Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said he was concerned by his side’s performance as they handed the initiative in the race for Champions League qualification to rivals Tottenham with a deserved defeat by Brighton at Emirates Stadium.
Brighton – seven games without a victory before kick-off – frustrated the home side with their organisation and efficient forward play in a game where Arsenal failed to look threatening until they mustered a desperate late push.
Leandro Trossard’s curling first-half finish – after a fine assist by the impressive Enock Mwepu – gave Graham Potter’s side something to build on.
And after Gabriel Martinelli appeared to have headed Arsenal level moments before the break – only for a four-minute VAR check to rule him offside – Brighton remained solid before doubling their lead with a superb Mwepu finish.
The Zambia midfielder side-footed home with power from the edge of the box to cap a rounded individual display and produce a look of disbelief on the face of Arteta.
“We made it really difficult for ourselves,” Arteta told BBC Sport. “We were sloppy, we had no purpose to attack, we were really imprecise and we didn’t want to play forward.
“There are many games to play but we have to be concerned about that performance, especially first half.”
Arteta’s side rallied late on with Martin Odegaard firing home from range via a deflection but they stay fifth – three points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, who won 4-0 at Aston Villa later on Saturday – while Potter’s Brighton move up to 11th after just a fourth win in 26 league games.