Premier League: Salah Sends Liverpool Seven Points Clear Again

Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah scores the opening goal from the penalty spot during their match against Brighton and Hove Albion at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on January 12, 2019. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed his side’s maturity as Premier League contenders after breaking down an obdurate Brighton thanks to Mohamed Salah’s 50th-minute penalty in a 1-0 win on Saturday.

Klopp’s men had lost their last two games in very contrasting fashion as Manchester City inflicted Liverpool’s only Premier League defeat of the campaign nine days ago before a much-changed side lost in the FA Cup to Wolves.

Liverpool were far from their fluent best on England’s south coast, but ground out a vital win to move seven points clear of City, who are in action at home to Wolves on Monday, thanks to a 13th clean sheet in 22 league games this season.

“We are not the Harlem Globetrotters, we have to deliver results,” said Klopp on the need to respond to defeat at City.

“For that, we need to perform. The performance was good. It was not the best performance of the season in a few departments but I would say it was the most mature performance of the season.

“It’s so important. On the good days everybody can win; on average days not a lot of teams can win football games and, on a bad day, only a few can win.

“Today was not a bad day but it was a difficult day because Brighton is doing really well.”

Salah was just one a number of first-team regulars to return from Monday’s defeat by Wolves, but the Egyptian and the rest of Liverpool’s forward line were starved of service before the break as Brighton sat deep and the visitors dominated possession without any cutting edge.

“It was very hard but that is how it is,” added Klopp. “I liked the performance. It wasn’t an opera of football but it was a really nice song.”

Salah’s signal of intent

Salah immediately signalled a change in Liverpool’s intent after half-time as his powerful shot at the end of a purposeful run was well saved by David Button.

Brighton, though, were architects of their own downfall moments later. Salah was given too much room inside the area to turn and Pascal Gross then hauled down last season’s Premier League player of the year.

“I feel for Pascal because Mo Salah is probably the most dangerous player once he gets in those positions one on one,” said Brighton boss Chris Hughton, who had no complaints over the penalty award.

Salah stepped up to blast the penalty past Button and move level with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Harry Kane as the league’s top-scorer on 14 goals for the season.

One moment of madness from Gross undid Hughton’s gameplan to defend and frustrate the league leaders.

Yet, the German midfielder had a chance to make amends almost immediately with Brighton’s best opportunity to level, but his shot was bravely blocked by Fabinho.

From then on Liverpool looked more likely to add to their lead than concede as Firmino, Georginio Wijnaldum and Sadio Mane all went close before Salah passed up a glorious chance two minutes from time when he turned James Milner’s driven cross wide from point-blank range.

That could have proved costly when Florin Andone escaped in behind the Liverpool defence in stoppage time, but his low cross found no takers.

And Liverpool held out to ensure a largely forgettable 90 minutes could be remembered as another important step on course to the title come May.

AFP

Arsenal Held As Brighton Make A Point

Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (C) watches his shot as he scores the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Arsenal at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on December 26, 2018. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Arsenal’s top-four bid suffered a setback as Jurgen Locadia’s equaliser gave Brighton a 1-1 draw at the Amex Stadium on Wednesday.

Unai Emery’s side had taken an early lead through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s fine first-half strike.

But Locadia levelled for Brighton before half-time and the Gunners couldn’t find a winner after the interval.

Arsenal have won only once in their last four games in all competitions, a frustrating sequence that started when their 22-match unbeaten run ended at Southampton on December 16.

The north Londoners climb to fourth place in the Premier League, but fifth-placed Chelsea could move back above them if they avoid defeat at Watford later on Wednesday.

“I’m a little disappointed. I think the first half was key in the match. We started winning and had another two chances, but they equalised,” Emery said.

“In the second half we couldn’t impose our game plan. We didn’t make more clear chances to win the match.”

Emery made a half-time change, bringing on Alex Iwobi for Mesut Ozil, increasing the feeling that the out-of-form German midfielder is on borrowed time at Arsenal, where he is the highest-paid player.

Ozil is reported to have annoyed Emery with his failure to buy into his desire for a high-tempo gameplan and has been left out on several occasions.

Defending his latest snub of Ozil, Emery said: “It was tactical. It’s the same every match. Sometimes I change it tactically when I need something to change.”

