Arsenal 1-1 Brighton: Gunners top four hopes all but over after disappointing draw
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Arsenal are set to miss out on a top four place after a disappointing 1-1 draw against Brighton in their final home game of the season at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon.
The Gunners made a fast start and took the lead with just nine minutes played when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang slotted home a penalty after Nacho Monreal was tripped inside the area.
With an hour gone, the Seagulls were given a penalty of their own, albeit a soft one after Granit Xhaka brushed against Solly March, and Glenn Murray stepped up to level the game.
The draw means Unai Emery’s side are unlikely to finish in the top four, with North London rivals Tottenham holding a three point advantage and an eight better goal difference going into the final weekend of the season.
Arsenal had the games first chance after just a minute played, with some neat play in and around the box ending with Henrikh Mkhitaryan rolling a shot against the post from the edge of the box.
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The home side were soon in front though when Alireza Jahanbakhsh tripped Monreal as the full-back made his way into the box on eight minutes, with referee Anthony Taylor pointing straight to the spot.
Aubameyang took the penalty, smashing the ball into the bottom left corner, sending Matt Ryan the wrong way and putting the Gunners 1-0 up.
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Brighton’s first chance came from an Arsenal mistake on 26 minutes when Bernd Leno gave the ball away on the edge of his own box, but the ‘keeper atoned for his error by saving Murray’s goal bound header moments later.
Brighton were seeing more the ball as the half went on, but it was Arsenal who came closest to scoring the next goal when Shkodran Mustafi stooped to meet Granit Xhaka’s corner, but Ryan got down quickly to keep out his powerful header.
The Australia stopper was again called into action five minutes before the break, palming behind Aubameyang’s shot after a good delivery from Mesut Ozil as Unai Emery’s side finished the half strongly.
They had two more chances in the seconds before half-time, with Ryan pushing away Mkhitaryan’s drive before Lewis Dunk bravely headed away Alexandre Lacazette’s powerful drive.
The hosts made a slow start after the interval, and the visitors could have been level with 51 minutes gone when March burst into the Arsenal box, but Leno got down well to save.
Emery’s men were flat and Brighton punished their poor second-half display with an hour gone, although Arsenal had every right to be aggrieved by the manner of the goal.
March caused the danger again, getting past Xhaka inside the area, but the Swiss midfielder left an arm out, touching the Brighton wingers back before he hit the deck.
Referee Taylor again pointed to the spot for an incredibly soft penalty award. Murray stepped up and powered past a motionless Leno to level the game and leave the Gunners with work to do.
Aubameyang should have put the home side back ahead with just under 20 minutes left, but Aubameyang somehow volleyed wide from close range as Arsenal’s top four hopes appeared to be slipping away.
It would have been even worse had it not been for a world class save from Leno, who clawed away a certain goal from Murray’s back post header.