Arsenal 2 Brighton & Hove Albion 0
It’s fair to say Albion’s season ended on Tuesday with that brilliant victory at the Amex against Champions Manchester City. But many are asking have the Albion improved as a football club?
We won’t mention the Magaluf syndrome, but after pinning Arsenal back for the first quarter of the first half Albion did really flatter to deceive as the game wore on.
The Seagulls had a few chances early on Alireza Jahanbakhsh with a couple of efforts, Jakub Moder firing at Bernd Leno when well placed even Lewis Dunk having a dig from long distance which was high and wide.
When Arsenal’s Emile Smith- Rowe lost the ball in an advanced position Jahanbakhsh raced clear with an impressive turn of foot – however when he got to the business end of the pitch he allowed the Kieran Tierney to cut out his effort which may have been a shot or a pass to the onrushing Alexis Mac Allister.
You have to consider now if Jahanbakhsh will stay with the Albion – Graham Potter has given him a host of chances, but he just hasn’t delivered the goods at this level.
Arsenal had the better chances as Robert Sanchez had a curious afternoon as he slipped whilst taking a goal kick, had one or more flaps, and got a hefty kick from his team mate, Dan Burn.
Arsenal should have gone ahead as the ball fell to Rob Holding from a corner and although from his effort it appeared the whole of the ball had crossed the line, referee Jon Moss found another infringement to disallow on.
Jakub Moder saw a close range effort blocked which then saw Dunk’s long range effort.
Before half time Gabriel saw a looping header cause Sanchez all kinds of problems as it rattled the top of the bar.
Jahanbakhsh and the largely ineffective Leondro Trossard were replaced by Aaron Connolly and Adam Lallana at half time.
Arsenal were ahead four minutes into the second half a Calum Chambers centre lashed home by Nicholas Pepe – almost immediately from the restart Connolly surged clear set himself and placed his shot very wide.
Aubameyang had a good shout for penalty, as he for once escaped the attentions of Adam Webster, but referee Moss deemed Lallana’s challenge was a fair one.
Just after this Bissouma put his laces through a shot that just pulled wide – only for Pepe to race clear again and place a shot through the legs of Lewis Dunk and past Sanchez for 2-0.
Despite the scoreline both Ben White and Dan Burn looked assured as full backs.
Moder brought another save out of Leno – then Thomas Partey hit the bar for Arsenal again, with a clever volley. The last twenty or so minutes were more about passports than passing as Arsenal could do no more to qualify for Europe and Albion had already achieved their objective.
So Albion finish in 16th position on the same number of points as last season when they finished 15th.
But an improvement on the last season Chris Hughton was in charge when they achieved a 17th place finish, on 36 points their lowest Premier League haul so far.
In four Premier League seasons they have not finished higher then 15th place – although this should suit everyone involved with the club.
In 152 Premier League matches the Seagulls have not had anything but pride and league position to play for on the final day – only once at the conclusion of a match week have they been in the bottom three. Out of 152 match weeks stretching over four years, that was match week two, back in August 2017 – after a o-0 draw with Watford.
Have Brighton & Hove Albion improved? Cast your minds back 25 years – yes, quite astonishingly.
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