Arsenal vs Brighton: Wanted man Moises Caicedo has tools to scupper Premier League title dream for the Gunners
Another Sunday, another game where it is win or bust for Arsenal in the title race.
With three matches to go, the Gunners trail Manchester City by one point and Pep Guardiola’s side have a game in hand.
Arsenal’s aim is to win all of their remaining games, starting at home to Brighton on Sunday. After that they travel to Nottingham Forest before hosting Wolves on the final day.
The Gunners will have to hope City slip up twice during their final four matches against Everton - which kicks off two-and-a-half hours before Arsenal on Sunday - Chelsea, Brighton and Brentford.
The fact Brighton play both Arsenal and City means they will have a big say in where the title ends up.
The Seagulls have enjoyed a brilliant season since Roberto De Zerbi replaced Graham Potter in September.
Even after Monday’s shock 5-1 defeat at home to Everton, they are seventh in the table and on course to qualify for Europe.
Brighton have been a bogey team for Arsenal over the years and the Gunners have won just one of their last five home games against them in all competitions.
Until their 4-2 victory over them at the Amex Stadium on New Year’s Eve, Brighton were also just one of three teams that Arsenal had lost more Premier League games against than they’d won.
Arteta is an admirer of De Zerbi and followed his progress at both Shakhtar Donetsk and Sassuolo.
The Spaniard has noticed how De Zerbi is implementing a similar style at Brighton, with his side looking to lure teams into pressing them by building from the back. Brighton then flood forward, creating overloads with underlapping and overlapping runs that can leave defences overwhelmed.
It is a unique style, which basically has Brighton combining possession-based football with counter attacks.
Arteta will take heart from Arsenal’s victory over Brighton on New Year’s Eve, but that was a Seagulls side lacking key midfielders Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo.
The pair are vital to making De Zerbi’s plan work and he will be delighted they are available this weekend.
The midfield will be a key battle on Sunday and, until last week, it was an area Arsenal had been struggling in.
The control that was such a theme of their fine form at the start of the season had disappeared, with Arteta eventually opting to drop Thomas Partey.
Jorginho has started the last two games and should keep his place this weekend, particularly after his Man-of-the-Match outing at Newcastle.
Long term, though, Arsenal are looking to bolster their midfield this summer and Sunday’s game has the intriguing sub-plot of the Gunners being admirers of Caicedo and Mac Allister.
They failed with two bids for Caicedo in January, the second of which was £70million, and he remains on their radar ahead of this summer’s transfer window.
Mac Allister has been scouted by Arsenal and several other Premier League clubs, with Liverpool currently leading the race for him.
Arsenal’s No1 midfield target is West Ham captain Declan Rice, but they are eyeing further reinforcements.
Arteta will see first-hand on Sunday what Caicedo and Mac Allister bring. Caicedo has established himself as one of the most destructive midfielders in the League and only Fulham’s Joao Palhinha has made more tackles this season.
Mac Allister, meanwhile, has elevated his game since helping Argentina won the World Cup and this is the first season of his career he has hit double figures for goals.
Arsenal’s midfield looked back to its best at Newcastle, with Granit Xhaka and Martin Odegaard excelling alongside Jorginho.
Odegaard has scored three goals in his last two games, while Xhaka has sacrificed getting forward to help out Arsenal’s defence.
Along with Jorginho, the trio have helped get Arsenal’s title charge back on track.
Brighton, however, have the tools to knock them off course again.