Emery started Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette up front and the pair were quickly into the groove.

Despite not often starting together as central strikers this term, Aubameyang and Lacazette have established a good understanding and both were denied well by goalkeeper Mat Ryan early on.

Even so, it took just seven minutes for the pair to put Arsenal ahead. Lacazette poked through for Aubameyang, who curled a fine effort high into the far corner for his 15th goal of the season.

Lichtsteiner mistake 

Brighton, beaten in their previous three games, thought they had equalised, only to see Glenn Murray’s effort ruled out.

Murray bundled his way towards goal and forced the ball, seemingly, over the line.

But it was adjudged to have been kicked out of the hands of Arsenal keeper Bernd Leno, who still scrambled back to attempt to claw the ball off the line.

Throughout their impressive first season under Emery, Arsenal have remained troubled by the defensive deficiencies that hampered them in the final years of the Arsene Wenger era.

Brighton equalised in the 35th minute after a horrible error from Arsenal right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner.

The Swiss international attempted to head a long ball back to Leno but succeeded only in finding Locadia, who took the ball past Leno and tapped into an empty net.

Brighton began the second period the stronger, twice coming close to taking the lead.

Solly March cut in from the right and his low effort was pushed around the post by Leno. Then March turned provider to tee up Locadia who glanced just wide.

Iwobi almost won it late on when he blocked March’s clearance and the ball trickled just wide, but Arsenal were force to settle for a point.

AFP

Hazard Keeps Chelsea In Title Hunt At Brighton

Chelsea’s Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard (L) scores his team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on December 16, 2018. Glyn KIRK / AFP

Chelsea put a week of negative headlines for the behaviour of their fans behind them on the field thanks to an inspired Eden Hazard in a 2-1 victory at Brighton on Sunday.

The Belgian provided his ninth assist of the season for Pedro Rodriguez to open the scoring and then chalked up his ninth goal of the campaign, but first in 13 games for club and country.

However, Chelsea failed to build on their 2-0 lead and endured a nervous finale after Solly March pulled one back with his first goal of the campaign.

Victory saw Chelsea open up a three-point lead over Arsenal in fourth and close back to within seven points of leaders Manchester City.

Much of the pre-match speculation centred on the travelling Chelsea supporters and whether there would be any repeat of either the accusations of racist remarks aimed at Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling last weekend or the anti-Semitic chanting heard during their Europa League tie against Vidi in Budapest in midweek.

Fortunately there appeared to be no further incidents as the visiting fans enjoyed an excellent start from Maurizio Sarri’s side.

Brighton had only previously been beaten at home by Tottenham Hotspur this season.

An early foul on Hazard sent the message that the Seagulls would not show Chelsea as much respect as they had last season when they stood back and admired Hazard and company in a 4-0 defeat.

It resulted in a free kick that David Luiz thumped through the defensive wall but straight at Australia goalkeeper Maty Ryan.

But Hazard was clearly not in the mood to be intimidated by a kick or two, and he answered in the most effective way possible in the 17th minute.

He tried a shot from 20 yards that was blocked but he was instantly onto the rebound, sped into the penalty area, past Brighton right back Martin Montoya and played the ball across goal for Pedro to steer the ball into the empty net.

Brighton’s confidence was visibly dented and they almost disappeared completely as an attacking force, barring a long-range effort from March that Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa trapped with a diving stop.

Chelsea could afford to sit back and pick off their passes, as they did when doubling their lead in the 33rd minute.

Brighton’s Nigeria defender Leon Balogun underhit a forward pass that Willian picked off with ease before sending the ball through the Brighton defence and into Hazard’s stride. The Belgian collected and slipped it between Ryan and his near post.

A third goal would not have flattered Chelsea’s dominance and only the post denied Marcos Alonso just after the hour mark.

But three minutes later, Brighton were, improbably, back in the match.

The previously anonymous Pascal Gross crossed from the right, Brazilian left-back Bernardo nodded the ball back across goal, and March hooked it past Kepa from six yards.

Brighton were revitalised and Alonso was lucky not to be sent off for pulling back March as he broke clear on goal.

And Chelsea also breathed a sigh of relief when England defender Lewis Dunk headed wide late on.

