Brighton v Arsenal Wednesday December 26, 17:15 Live on Sky Sports
Brighton impress despite defeat
Brighton remain in 13th and nine points clear of the relegation zone after losing 2-0 at Bournemouth on Saturday. The Seagulls enjoyed the better of the early opportunities with Yves Bissouma being denied from point-blank range before Jurgen Locadia also forced a decent effort on-target.
However, the Seasiders fell behind midway through the first-half and saw centre-half Lewis Dunk red carded with 20 minutes to play, before conceding the decisive second goal. Manager Chris Hughton admitted he was "really pleased" with his side's performance, especially so as Albion managed just one attempt on-target in their previous away game.
Hughton left Glenn Murray and Anthony Knockaert on the bench at the Vitality Stadium, but their replacements - Locadia and Florin Andone - caused the home defence numerous problems in the first half. The Brighton boss may look to rest and rotate his forwards again here as we enter the busy festive period.
Arsenal return to winning ways
A highly-rated performance from Mesut Ozil, a double from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyangand a late goal from Alex Iwobi helped Arsenal to a 3-1 triumph over Burnley on Saturday. Victory in a fiery contest helped to maintain the Gunners pressure on the Premier League's top-four heading into Christmas.
After their impressive 22-game unbeaten run was ended by a revitalised Southampton last weekend, Arsenal exited the League Cup to rivals Tottenham in midweek and needed to produce a response at The Emirates here. Ozil - making a first start in six league matches - provided the pivotal creative spark.
Unai Emery must decide whether to keep the German in his starting XI here, but Nacho Monreal is now a major doubt, potentially worsening an already concerning lack of senior defensive players with Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, and Shkodran Mustafi out, and captain Laurent Koscielny still making a tentative return to action.
Gunners an appealling price
Arsenal have chalked up as 1.76 favourites here and that's an appealing price considering Chelsea went off at 1.45, Spurs at 1.70 and Manchester United at 1.71. The Gunners have W4-D1-L1 on their travels when excluding the Big Six this season and have scored at least twice in each of their last eight away days.
Brighton5.50 may have only lost six of 27 home outings here since promotion, but it's noticeable that five of these defeats came when welcoming Big Six opposition. In fact, the Seagulls have returned W1-D1-L12 when taking on Manchester City, Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal under Hughton.
The hosts are posting dreadful performance data returns this term too; Albion boast just a 37% shots in the box ratio, 37% Expected Goals ratio and an awful 30% xG from open play ratio return, making them easily opposable.
Goals on the agenda
Brighton have seen six of their nine meetings with Big Six teams at The Amex feature at least three goals and a repeat could be on the cards when Arsenal arrive on Boxing Day. The visitors have seen both sides score in all eight away days under Emery with each encounter also crossing the Over 2.5 Goals barrier.
Although the Seagulls have tended to struggle against the Premier League's elite, Hughton's charges have still managed to score in seven of the aforementioned nine matches against the Big Six and should have opportunities to enhance that record against a makeshift Gunners defence here.
The duo are comfortably covering the 2.50 goals line when viewing Expected Goals averages, making a play on Over 2.5 Goals at 1.77 appealing.