Mikel Arteta praises 'incredible' Arsenal after victory over Brighton in Premier League

Gunners take 2-0 win at the Emirates thanks to goals from Gabriel Jesus and Kai Havertz

Kai Havertz celebrates scoring Arsenal's second goal in their 2-0 Premier League win over Brighton at the Emirates Stadium on December 17, 2023. Getty Images
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Arsenal finally wore down Brighton's resistance to secure a 2-0 Premier League victory at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Arsenal had 15 shots to zero for Brighton in the first half alone but the breakthrough didn't come until the 53rd minute.

Brighton defender Jan Paul van Hecke attempted to head clear a corner from Bakayo Saka but the ball only found Gabriel Jesus, who was on hand to head it back into an empty net.

That goal forced Brighton to become more ambitious and Jack Hinshelwood finally forced a save from David Raya in the 64th, but it was a weak header straight at the Arsenal goalkeeper.

Arsenal kept coming close at the other end and Lewis Dunk had to clear off the line after another corner in the 68th minute, while Martin Odegaard drew a quality save from Bart Verbruggen when he drove into the area and unleashed a fierce shot that needed a one-handed stop.

Kai Havertz headed high from six yards out after the ensuing corner, while Brighton came closest to an equaliser seven minutes from time when Pascal Gross met a cross from Kaoru Mitoma but sent his shot just wide of the near post.

Just as it looked like Arsenal might be made to pay for all those misses, substitute Eddie Nketiah released Havertz on a counter and the Germany forward beat Verbruggen with a left-foot shot inside the far post.

“Incredible performance,” said Arteta, whose team took over at the top of the Premier League, one point ahead of Liverpool, whose home clash against Manchester United later on Sunday ended in a 0-0 draw.

“A joy to watch from the start to the end. The way we did it against this very good team. Even at half-time the scoreline didn’t reflect that. We fully deserved to win the game.

“We had 15 shots [in the first half], it was a lot. We had to keep going. We don’t have that accuracy in front of goal.”

As for Arsenal's failure to grab a second goal earlier in the game, the Spanish manager added: “That’s the Premier League. You see it in every game. We had many situations to put the ball in the net and we didn’t, 1-0 isn’t enough.”

Three days after they clinched a place in the Europa League last 16, Brighton clearly struggled to cope with the quick turnaround as they failed to hit anything like top gear, although Van Hecke and Lewis Dunk were immense at the back.

“I'm disappointed for the result but not for the other things. We deserved to lose. Arsenal played much better than us, they deserved to win the game,” said manager Roberto De Zerbi after his team dropped a place to ninth in the table.

Updated: December 17, 2023, 8:00 PM