AFP

Sterling Stars As Man City Beat Brighton

Raheem Sterling (R) vies with Brighton defender Martin Montoya during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Brighton and Hove Albion at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on September 29, 2018. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Raheem Sterling demonstrated why manager Pep Guardiola believes he is playing the best football of his Manchester City career as the defending champions went top of the Premier League, temporarily at least, following a 2-0 win over Brighton on Saturday.

Sergio Aguero was also on target with the 15th goal in his last 11 league appearances at City’s home Etihad Stadium.

The comfortable win means City have now dropped just four of the last 39 points available to them, setting up a fascinating visit to Anfield next Sunday to face a Liverpool team currently regarded as the greatest threat to City’s successful title defence.

Despite wasting the opportunity to win by a more comfortable margin, City have now scored 21 times in seven league games — a rate that leaves them on target to beat least season’s record haul of 106 goals.

City did not create their first on-target shot until the 26th minute, yet scored the opener three minutes later.

Brighton had played almost faultlessly until that point but, against City’s array of attacking talent, near-perfection is not enough.

Selfless Sane

A Brighton move broke down when Leroy Sane intercepted 10 yards inside the visitors’ half, sparking a cavalry charge upfield with Bernardo Silva and Aguero working a move back to the German winger on the left.

Sane’s cross was as accurate as it was selfless, the ball moved across the face of an open goal for Sterling to slide in and convert his fourth goal of the season from point-blank range.

Sterling, who endured a mixed World Cup playing for England, had earned praise from his club manager on Friday, Guardiola claiming the forward is in better form than he was in scoring 18 times in City’s title-winning campaign last season.

Guardiola described the 23-year-old as “more mature” and, following a slow start to the current season, the same can be said of Sane.

Omitted from Germany’s World Cup squad and criticised in his homeland for his form and attitude recently, Sane started this season out of City’s regular starting line-up.

But recalled to start the previous two league games, against Fulham and Cardiff, Sane had been impressive in an attack that scored eight times in those two outings.

He played a series of effective one-twos, with David Silva in particular, as City put the Brighton defence under pressure.

He also produced that first on-target effort, after 26 minutes, with a shot straight at keeper Mat Ryan although, after City took the lead, there were more openings.

A rare mistake by Lewis Dunk, who won a tackle but left the ball, allowed Sterling a shot which Ryan parried well before the ‘keeper ended the half by punching away Fernandinho’s powerful 30-yard shot.

After the restart, Sane headed down, but over, from Bernardo’s inviting cross and Ryan saved spectacularly, again, from David Silva after attempts from Sterling and Aguero had been blocked in quick succession.

City finally received the reward of a second goal in the 65th minute when Aguero started a move that summed up his team’s superiority.

Having played a one-two with David Silva, the Argentinian forward dribbled 30 yards, beating four defenders in the process, before playing the ball wide to Sterling and continuing his run.

Sterling’s superbly-timed return pass left Aguero with the relatively simple task of continuing his remarkable run of goals at the Etihad from 10 yards out.

AFP

Brighton Sign Bissouma From Lille

Lille’s Malian forward Yves Bissouma vies with Toulouse’s French defender Issa Diop during the French L1 football match Toulouse against Lille May 6, 2018 at the Municipal Stadium in Toulouse, southern France. PASCAL PAVANI / AFP

 

Brighton have signed 21-year-old midfielder Yves Bissouma from Lille on a five-year deal, the Premier League club announced.

The Mali international capped 13 times for his country has joined for an undisclosed fee and becomes the club’s sixth summer signing.

Manager Chris Hughton told the club’s website he was looking to strengthen his midfield ahead of the new term and Bissouma “will add to our options in this area.”

Bissouma began his senior career with Malian side AS Real Bamako before joining Lille in 2016.

He made 55 appearances and scored four goals for the French club and helped them stay in Ligue 1 last season.

AFP

Wenger Defiant As Brighton Rock Arsenal

 

Arsenal’s French manager Arsene Wenger gestures on the touchline during the match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Arsenal at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on March 4, 2018. Photo: Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Arsene Wenger insisted he was still the right man to turn around Arsenal’s fortunes after a 2-1 loss to Brighton on Sunday saw the Gunners suffer their fourth straight defeat in all competitions.

Successive 3-0 reverses by Manchester City, the first in the League Cup final and the second in the league, could be explained in part by the dominance of Pep Guardiola’s runaway table-toppers, but the losses to Ostersunds in the Europa League and to Brighton verged on embarrassing.

