Good afternoon! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole
for today's Premier League clash with Arsenal and Brighton & Hove Albion
The Gunners come into this match in really poor form to leave themselves playing catch-up in the top-four race once again, although their time is really running out now and Chelsea's win over Watford means that only a win will do today. Brighton, by contrast, have had the pressure lifted off their shoulders ahead of this one with their safety now secured after Cardiff were confirmed as the third team to suffer relegation courtesy of their defeat to Crystal Palace yesterday.
Let's have a quick look at the team news before we get underway...
ARSENAL STARTING XI:
Leno; Lichtsteiner, Sokratis, Mustafi, Monreal; Xhaka, Torreira; Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette
SUBS: Elneny, Iwobi, Kolasinac, Nketiah, Cech, Guendouzi, Koscielny
BRIGHTON STARTING XI:
Ryan; Bruno, Duffy, Dunk, Bernardo; Bissouma, Stephens, Gross; Jahanbakhsh, Murray, March
SUBS: Button, Locadia, Burn, Kayal, Andone, Knockaert, Bong
KICKOFF: Here we go, then! Brighton get us underway at the Emirates!
OFF THE POST! Almost a dream start for Arsenal as Mkhitaryan manages to get a shot away from just outside the area, firing it through a crowd of players and against the inside of the post!
Arsenal win a free kick in a good crossing position, but Duffy climbs highest to put Xhaka's delivery behind for a corner.
It will be interesting to see how Brighton could approach this game today. The pressure is finally off after Cardiff's result yesterday and so they may be able to play with a bit more freedom, although some minds may also have already begun to drift to the summer.
PENALTY! Arsenal are awarded as penalty as Monreal goes down under the challenge of Jahanbakhsh with the referee right on the scene! No complaints there!
GOAL! ARSENAL 1-0 BRIGHTON (PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG, PENALTY)
GOAL! No mistake from Aubameyang as he tucks his spot kick right into the bottom corner, sending the keeper the wrong way in the process - goal number 20 of this Premier League season for Aubameyang!
Having just seen another replay of that penalty decision, perhaps it was not as straightforward as it first seemed. It was a risky and somewhat clumsy challenge from Jahanbakhsh, but he did get a foot on the ball first.
Arsenal are in complete control of this game at the moment, just knocking the ball around at their own pace and probing for a way through. It could be a long afternoon for Brighton if it carries on like this.
YELLOW CARD! Sokratis goes into the book for simulation, and the referee is right too. The centre-back tried to buy a free kick and was duly punished - although Anthony Taylor took his time to make the decision.
Chance for Brighton here as they win a free kick in a very dangerous position...
Gross tries to curl it over the line, but it hits the wall and Brighton appeal for a penalty against Sokratis. Anthony Taylor says it hit the shoulder rather than the arm, though, and Arsenal survive their first real scare.
The more and more I see that penalty decision, the more it looks incredibly soft. Jahanbakhsh certainly got more of the ball than he did of Monreal and in retrospect it should not have been given by the ref, who had a really clear view of it.
Indeed, you can make your own minds up - here is the incident in question...
CHANCE! Sustained pressure from Brighton here as Arsenal cannot get the danger clear, with Leno in particular at fault with a poor attempted clearance. Murray sees one shot blocked before getting another chance with a header moments later, but this time Leno is there to keep him at bay.
There were a couple of penalty shouts during that period of play too, and they were just as strong as the one which saw Arsenal win a spot kick. Brighton can feel hard done by so far.
SHOT! This is better from Brighton now, who are getting encouragement going forward now. March is the latest to threaten, turning inside and out before firing into the side-netting at the near post.
Dangerous cross from Gross as he whips a corner into the box which bends all the way through and past the far post without getting a touch. Had that been a couple of yards shorter then Leno would not have been able to stop it from floating over his head and in.
Leno has put his own team under pressure on a couple of occasions already today, giving the ball away cheaply when trying to play out from the back.
