Three things we learned from Arsenal - Brighton
Arsenal beat Brighton 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium on the final day as Nicolas Pepe struck twice, but it wasn’t enough to qualify for Europe.
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The Gunners looked like they may qualify for the Europa Conference League but Tottenham’s late comeback win at Leicester scuppered that chance.
With the win Arsenal finish in eighth place on 61 points, as they’ve finished eighth in two-straight seasons. Brighton finished 16th on 41 points.
Three things we learned
1. Gunners finish with flourish, set up well for next season: Mikel Arteta will point to their consistent second half of the season as reason for optimism, as the Gunners are right up there just behind City and Chelsea in points won. Crashing out of the Europa League semifinals will be the lasting memory of the season, though. Arsenal could be heading in the right direction and not having Europa League action next season will actually help them develop as a team and Arteta can spend more time on the training ground.
2. Pepe to go for it: In the last two PL games he’s scored four goals and the penny seems to have dropped for Pepe. With Aubameyang and Lacazette struggling for goals, perhaps Pepe can be Arsenal’s savior next season with Saka and Smith Rowe backing him up?
3. Brighton don’t turn up: The Seagulls had a couple of half chances but looked totally spent. And that’s fine. They stayed up, and Graham Potter’s side beat Man City in midweek, but they do need to kick on and push for a top 10 finish next season. Finishing 16th isn’t good enough.
Man of the Match: Nicolas Pepe - Two quality finishes for his goals and had extra class throughout.
Arsenal looked the more likely to take the lead early on as they peppered the Brighton box with crosses.
A miraculous clearance looked to have denied Rob Holding, but the ball was over the line. However, the assistant referee raised his flag for offside.
Arsenal hit the woodwork just before the break via Gabriel’s towering header and Thomas Partey had a shot pushed over, as Brighton continued to drop deeper and deeper, but somehow held on.
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But at the start of the second half, Nicolas Pepe was played in by Chambers and smashed home across goal for the opener.
Half time substitute Aaron Connolly then went close to equalizing but fired wide.
Then Pepe wrapped up the win for Arsenal.
Martin Odegaard played him in and the Ivory Coast winger stroked home a lovely finish to score his and Arsenal’s second.
The rest of the game played out with Arsenal keeping the ball well, but they did miss out on Europa Conference League qualification.
That may not be the worst thing in the world for next season.