City won 1-0 at home to Chelsea later on Sunday, with Bernardo Silva scoring the decisive goal, as they moved a commanding 18 points clear of the chasing pack.

First-half goals from Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray put south coast club Brighton in command and, although Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pulled one back before the break, that was as good as it got for the Gunners.

Arsenal’s eighth loss since the turn of the year left their hopes of a top-four finish in tatters, with Wenger admitting it was “already gone” even before the Gunners were left 13 points adrift of the leading quartet.

Their best chance of qualifying for the elite and lucrative Champions League appears to lie instead in winning the second-tier Europa League, where Arsenal face Italian giants AC Milan in the first of a two-legged last-16 clash at the San Siro on Thursday.

Veteran French boss Wenger has been in charge at Arsenal since 1996 and it remains to be seen whether US-based owner Stan Kroenke has the stomach to sack a manager who has never given the slightest hint he will resign.

“It’s the first time its happened in my whole career and it’s not easy,” Wenger told Sky Sports. “I have enough experience and desire to turn things around. When the team struggles for confidence it’s even more difficult.”

‘Focus on the job’

As for suggestions Arsenal could no longer finish in the top four, Wenger replied: “I think it has already gone before but mathematically with five teams in front of us, we need them to collapse to think it will happen.”

And once again, amid reports of players’ meetings and a growing lack of boardroom backing, the 68-year-old Wenger made it clear he was not considering a future away from Arsenal.

“No. I think what I said before focus on the job, always you do the right thing and do the things that are right for the team.”

Petr Cech appeared to be partly at fault for both Brighton goals and afterwards the experienced goalkeeper tried to ease the pressure on Wenger by telling his Twitter followers: “If you want to win a game away from home in the best league in the world your GK (goalkeeper) can’t concede 2 goals like I did today.”

The win took Brighton seven points clear of the bottom three.

For the Seagulls, who face Manchester United in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, victory meant they had beaten a top-six side for the first time this season.

“What it feels at the moment is that this is a big win, particularly given who we were playing against,” said Brighton manager Chris Hughton.

‘In our hands’

At the Etihad, Bernardo Silva’s goal early in the second half gave City victory over a cautious Chelsea.

“It was so important, a win today is another step closer,” Guardiola told the BBC. “We need four victories to be champions, it is in our hands and if our behaviour is like today we will be champions.”

There was criticism of Chelsea manager Antonio Conte’s defensive tacics, but Guardiola said: “I never judge what the other guy does. Who can forget the same manager and almost same players were champions last year?”

Conte, however, was visibly affected by the death of Fiorentina defender Davide Astori.

Aged just 31, Astori died due to a suspected heart attack on Sunday.

“This is a tragedy and it really hurts me,” said Conte, who coached Astori when he was in charge of Italy.

“He was a great player but especially a fantastic guy. I stay close to his wife, parents and daughter. He was only 31 and it’s very difficult to explain this situation.”

AFP

No Respite For Wenger As Brighton Defeat Arsenal

Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger (L), Arsenal’s assistant manager Steve Bould (C) and Head of medical services Colin Lewin react in their seats as Brighton take a 2-0 lead, during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Arsenal at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on March 4, 2018.
Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

 

Arsene Wenger’s problems deepened as Arsenal lost 2-1 away to Brighton in the Premier League on Sunday — the Gunners’ fourth successive loss in all competitions.

The future of Arsenal manager Wenger has been the subject of fierce debate amid reports of players’ meetings and of a weakening in boardroom support for the Frenchman

And Arsenal’s eighth loss since the turn of the year and one that leaves them 13 points adrift of fourth place – will do nothing to strengthen the position of the veteran manager, who has reigned largely unchallenged since taking over at north London club Arsenal in 1996.

First-half goals from Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray secured the win that moved south coast club Brighton seven points clear of the bottom three, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s strike immediately before the break the visitors’ only reply.

If ever Wenger needed his side to make a solid, composed start to the game, this was it.

Having been outplayed in back to back 3-0 defeats by Manchester City, first in the League Cup final and then, four days later, in the league fixture at the Emirates Stadium, the Gunners badly needed a lift ahead of Thursday’s Europa League meeting with AC Milan.

