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No amount of trash talking or off-the-ball retribution — as midfielder Matteo Guendouzi took it upon himself to dish out on Maupay for his role in the incident that means Bernd Leno is likely to miss the rest of the season — can compensate for Arsenal’s mental weaknesses.
Under Arsene Wenger — at least in the first half of his reign — the Gunners were perfectly adept at doing both. Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp weren’t slow in coming forward when it was time for the insults to be dished out.
Yet, the best Arsenal teams — even the ones Arteta played in — would have found a way to pick the locks, particularly after Nicolas Pepe had put them ahead.
Arsenal have not qualified for the Champions League since Arteta left to become Pep Guardiola’s assistant in 2016 and their hopes of doing so this season are bleak, particularly after this shattering loss at the Amex.
It’s backing up the jibes — making sure your football does the talking — that’s where this Arsenal squad come a cropper. The Arsenal team Arteta played in, following his arrival from Everton in August 2011, were far from perfect — incomparable to Wenger’s greatest sides.
Talking the talk has never been a difficulty for Arsenal. Just ask Roy Keane. Walking the walk, however, that’s where their problems lie, as Mikel Arteta is quickly discovering.
Graham Potter’s team were compact and well organised to claim their first league win of 2020.
Brighton deserve huge credit, of course. Even taking Arsenal’s increasingly brittle backbone into account, coming from a goal down to win against any Premier League side is no mean feat.
Lewis Dunk was colossal in the heart of their defence, Yves Bissouma covered every blade of grass and Maupay antagonised the Gunners in more ways than one.
Emotions were running high, of course. Arsenal players had watched their goalkeeper carried off, and the fact that it was Maupay, who had innocuously collided with Leno in the lead-up to the injury, who then stroked home the winner, merely exacerbated their anger.
Yet they still qualified for the Champions League in each of his five seasons at the Emirates. He also left north London with a couple of FA Cup winner’s medals.
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