Good defending from Dunk as he watches Ozil's cross all the way and nods it behind for a corner with Lacazette lurking dangerously behind him.
CHANCE! Almost a chance from that corner as Mustafi attacks it well at the near post, but the keeper gets down well to make a good save.
This hasn't proved to be quite as easy a game for Arsenal as it looked like being in the opening exchanges. Brighton have not come here just to make up the numbers!
CHANCE! Another smart save from Ryan to deny Aubameyang! Ozil whips a cross into the box from the left flank and Aubameyang just steers it towards the bottom corner, but Ryan is there to turn it behind for a corner.
SHOT! That corner is nodded back to Torreira by Aubameyang, but the Uruguayan drags his half-volley wide of the target.
Arsenal are just starting to control this game again now, with Ozil in particular having a growing influence. A second goal might just be enough to kill this one off.
As things stand Arsenal will move to within one point of Tottenham and two behind Chelsea, so they will still need a helping hand elsewhere on the final day, but victory here is a must first and foremost.
SAVE! Mkhitaryan puts his laces through one from range and stings the palms of Ryan, but the danger is not gone yet and Duffy gets back to clear another shot from almost on his own line moments later.
There will be two minutes of added time at the end of this first half.
YELLOW CARD! Gross picks up a late yellow card for Brighton just before half time.
HALF TIME: ARSENAL 1-0 BRIGHTON
The referee brings the first half to an end at the Emirates Stadium and it is Arsenal who have the lead at the interval, although they haven't quite had things all their own way.
Brighton have had a couple of chances and, while Arsenal have still been on top and deserve the narrow lead, the visitors are still very much in this match.
The opening goal came after only nine minutes as PIerre-Emerick Aubameyang tucked home from the penalty spot, sending the keeper the wrong way with a pinpoint finish.
The decision to award the penalty was controversial, though, as Monreal went down under the challenge of Jahanbakhsh. Replays showed minimal contact if any from the Brighton man, although it was a difficult one to judge on one viewing like the referee had.
Arsenal could have been in front even before that after seeing Mkhitaryan hit the post inside two minutes, with the Armenian drilling a low strike towards goal which came off the inside of the upright.
At that stage it looked like it could be a comfortable game for the hosts, but it hasn't been quite as straightforward as they might have hoped so far.
Mat Ryan has also been forced into saves to deny Mustafi and Aubameyang, but Brighton did enjoy a purple patch in the middle of the half and threatened an equaliser.
Murray came closest for the visitors with a header which was comfortably saved by Leno, while March has also fired an effort into the side-netting.
Arsenal get us back underway for the second half, and Chris Hughton
has made a change at the break with Anthony Knockaert replacing Jahanbakhsh.
It will be interesting to see how hard Arsenal push for a two-goal cushion in the opening stages of this second half. It is hard to see Brighton coming back from two goals down and only a win will do for Arsenal, but they have not exactly being throwing the kitchen sink at them so far.
It is Brighton who have made the better start to this half, though,seeing plenty of the ball since the restart and most of it inside the Arsenal half.
CHANCE! Brighton create their best chance of the match so far as March plays a quick one-two with Murray before firing a low strike towards goal which is too close to the keeper.
Naive play from Stephens as he comes charging out of the defensive shape, allowing Torreira to just step across the ball and go down under the touch. Arsenal have a free kick just about within shooting range...
Xhaka does indeed go for goal, but the wall does its job.
Arsenal win another free kick which is again right on the edge of shooting range, and again he fires it straight into the wall.
Crucial piece of defending from Dunk here as he stretches to cut out a ball which looked destined to go through to Lacazette. He needed to get something on that one!
It is a very even game at the moment, with the territory just about in Brighton's favour. Arsenal haven't got going yet in this second half.
PENALTY! Brighton have a penalty! March storms down the left flank and flies past Xhaka, who just clips his heel and sends him tumbling to the ground! Xhaka picks up a yellow, but worse might be coming...
GOAL! ARSENAL 1-1 BRIGHTON (GLENN MURRAY, PENALTY)
How big could that goal prove to be in this top-four race
which no-one seems to want to win?!
