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7/10 Saka brightest spark in Arsenal’s dim draw at Brighton

A rainy day on the south coast set the scene for Arsenal’s trip to Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, where the Gunners played out a 0-0 draw in the Premier League.

The home side got on top early as Graham Potter’s side forced mistakes and delivered a number of dangerous balls into the box, with Marc Cucurella enjoying some success down the left flank. Both teams looked to cancel each other out in the second half with no dangerous opportunity coming until the 76th minute, when Emile Smith Rowe latched onto a Thomas Partey pass, but the midfielder’s effort was too close to Brighton keeper Robert Sanchez. The hosts came close to stealing all three points before Aaron Ramsdale got in the way of a ball that was destined for Neal Maupay, and that was the final real chance of a game that looked destined to be at deadlock by the end of the 90 minutes.

Positives

There are signs of promise at centre-back, which is an area that Arsenal have struggled with in recent times. Ben White and Gabriel didn’t look fazed under pressure and ground out the result in a tough away game.

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Negatives

On another day, the Gunners could have found themselves down by two at the half. It was too easy for Brighton, who will be disappointed with their finishing in the first half. Mikel Arteta’s side were also too wasteful with the ball, rarely putting any notable number of passes together to create problems.

Manager ratings out of 10

7 — Tactical tweaks appeared to cool Brighton’s control after a torrid first half. Arteta was active in looking to change the game, introducing both Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe with plenty of time left in the match.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Aaron Ramsdale, 7 — The goalkeeper commanded his defence well in moments of pressure and that instilled some calmness when it was needed. A fine interception prevented a waiting Maupay from stealing all three points.

DF Kieran Tierney, 6 — The defender was called into action and had to be careful when converting Cucurella’s cross away from the goal. Tierney could have been more effective going forward, too often his crosses failing to find a dangerous area.

DF Gabriel, 7 — A positive display from what looks to be a promising centre-back partnership between Gabriel and White. The Brazilian dealt with situations comfortably and made it difficult for Brighton to attack through the heart of the defence.

DF Ben White, 7 — The former Brighton star had to remain switched on throughout the game and was often the Arsenal defender clearing the danger.

DF Takehiro Tomiyasu, 5 — Caught napping at times and seemed to struggle against a dynamic Brighton attack. A learning experience for the young defender who will have to cope better when matched up against tricky opposition.

MF Albert Sambi Lokonga, 6 — Slow to release the ball in moments that prevented some counterattacking opportunities of promise. A difficult day at the office for the former Anderlecht captain.

MF Thomas Partey, 6 — The former Atletico Madrid star struggled to help control the midfield in times when his experience was vital. Almost helped win the game when creating Arsenal’s best chance of the game with an astute pass to Smith Rowe.

MF Emile Smith Rowe, 6 — Arsenal’s best chance of the first half came from an early Smith Rowe cross that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang couldn’t react to quickly enough. The 21-year-old looked more comfortable after the introduction of Pepe, allowing him to play in a more favoured No. 10 position, but he has to do much better with the big chance he was presented with.

MF Martin Odegaard, 5 — While the conditions may have played a part, Arsenal’s No. 10 was wasteful with his passing and gave away the ball carelessly on too many occasions. Replaced just after the hour mark.

MF Bukayo Saka, 7 — Arsenal’s brightest spark in attack, Saka looked to trouble the Brighton defenders with direct running. He rarely made a bad decision on the day, but the 20-year-old can’t do it all on his own.

FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 6 — The front man tried his best to find space in channels but struggled to receive any service at the Amex Stadium, with just seven touches in the first half. Eventually replaced by Lacazette in the 72nd minute.

Substitutes

MF Nicolas Pepe, 6 — The winger’s trickery could have been useful if Arsenal managed to get him on the ball.

FW Alexandre Lacazette, N/R — Introduced for Aubameyang, who was struggling but faced the same sort of problems in Brighton’s third. Isolated.

MF Ainsley Maitland-Niles, N/R — Came on for Saka, who was forced off with an injury.

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