By Sedara Philip
Brighton and Hove Albion put an end to Arsenal’s title aspirations with a 3-0 win at the Emirates, leaving the Gunners four points adrift of champions Manchester City. The Seagulls moved closer to a European finish for the first time in their history.
After Manchester City won 3-0 at Everton, Arsenal needed to match their result to cut their lead back to one point. The Gunners were up against a Brighton side that endured a humiliating 5-1 thrashing at home to Everton last week.
Both sides tested each other in the early exchanges, with Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale and his opposite number Jason Steele pulling off top stops to keep the match scoreless. The Gunners lost talented forward Gabriel Martinelli to injury inside the opening quarter of an hour, with former Brighton forward Leandro Trossard taking his place.
Trossard came closest to opening the scoring when he burst into the box and crashed an effort against the crossbar as his side looked for the game’s opener. Both teams went into the break scoreless with nothing to separate them.
The visitors needed only six second-half minutes to open the scoring in controversial circumstances. 19-year-old Paraguayan forward Julio Enciso headed home a cross from Pervis Estupinan from close range for his third goal of the season. Replays showed that Brighton striker Evan Fergus on had stepped on the ankle of Arsenal’s Jakub Kiwior, allowing Enciso to get a free header.
Arsenal collapsed in the closing stages of the clash and allowed Brighton to claim maximum points. The Gunners gifted their opponents their second goal in the 86th minute when Trossard casually flicked the ball against Pascal Gross, sending substitute Deniz Undav through on goal. The German striker expertly lobbed the ball over Arsenal goalkeeper Ramsdale.
Brighton rounded off the scoring in the sixth of eight added minutes through the irrepressible Estupinan. The left-back was on hand to fire an effort into the back of the net after Ramsdale pushed a shot from Undav into his path for his first goal in Brighton colours.
As a result of this defeat, Manchester City will be named champions if they win against Chelsea in their next match. Brighton are in sixth place, one point ahead of Tottenham who are in seventh.