The players enter the arena to warm applause. Ljungberg takes his place in the dugout. He’s wearing a big coat zipped up to his neck so I can’t tell you whether he’s got a shirt and tie underneath: sorry, Paul Scholes.
In other news, Newcastle have taken the lead at Sheffiled United thanks to Allan Saint-Maxims first goal for the club. Steve Bruce’s Black and White Army are on the march!
And here’s thought for the day, from Justin Kavanagh. “Has Arsenal’s negative goal difference got much to do with the presence of the Brazilian enigma who was at the heart of the 7-1 World Cup semi-final heartbreak, do you think? Clearly, he is a fine footballer, and can deliver a wonderful long pass, but I’ve always had a suspicion that he’d be a much better deep midfielder than a centre-half (who can’t seem to keep track of his marker).” Well, yes, a deep midfielder (or a centreback in a three-man defence) and possibly a better one than any of Arsenal’s current crop. The problem goes beyond one player – Arsenal’s is a very unbalanced squad; and conceding is certainly a problem, but that negative difference is also because they’re not scoring anywhere near as many as they should. Burnley and Villa has netted more than them so far this season. Still, I fancy them to nick another 2-2 today (which is why Aubameyang is my fantasy captain again).
Here are the thoughts of Kim “No Relation” Doyle: “With Freddie and Per at the helm of the Gunners, I expect the return of quick attacking, one or two touch football. The real problem has been in the defensive midfielder position(s) – with teams attacker through the middle, almost at will. Torreira needs to return to the combative form that he showed in his first several Arsenal starts of last season. Like the classical Hero the Gunners have gone down to the underworld but now will return to the Land of the Living.”
David Luiz has been stating the obvious: “In modern football everyone has to understand both moments of the game – attacking and defending … We have to improve this immediately because it’s been a long time since you can see that nobody can score against us.”
As for Brighton, Pascal Gross says the keys to them winning today will be “patience on the ball, be brave on the ball and then use your chances.”
Ljungberg has made three changes to the lineup that started at Carrow Road, with Mustafi jilted to enable Sokratis to return. Bellerin comes in at right-back. Still no place for Pepe, though.
Arsenal: Leno; Bellerin, Sokratis, David Luiz, Kolasinac; Willock, Xhaka, Torreira; Ozil; Aubameyang, Lacazette
Subs: Martinez, Guendouzi, Tierney, Pepe, Martinelli, Nelson, Chambers
Brighton: Ryan; Webster, Dunk, Stephens; Alzate, Propper, Mooy, Gross, Burn; Maupay, Connolly
Subs: Bissouma, Duffy, Button, Bernardo, Murray, Trossard, Montoya
Referee: G Scott
Arsenal have two of the best strikers around – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Their highest paid player is a creative midfielder. And in the summer they spent a record fee on an exciting forward. So it has taken extraordinary incompetence for them to reach the 14-game mark with a negative goal difference. And that’s just one reason why Unai Emery got the boot. Yes, Arsenal are, in the throes of a crisis. They are desperately seeking a full-time manager and a coherent way of playing. And, er, they are four points and six places above Brighton, who are so happy with their gaffer that they’ve just handed him a six-year contract extension without being asked.
The thing is, Graham Potter has given Brighton a sense of direction even if results have yet to live up to the promise shown. He has generated belief. Arsenal, alas, remain a club riddled with doubts, possibly even despair, at least for some. Temporary boss Freddie Ljungberg didn’t do a heck of a lot to change that in his first match in charge even if there were brief spells of encouragement during the draw at Norwich. Let’s see if the visit of Brighton to the Emirates bring any more cheer to Arsenal fans, and justifies the Seagulls’ faith in Potter.