Arsenal have some key battles to win against Brighton on Tuesday.
The 3-1 win over Chelsea brought an end to a torrid run of seven matches without victory in the Premier League, one that was secured via an array of factors.
Among them were the individual battles that Arsenal won.
Kieran Tierney still has Reece James in his pocket, likewise Bukayo Saka with Ben Chilwell, while Emile Smith Rowe made N’Golo Kante look distinctly average as he dominated the advanced central areas.
It was a similar story for the returning Pablo Mari, who dealt admirably with Tammy Abraham having not started a Premier League fixture in over six months.
In order to prove that the victory over Chelsea was no blip and indeed the fresh start Arsenal have yearned for in the Premier League, similar battles must be won against a Brighton side who’ve enjoyed extended joy against Mikel Arteta’s men over recent seasons.
Last season in the reverse fixture, it was the Seagulls who won these individual duels, even in the unlikely form of Neal Maupay vs Matteo Guendouzi. A mental battle as much as a physical one, the Gunners need to reverse such fortunes on Tuesday if they are to build towards a brighter year.
Here are three of them.
Emile Smith Rowe vs Yves Bissouma
One of the players tagged as the future of Arsenal coming up against a player who many want to be included in that conversation.
Who exactly Arteta opts to play at the AMEX Stadium is by no means certain, although the early withdrawal of Emile Smith Rowe against Chelsea does hint towards his inclusion on Tuesday. Likewise, he isn’t physically capable of playing regular Premier League minutes just yet, so it could have just been precautionary. We’ll work on the basis of the former.
Much in the way he did against Kante, Smith Rowe’s task will be a combination of eliminating Yves Bissouma from the game when in possession and limiting his time on the ball off it.
Clever in how he manipulated the spaces in between the lines against Chelsea, the 20-year-old also performed his defensive duties valiantly, dropping off from his advanced position to act as a third body in the centre of the park.
Bissouma is a player courting interest across Europe due to his tenacity protecting the Brighton defence and acting as the first building block in the Seagulls’ attacking phases. Helping to limit that supply line and drag him out of position will open the space in the inside channels for Arsenal to exploit the slow centre-backs, making his task a vital one.
If he plays, of course.