Iconic meetings: Brighton vs Arsenal
Ahead of Brighton’s trip to the Capital, to take on title challengers Arsenal, The Woodwork takes a look at some of the greatest games between the Gunners and the Albion.
April 1982: Brighton 2-1 Arsenal
For younger supporters of the Seagulls, success has been no unfamiliar concept. In recent years, Brighton have proved their brilliance against the big boys of English Football, sweeping aside the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal both home and away. However, there was a time in which victories against the so called ‘big six’ appeared unobtainable, particularly Arsenal. With the 1981/82 top-flight campaign drawing to a close, Brighton were in desperate need of a statement victory to aid them in their fight for survival. In April of that year, with just one month of the season remaining, the Seagulls were provided with a significant opportunity to secure such a victory. Unfortunately for the Albion, it would be against the Gunners; a side which, prior to the encounter, Brighton had never scored against. Despite the early apprehension, the Albion appeared to get off to a good start, having kept Arsenal at bay for the entirety of the first half. With the second half looming, Mike Bailey’s Brighton side may have imagined that they could go on to defend their way to a goalless draw, having already achieved such a feat against the Gunners earlier in the season. However, a quick start to the second half for the away side saw Brighton fall behind, with Arsenal’s Brian Talbot breaking the deadlock. Given such a disappointing start to the second half, it would be difficult to imagine that Brighton could go on to secure a positive result of any kind, given the Gunner’s outstanding form against the Albion. Unbeknown to anyone at the Goldstone ground, the Albion went on to do exactly that. Goals from Andy Ritchie and Michael Robinson secured the Seagull’s first ever victory against Arsenal, coming from behind to beat a side which had proved impossible to defeat prior to the encounter. The victory inspired the south coast side to achieve their highest ever league finish at the time, placing 13th in what would prove to be their penultimate top-flight campaign of the 20th century.
March 2018: Brighton 2-1 Arsenal
Three decades on from their famous first victory against Arsenal, Brighton were finally back amongst the dizzy heights of top-flight football. In similar fashion to the 1981/82 campaign, Brighton would go into the closing months of the 2017/18 campaign with their head above water, ending the month of February with an emphatic 4-1 victory at home to relegation rivals Swansea City. The Albion had even managed to avoid defeat for the entirety of the month, with manager Chris Hughton picking up the manager of the month award as a result of his side’s newfound success. However, Chris Hughton’s side would end the month knowing that their unbeaten run was under significant threat. The Seagulls would start the month of March with the visit of Arsenal, a side which had defeated Brighton in their previous five meetings. Alongside this, the Albion had failed to beat any of the ‘big six’ sides thus far in the campaign, with their most recent clash against such a side being a four-goal thrashing at the hands of Chelsea. However, in similar fashion to 1982 once again, Brighton would pull off another surprise victory against the Gunners. Goals inside the first thirty minutes from Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray provided the Seagulls with a two-goal cushion, perhaps proving to be the final blow for Arsene Wenger’s tenure as Arsenal manager, given his decision to resign a month later. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s response just before half time proved to be a mere consolation for the Gunners, with Brighton securing just a third victory against Arsenal in the club’s history, an inspiring victory for the Albion on route to their eventual 15th placed finish.
December 2019: Arsenal 1-2 Brighton
Just over a year after his side’s shock 2-1 victory over Arsenal, Chris Hughton was dismissed as Brighton manager, bringing an end to his five-year stint on the south coast. In his place, the club would look to bring in Swansea City manager Graham Potter, who had recorded his own shock victory against Arsenal during his time with Swedish outfit Östersunds FK. Almost two years after Potter’s famous Europa League tie against the Gunners, the Solihull born manager was set to repeat such a feat with the Seagulls. Brighton would go into the game knowing that they had never beaten Arsenal away from home, with their only victories against the North London outfit coming on the south coast. However, with Arsenal languishing outside the top six, a situation exacerbated by the recent departure of Unai Emery, the Seagulls were presented with a strong opportunity to record yet another famous victory against Arsenal. Adam Webster’s first half strike from a set piece put the Seagulls ahead at the Emirates, a feat which had not been achieved by Brighton prior to the encounter. Despite a second half equaliser from French forward Alexandre Lacazette, the Albion would go on to secure all three points with a late winner from another French forward in the form of Neal Maupay. The result would prove to be one of several victories against Arsenal under the leadership of Graham Potter, highlighting the significant growth made by the club since the days in which victories against opposition such as Arsenal appeared impossible.