On the face of it, a draw at Brighton seems like two points dropped for Arsenal but, in truth, Mikel Arteta’s men were a little fortunate to come away with a point after a timid performance.
Although neither side really clicked in the final third, it was the hosts who competed better, were more adventurous and who showed greater cohesion for the 90 minutes. Arsenal, meanwhile, looked more worried about the wind and rain.
And while the conditions were pretty miserable at the Amex Stadium and far from conducive of good football, allowing it to impact upon your performance in the way we did was amateurish.
In the end, though, a point and clean sheet away from home is something positive to take away. Brighton are a decent proposition this season and will cause better teams than us a problem, though you have to wonder if we really are serious contenders for a European spot if we can’t snatch wins on days like these.
In the build-up to the match I wrote about the issues that may arise from the absence of Granit Xhaka in the centre of midfield and it feels like we saw a little bit of that in our midfield. There are a lot of young lads in the centre of the park and, for all their talent, sometimes experience can carry you over the line. Sometimes experience can find a way in a tight spot. Today, we lacked that and it may become something of an issue on the road in the weeks and months ahead.
Sambi Lokonga is a fine young player but surrounded by Martin Odegaard, Emile Smith Rowe, and Bukayo Saka, he doesn’t have many guiding hands. Only Thomas Partey can really lend his experience in those sorts of situations and, if he is not on his game, we can look a little callow.
That felt like the case for much of the 90 minutes against Graham Potter’s side. We were second to a lot of balls, lost a lot of challenges, and repeatedly gave up possession cheaply. The fleeting counter-attacks we did manage too often petered out or lacked the conviction required.
Mikel Arteta will likely be relieved to have gotten away with a point from this one but the bigger problem of the midfield will not be going anywhere soon. Fortunately, he has the upcoming international break to ponder it but Xhaka’s injury has shorn him of something he has precious little of in reserve.
Perhaps Mohammed Elneny will be leaned upon a little more for the away fixtures to come, or Nicolas Pepe may be able to add something a little different but neither are perfect solutions in the longer term.
Plenty to think about for the manager.
For now, he can be satisfied that his defence continues to look defiant. Ben White and Gabriel are formidable while Aaron Ramsdale is growing into the starting berth. Between them and the wing backs, Arsenal have the basis of a genuinely solid unit and that’s a key building block on which we can hopefully move forward.
If we can introduce a little more balance in the midfield and attack, this really will be an exciting squad. Until then, there’ll likely be more days like these.