Brighton will be looking to recover from a 2-0 loss away at Bournemouth and a third straight Premier League loss whilst Arsenal got back on track with a routine 3-1 victory at home to struggling Burnley.

Arsenal have a good record on Boxing Day having only lost one of their last nine. Although that defeat was a heavy one as they were thrashed 4-0 by Southampton in 2015.

The sides have only met twice in the Premier League, both gaining home victories last season. Brighton will be hoping to replicate the 2-1 scoreline again, but will face the Gunners without the suspended Lewis Dunk who scored in that game.

Glenn Murray scored in the 2-1 win over Arsenal at the AMEX last season. Murray has two goals in 125 minutes against the Gunners and will hoping to add to that tally on Wednesday (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

The form of Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang will also be a concern for the Seagulls, the Gabon international is currently top of the goalscoring charts with 12.

Jose Izquierdo (knee) and Alireza Jahanbakhsh (hamstring) will both miss the match at the Falmer Stadium but Chris Hughton does welcome back Shane Duffy, who is expected to replace the suspended Dunk in Wednesday’s starting line-up.

Brighton boss Hughton understands the importance of the Christmas period but understands the challenge of Arsenal and then Everton will be far from easy.

“This busy period gives us a good opportunity to pick up points – but we never set specific points total targets from matches. “We’re at home for the next two, but they’re very tough matches.”

Chris Hughton speaking in his pre-match press conference (Twitter/@OfficialBHAFC)

Arsenal’s 22-match unbeaten run came grinding to a halt away at Southampton in mid-December before a midweek League Cup defeat to Tottenham could have sent Unai Emery’s side plummeting into a run of bad performances.

Thankfully for the Spaniard his side convincing saw of Sean Dyche’s Burnley and closed the gap on Chelsea in fourth after their home loss to Leicester.

His side will know that they will overtake their London rivals if they manage to avoid defeat, putting pressure on them in the late game of match day 19 when they take on Watford.

Arsenal’s injury concerns have increased over the last few weeks with centre backs Rob Holding (ACL) and Konstantinos Mavropanos (groin) certainly missing the trip to the south coast whilst Shkodran Mustafi (hamstring) faces a late fitness test.

Elsewhere theres also doubts over Hector Bellerin (calf), Sead Kolasinac (thigh) and Nacho Monreal (muscle) whilst Danny Welbeck is unavailable as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury. Armenian playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan is also absent for Arsenal with an ankle injury.

Prediction: Brighton are strong at home and with the south coast fans sure to be full of festive spirit they may frustrate the Gunners, although if Aubameyang is firing they will be hard to stop.

Brighton 1 Arsenal 1


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