Instead, Arsenal betrayed the defensive frailties that have been a feature of their campaign and allowed Brighton to take control.

It took Chris Hughton’s side just seven minutes to open up the Arsenal backline, with Ezequiel Schelotto’s powerful run down the left eventually leading to Pascal Gross’s cross forcing a corner.

Gross then delivered the set-piece toward the far post where Shane Duffy rose above Petr Cech’s unconvincing attempt to punch and headed down for defensive partner Dunk to hook home.

The goal triggered the first chants of “you’re getting sacked in the morning” directed at Wenger from the home supporters but alarmingly for the manager, prompted little response from his side.

Instead, Arsenal were repeatedly pushed back with Cech forced to save well from Gross before Dunk wastefully headed over the bar.

Arsenal’s lacklustre display was summed up by the way Alex Iwobi was easily dispossessed inside his own half by Anthony Knockaert who was denied only by another good save from Cech.

Worse was to come for Arsenal in the 26th minute when Laurent Koscielny gave the ball away before Shkodran Mustafi could not reach Gross’s pinpoint cross, allowing Murray a free header that the striker directed past Cech for his 11th league goal of the season.

A sense of nervousness

Aubameyang’s reply, shortly before half-time, had the effect of quietening those fans who had taunted Wenger and injected a sense of nervousness into Brighton’s play.

The former Borussia Dortmund striker reacted well to turn home Granit Xhaka’s drilled pass in the 43rd minute and Arsenal might have been level had Laurent Koscielny not headed against the post in first-half added-time.

The interval came at the right time for Brighton and while the Seagulls didn’t develop the same momentum at the start of the second period, they again showed they could stretch the Arsenal defence.

The Gunners, though, stood firm and with Mesut Ozil becoming more prominent, stepped up their efforts to find an equaliser.

Ozil had been quiet in the first half but a powerful run and shot brought a fine save from Mat Ryan before the German’s threaded pass almost let in Aubameyang for his second goal.

But Arsenal were unable to sustain the pressure needed to break Brighton down for a second time.

AFP

Salah’s Armada Gets Liverpool Shipshape

Mohamed Salah has hogged the headlines this season, but as Liverpool’s 5-1 demolition of Brighton and Hove Albion demonstrated, he is but one component in a scintillating attacking armada.

Salah took a back seat at the Amex Stadium on Saturday, contenting himself with an assist as Roberto Firmino scored twice and Philippe Coutinho found the net with a delightful free-kick beneath the jumping Brighton wall.

With five wins in their last six games, Liverpool have returned to the Premier League top four for the first time since August.

Their one misstep in recent weeks was the 3-3 draw at Sevilla in the Champions League, in which their failure to protect a 3-0 lead left them requiring at least a point at home to Spartak Moscow on Wednesday to reach the last 16.

But having scored 25 goals in their last eight games in all competitions, Liverpool are playing with as much verve and confidence as in any previous phase of manager Jurgen Klopp’s two-year tenure.

Liverpool’s display at Brighton moved beaten manager Chris Hughton to dub Klopp’s side “the best team we have played this season”, despite his men having also lost 2-0 to Pep Guardiola’s runaway league leaders Manchester City.

Although Klopp’s team struggled to beat some of the league’s lesser lights last season, he downplayed their performance on the south coast, saying it had simply been a case of “doing the job”.

The German was more forthcoming in his praise of Brazilian forward Firmino, who finished off two superb counter-attacks to take his tally of goals for the season to 11 in all competitions.

“Roberto scored twice, but what he did around these goals is what excites me the most, to be honest,” Klopp told the Liverpool Echo newspaper.

“In all the counter-attacks, pretty much, he won the ball. By being here, by being a little annoying — a little foot, a little toe — that for us is important.

“With all the rest around him, you need to get used to it. They are all different and all good. I really like these players. That’s why they are here.”

– More robust –

Coutinho, for now, appears to have put his aborted close-season move to Barcelona behind him, his artful free-kick bringing him a sixth league goal.

Salah continues to dazzle, having surpassed former Liverpool luminaries such as Robbie Fowler, Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez by scoring 12 goals in his first 15 Premier League appearances for the club.

Klopp could even afford the luxury of leaving Sadio Mane, the final member of his ‘Fab Four’ of attackers, on the bench, ensuring the Senegalese flier will be primed for action against Spartak.

