Arsenal 0-3 Brighton: The Gunners surrendered the title chase in a disappointing manner

Brighton win 3-0 at the Emirates to surely end Arsenal’s Premier League title hopes; second-half goals from Julio Enciso, Deniz Undav and Pervis Estupinan move Seagulls up to sixth; Gunners four points behind Man City, who need one win to claim title

In a feisty encounter that simmered throughout, Julio Enciso struck the first blow when he nodded in Pervis Estupinan’s cross from just yards out after Jakub Kiwior went down when Evan Ferguson trod on his boot, which came off.

Kiwior’s decision to go down split the Sky Sports pundits. “A big strong centre-half, really?” said an unimpressed Roy Keane, while Micah Richards insisted it was a foul by Ferguson.

The Seagulls then toyed with their hosts, who saw Mikel Arteta booked for dissent as they grew increasingly frustrated, and delivered the knockout punch when Deniz Undav punished former Brighton forward Leandro Trossard’s loose pass by lobbing Aaron Ramsdale.

Estupinan then added a third when he followed up Ramsdale’s weak save by prodding home the rebound and sparking wild celebrations on the south coast – and in Manchester.

With Arsenal attempting to hang onto City’s coattails and Brighton eyeing a Europa League spot, both sides knew the importance of claiming victory, and the tone was set within five minutes when Gabriel Martinelli smashed into Kaoru Mitoma.

Moises Caicedo gained retribution moments later with a lunging tackle on the Arsenal forward, with both offences somehow not being punished by a yellow card.

Martinelli had to be replaced following Caicedo’s tackle and was seen in a protective boot at full-time. Trossard came on to replace him amid a chorus of boos from the travelling supporters.

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The Belgian almost silenced them when he clipped a shot against the bar, while Brighton went close when Ramsdale tipped over Enciso’s shot after a sweeping move.

Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka dragged shots wide and Jason Steele saved from Gabriel Jesus, but the Seagulls had the standout chance of the first half when Enciso skied a shot despite Ramsdale lying prone after superb work by Mitoma.

Enciso did find the back of the net just after half-time, though, nodding in Estupinan’s cross as Kiwior hit the floor, with Gary Neville telling Sky Sports: “As a centre-half, surely you just have to stand up and let the attack finish?”

The goal increased the heat on Arteta, who had been ticking all afternoon, and he went into the book after one outburst too many, with the reality beginning to dawn that this was the day on which their dreams of a first Premier League title in 19 years would be extinguished.

Danny Welbeck and Alexis Mac Allister went close to doubling Brighton’s lead as they turned the screw on their hosts, with Arsenal unable to shake the impressive visitors from their groove.

Reiss Nelson was summoned from the bench and almost scored with his first touch but there would be no repeat of his heroics against Bournemouth in this stadium earlier this season.

Undav then punished Trossard’s mistake with a delicate chip over Ramsdale that prompted De Zerbi to charge towards the corner flag in celebration.

The Brighton boss then produced a knee slide along his technical area as Estupinan crowned a remarkable win that moves his side up to sixth and within touching distance of Europe.

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A downbeat Arteta bemoaned Arsenal’s second-half performance, saying: “Today we have to apologise because the performance that we had in the second half is not acceptable.”

Asked about beating City to the title, Arteta said: “Mathematically it is still possible and this is football, but it is impossible to be thinking about that today.

“We have to be thinking about the result and the performance we had in the second half and understand why and obviously have a different reaction in the next game.

“We concede a goal when they are really direct in behind and from there the team had no reaction. Obviously, when you give the silly goal away, the second one, then the team collapsed. The team had no answers.

“You have to do a lot of good things, incredible things, to be second in this league over the last 10 months but if this team is able to show that face as well, for sure, there are things that have to be addressed.”


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