Murray tucks his penalty away as Leno gets nowhere near it, and suddenly Arsenal find themselves needing a goal once again.
Awful defending from Monreal, who is so lax when trying to clear the ball, only giving it straight to a Brighton player on the edge of his own box. He gets away with it, but that was almost suicide!
YELLOW CARD! Dunk picks up a yellow card for pulling back Lacazette to prevent a quick break.
YELLOW CARD! Lichtsteiner swiftly follows him into the book for dissent.
Arsenal have 25 minutes to push for a winner now as a draw really does them no favours. They would not mathematically be out of the equation as things stand, but they would need Spurs to lose and a huge swing in goal difference on the final day to creep into fourth.
CHANCE! This goes down as a chance for a player of Aubameyang's quality. A corner goes all the way through to the striker, who watches it onto his volley but fires his effort over the crossbar. It would have been some goal!
SAVE! The ball breaks to Aubameyang around 25 yards from goal and he gets a quick shot away, but he doesn't catch it right and it is a simple save in the end.
This match is getting stretched now and Brighton almost take advantage as Knockaert cuts inside from the right flank but cannot properly test the keeper with his effort.
CHANCE! Oh my word, how has this not gone in?! Aubameyang has just missed a sitting to restore Arsenal's lead, volleying wide from just eight yards out after Mkhitaryan's cross had made it all the way through to him. No-one inside the Emirates can quite believe that he has missed that one!
CHANCE! This would have been brilliant from Lacazette as he flicks the ball up, over a defender's head and then goes for a volley all in the space of about a yard. His final shot is snuffed out, though.
Arsenal are hammering on the Brighton door at the moment with corner after corner! Can the visitors hold out?!
ARSENAL SUBS: Unai Emery
makes a triple change here! On come Sead Kolasinac, Alex Iwobi and Matteo Guendouzi in place of Lichtsteiner, Xhaka and Mkhitaryan.
BRIGHTON SUB: Brighton also make a sub as Florin Andone replaces Murray.
SHOT! Brighton almost hit Arsenal with a killer blow as Bissouma wins the ball in midfield and gives it to Bernardo, who fires a powerful effort wide of the near post.
Brighton will be expecting this final 10 minutes to be all Arsenal as they look for the breakthrough needed to take this top-four challenge down to the final day.
YELLOW CARD! Guendouzi picks up a yellow card for going down and then grabbing the ball expecting a free kick, only to be penalised for a handball instead! Correct decision.
SHOT! Brighton win the ball back high up the pitch and Bissouma fires off target from range. Mustafi picks up a yellow card for his anger at a foul not being given.
CHANCE! A lifeline for Arsenal as Brighton somehow fail to get a winning from point-blank range! A cross to the far post is met by March and he nods it towards goal, but cannot squeeze it in and the ball bounces across to Gross. From there he really should convert the rebound, but can only fire it across the face of goal again!
Kolasinac hangs a ball up into the box and Aubameyang is inches away from meeting it with a header from a really good position!
Crucial defending from Duffy as he flies into a sliding challenge inside his own area and times it to perfection!
There will be three minutes of added time at the end of this match!
BRIGHTON SUB: Hughton - the former Tottenham man - winds the clock down with a late sub as Gross is replaced by Beram Kayal.
FULL TIME: ARSENAL 1-1 BRIGHTON
It is utter despair for Arsenal are their hopes of finishing in the top four are effectively ended by this 1-1 draw with Brighton, leaving the Europa League as their only realistic route into next season's Champions League now.
It looked as though the Gunners might at least take it to the final day after PIerre-Emerick Aubameyang gave them the lead with a controversial penalty, but Glenn Murray also converted from the spot in the second half to rescue a point from the visitors.
Right, that is all we have time for this evening!
Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for today's Premier League clash as Arsenal are held to a costly draw by Brighton, all but ending their top-four hopes. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for reaction too.
From me, though, it is goodbye for now!