Liverpool have maintained their form despite injury problems in defence that obliged Klopp to align midfielders Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum as makeshift centre-backs in an experimental back three at Brighton.

They have also become more robust defensively, having shipped only three goals in their last six league games — one of which was a Brighton penalty, another a fluke by Chelsea’s Willian — compared to 13 in the previous six.

Liverpool’s momentum has not been affected by the fact Klopp has made 54 changes to his starting line-up in the Premier League this season, which is more than any other manager.

By regularly shuffling his pack, Klopp seems determined to avoid a repeat of last season’s January slump, when a worn-out team won just once in 10 games, fatally compromising their objectives for the season.

Eleven months on, with their array of attackers in clinical form, Liverpool appear to be in much finer fettle.

AFP

Wenger Savours 21st Anniversary As Arsenal Sink Brighton

Misconduct: Wenger Gets 4-Match Touchline Ban

Arsene Wenger celebrated the 21st anniversary of his arrival at Arsenal in winning style as the Gunners cruised to a 2-0 victory over Brighton on Sunday.

There are many reasons for Arsenal fans to look back fondly on the day Wenger was hired but, after several years of underachievement, the Frenchman finds himself engaged in a fight to restore his tarnished reputation.

It is too early to predict whether Arsenal can end their 13-year wait to win a fourth Premier League title under Wenger, but there were some encouraging signs as Brighton were put to the sword at the Emirates Stadium.

Nacho Monreal opened the scoring in the first half before Alex Iwobi, converting Alexis Sanchez’s majestic assist, wrapped up the points after the interval.

Arsenal’s sixth win from their last seven matches in all competitions moved them to within six points of leaders Manchester City heading into the international break.

Fittingly, Wenger marked his milestone date with a notable record of his own.

Brighton are the 45th different Premier League club to be defeated by Arsenal since Wenger took over in 1996, breaking the record he shared with Manchester United legend Alex Ferguson.

Just 64 hours after winning at Belarus’s Bate Borisov in the Europa League on Thursday, Arsenal were back in action and Wenger freshened up his side by making nine changes.

Wenger this week claimed Arsenal are a more unified team since the transfer window closed just after their humiliating 4-0 defeat at Liverpool.

There was ample evidence to support that theory as his team tore into Brighton right from the start.

Alexandre Lacazette almost gave them the perfect start after just 65 seconds when his fierce drive flashed past Albion goalkeeper Mat Ryan, only to cannon back off a post.

Albion striker Tomer Hemed was serving the first of a three-game suspension, so Izzy Brown started up front and the youngster went close with a header from Pascal Gross’s free-kick.

That effort aside, it was one-way traffic as Wenger’s men left Brighton trailing in their wake time and again.

– Irrepressible –

Sanchez and Iwobi tested Ryan from long-range before Monreal gave Arsenal the lead in the 16th minute.

Granit Xhaka’s free-kick to the far post was headed back by Lacazette and after Shkodran Mustafi had his shot cleared off the line, Monreal chested down and fired home from 10 yards.

It was Monreal’s first league goal for Arsenal since March 2013 and the Spanish defender celebrated with a fist-pumping roar of delight.

Solly March nearly silenced Arsenal’s cheers moments later when he unleashed a powerful 20-yard shot that crashed back off a post.

The Gunners should have doubled their lead before half-time when Brighton defender Lewis Dunk slipped, putting Lacazette through on goal.

But Lacazette let Brighton off the hook with a tame shot straight at Ryan, while Aaron Ramsey saw his low strike repelled by the Australian keeper following an incisive Arsenal counter.

Those misses didn’t prove a source of regret as Sanchez produced a sublime contribution to set up Iwobi’s first goal since January in the 56th minute.

Exchanging passes in a blur of movement, Ramsey and Lacazette worked the ball smoothly into Sanchez inside the penalty area.

Faced with three Albion defenders, Sanchez knew a shot would be blocked, so he instinctively guided a back-heel towards the unmarked Iwobi, who had the simple task of firing home from eight yards.

Sanchez was in irrepressible mood and it took a combined of Dunk and Ryan to keep out his goal-bound shot, before Sead Kolasinac’s header was cleared off the line by March.

AFP