Arsenal 1-1 Brighton: Gunners top four hopes all but over
Photo: Getty Images

Arsenal 1-1 Brighton: Gunners top four hopes all but over

Arsenal were held by Brighton. 

Matt Dawson

Sokratis sits motionless on the turf, Matteo Guendouzi has his hands on his head, Alex Iwobi stands in disbelief. The fans boo. 

After 90 minutes and a long arduous season with Unai Emery at the helm, Arsenal's top four chances for another year are all but done.

The picture at the end of the game looked like a scene from Arsene Wenger's final years in charge - not Emery's first. 

The Gunners' torrid run in the Premier League continued on Sunday afternoon, being held by a resilient Brighton as the game finished a tale of two penalties.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck the first blow in the opening period before Glenn Murray hit back with his own spot kick in the second half. 

Story of the match 

Arsenal's start against Valencia last Thursday night was timid and nervy. However, their performance in the early knockings of this game was in stark contrast.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan set the tone after just a minute on the clock. Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil exchanged passes on the edge of the area before it found its way to the Armenian who struck an effort off the post.

But it didn't take long for the Gunners to find the net. Nacho Monreal was brought down under the challenge of Alireza Jahankakhsh after eight minutes and the referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the penalty spot. 

Aubameyang was the man entrusted with the duties from 12 yards and he didn't miss, picking out the bottom corner for his 20th Premier League strike of the season.

Brighton would come back fighting, though, as they showed no signs of a side with nothing to play for. 

Throughout much of the first half, they had the better spells, with Solly March proving a threat down the right. He combined with Bernardo on the left before picking out Murray whose header was denied by Leno. 

Just after the half-hour mark, March was again proving to be dangerous. He cut inside past Stephan Lichtsteiner, but could only find the side netting with his attempt. The Gunners lacking fluidity. 

But they were to end the first period as they'd started it; in the ascendancy. Had it not been for Mat Ryan, then Brighton would have been further behind. He first saved from Shkodran Mustafi's header before getting down brilliantly to his right-hand side to keep out Aubameyang six minutes before the break. 

The Seagulls were proving solid in defence and on the verge of half time, Lewis Dunk came to their rescue, getting in the way of Lacazette's powerful drive. 

Arsenal's display had still been unconvincing, however, and that showed in a dreadful second half. 

March was again the orchestrator, giving the Arsenal defence a reminder of his abilities early in the second period, forcing Leno into a save.

The wide player then caused more chaos, earning his team a penalty. He led a breakaway and then Granit Xhaka pulled him down inside the box. Murray then duly obliged from the spot, scoring the 200th goal of his career.

Brighton were full of intensity and life and it took Arsenal until the 68th minute to create their first chance of the second half, as Aubameyang blazed a volley over from the back post. 

The Gabonese striker then had an even better opportunity. Mkhitaryan did excellently well on the left before delivering a cross for the Gunners' number 14. He had acres of space but somehow hammered it wide.

Emery's response was to make a triple substitution with just under 15 minutes left. Sead Kolasinac, Guendouzi and Iwobi all came on as Lichtsteiner, Mkhitaryan and Xhaka were taken off. 

The substitutes didn't provide the Gunners with any added intensity though. Instead, it was the visitors who nearly found a winner. A ball to the back post picked out March who had the goal at his mercy but Leno sprawled to his right to somehow keep the ball out. 

Arsenal pushed hard towards the end of the game but it wasn't enough as they were held to a draw.