Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Arsenal 1
Magnificent Albion have sent the whole of Brighton and Hove into joyous rapture after the Seagulls beat Arsenal in a thrilling encounter at the Amex.
Lewis Dunk’s strike after just seven minutes set the scene and came after the defender narrowly missed his fifth own goal of the season as his clearance only just cleared Matt Ryan’s cross bar.
The Brighton-born defender swept home Pascal Gross’s corner to put Albion in the lead.
The Seagulls had all the momentum and were stretching the Gunners.
Anthony Knockaert and Jose Izquierdo were seeing plenty of the ball and creating chances.
Albion’s weak link appeared to be Dale Stephens who was caught out more than once and looked slow to react to pressure.
Arsenal looked astonishingly vulnerable at defending set plays. Shane Duffy had a chance to double Albion’s lead but his header went over the bar.
Ezequiel Schelotto was again galloping down the line and getting in some great positions. His endeavour was instrumental in allowing Pascal Gross to whip in a cross which Glenn Murray headed under Peter Cech’s body for his 11th Premier League goal of the season.
The Amex erupted and it really was a rub your eyes moment for Albion fans as the Seagulls led 2-0 after 25 minutes
Albion certainly had their tails up. A quick interchange between Gross and Izquierdo saw the latter fire tamely at Cech. Gross himself had a shot on the turn smothered by Cech.
Despite it looking an unlikely scenario Arsenal pulled a goal back after Dunk scuffed a clearance and Pierre Aubameyang flicked the ball home after Henrikh Mkhitaryan sent it goalwards
Mesut Ozil, after a quiet start, began to stamp his authority on the match. The German World Cup winner showed clever movement and an excellent first touch and was popping up all over for the Gunners.
Just before half time Lorient Koscielny saw an effort come back of the post.
As expected Arsenal took the game to Albion in the second half but it was now Jack Wilshire who was the driving force. Wilshire can put his foot on the ball and hold up play brilliantly.
Mkhitaryan had an effort Ryan held on to well, then Albion’s Aussie keeper made a brilliant stop from an Ozil drive from outside the area.
Then a taking point, Sead Kolasinac, already booked, clattered into Schelotto. The Albion full back looked spark out and a majority of the Amex wanted a red card. It wasn’t forthcoming but Schelotto, although he walked off, was replaced by Bruno.
Although Arsenal were really having a go at the Seagulls, Albion were getting clear on the counter, with Izquierdo as the general outlet. A few times Murray almost got clear but his lack of pace let him down and he had to check back and hold the ball up for the support of Izquierdo or Knockaert.
Albion got the ball in the net for a third time but Izquierdo was adjudged offiside as he squared the ball to an unmarked Murray.
The Seagulls were struggling to clear their lines at times but Arsenal couldn’t capitalise.
Davy Propper was now breaking up play but wasn’t too keen to play the ball forward, similar to Neil McNab in this league all those years ago. Propper also likes a sideways pass. It works for the Albion and this team could eclipse that 13th place finishing position.
Wilshire had Arsenal’s last chance of note. As seven minutes were added, you could almost reach out and touch the tension at the Amex, with fans imploring Stuart Atwell to blow the final whistle. He did to a great roar and emotional responses from fans and players alike.
Albion now sit 10th in the Premier League. This time 20 years ago they were 23rd in what is now League 2 and 91st overall.
Next up Everton at Goodison Park nex Saturday (10 March).
What a run of games, beating Arsenal at home, Sam Allardyce warning his Everton team that they must now prepare for Brighton – and Manchester United concerned by the excellent form of their FA Cup quarter-final opponents when they host Albion the week after … incredible.