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Brighton & Hove Albion vs Arsenal Odds, Pick | Premier League Match Preview

Brighton & Hove Albion vs Arsenal Odds, Pick | Premier League Match Preview article feature image
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DeFodi Images/Getty. Pictured: Mikel Arteta.

Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Arsenal Odds

Saturday, Dec. 31
12:30 p.m. ET
NBC
Brighton Odds +250
Arsenal Odds +105
Draw +250
Over/Under 2.5 (-118 / -104)
Both Teams to Score (Yes/No) (-148 / +116)
Odds via DraftKings. Get up to the minute soccer odds here.

Arsenal overcame a halftime deficit on Boxing Day at home against West Ham to maintain their five-point lead atop the Premier League table.

The Gunners will be top of the table on New Year’s regardless of their result when they visit Brighton & Hove Albion on the English south coast on Saturday. Arsenal will once again be without Gabriel Jesus at striker, but Mikel Arteta’s side has still scored at least one goal in every PL match this season.

Brighton hasn’t skipped a beat under new manager Roberto De Zerbi, and the Seagulls sit confidently in seventh following a Boxing Day triumph against Southampton. Brighton are a notorious thorn in the side of the big six clubs in the last calendar year and they took four points off the Gunners in two meetings last season.

Arsenal have been the second best team in the league by underlying numbers, but is now the time to sell high on them as they enter a difficult stretch of fixtures?

Brighton Effectively Using Tactics to Execute

Under De Zerbi, Brighton are excellent at using passive possession to invite a press by the opponent. Then, they break through that press with quick passing to create space in behind. They will absolutely test this improved Arsenal transition defense.

The Seagulls’ defense has conceded just 1.03 xGA per match at home this season, which is fourth-best in the league behind only Manchester City, Arsenal and Newcastle. Brighton are top five in just about every defensive metric from touches allowed in the box to crosses allowed to big scoring chances and total shots.

They do a really good job of stopping the ball and don’t allow teams to easily play progressive passes. Arsenal haven’t been nearly as dominant away from home this season and the matches where they’ve shown cracks in transition defense are at Leeds, at Manchester United and at Southampton.

The Seagulls will use their double pivot to counteract Arsenal’s, which makes this a natural way of De Zerbi neutralizing potential Arsenal advantages in the midfield areas.

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Arsenal Finding Ways to Score and Win

The lackluster first half against the Hammers on Monday showed the impact of not having Jesus in the lineup. Eddie Nketiah is a decent striker, but he’s not nearly as involved in the build-up phase as Jesus. He’s also not as good dribbling and controlling possession in tight spaces.

Even though Arsenal weren’t as sharp, Martin Odegaard eventually had too much time on the ball in dangerous areas and he picked apart the passive Hammers defense.

Brighton won’t be nearly as passive out of possession at home. They’re excellent disruptors of opposition possession structures and most importantly, the Seagulls are good at retaining the ball and playing through a counter-press when they win the ball from opponents.

The biggest improvement for the Gunners this season has been their ability to stop transitions against them and immediately win the ball back from other teams. Instead of losing the ball and conceding chances, Arsenal’s defense has improved by winning the ball back before the opponent can start the attack.

They’ve tilted the field even more on their opponents, kept a higher defensive line and gotten more production from their wide attackers — Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka.

Arsenal have run pretty well in the finishing department with 36 goals from about 28 xG. Regression looms for them and the attack should be marginally worse without Jesus.

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Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Arsenal Pick

The Gunners will face a much stiffer challenge for midfield control and possession in this game at Brighton than they did at home versus West Ham. We’re reaching the top of the market on Arsenal too as conversations of a possible league title emerge. 

Arsenal rank third in expected threat differential, which measures the difference in possession in dangerous areas and attacking chances that don’t necessarily always lead to shot attempts.

That’s impressive and only behind Liverpool and Manchester City. The Seagulls actually rank fourth in this metric, which is a sign of how good they’ve been at tilting the field against their opponents under both Graham Potter and Roberto De Zerbi. 

Brighton have been a difficult side to overwhelm because they’re so good on the ball and can disrupt Arsenal’s possession structure. Arsenal do have a solid edge on set pieces in the matchup, but the Seagulls are too good to be catching half of a goal at home. 

I like Brighton +0.5 at -140 or better and the Seagulls are live to get a result.

Pick: Brighton +0.5 (-140 or better)

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