ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Brighton & Hove Albion 0
LONDON • The Wenger Out Brigade scare easily but they will be back. And in greater numbers.
For now, it is a time for Arsenal to enjoy a period of tranquillity and positivity. To continue the Star Wars theme, the force is with them, at present.
Manager Arsene Wenger is only one bad result from again hearing the yells for his head but that never felt likely yesterday at the Emirates Stadium, where his side beat Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0, with his team in control from the first whistle.
But for some heroic defending from Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk, the scoreline could have been bigger.
Wenger rarely fluffs his lines against newly promoted teams.
The last such club to win at the Emirates was Newcastle United in 2010 - who were then managed by Chris Hughton, the Brighton manager - and Arsenal coasted to victory on the back of a rare goal from Nacho Monreal and a second-half strike by Alex Iwobi.
Brighton looked tidy enough and they finished with their heads up. But they never carried enough of a threat to make the game competitive.
GREAT PRESENCE OF MIND
I didn't think Alexis would find me but it shows the skill he has. He is capable of doing anything. To have eyes in the back of his head and backheel to me was amazing.
ALEX IWOBI, crediting Arsenal team-mate Alexis Sanchez's vision and execution for their second goal.
"It was a spirited performance. I can't accuse the lads of not giving everything," said Hughton.
"The only disappointment is that we could have shown a little more on the ball and been a little more adventurous."
Wenger made nine changes from the side that excelled in the Europa League on Thursday but Arsenal started at the same high-octane level. After Alexandre Lacazette hit the post in the second minute, they took the lead on 16 minutes when Monreal struck the ball firmly through a sea of bodies.
The goal was only the Spaniard's second in the league - and first for more than four years.
Without the suspended forward Tomer Hemed, Brighton posed a limited attacking threat.
A moment of brilliance from Alexis Sanchez, who backheeled the ball deftly in the penalty area, set up the second goal for Iwobi on 56 minutes as Arsenal's pace and movement found their reward.
"I didn't think Alexis would find me but it shows the skill he has," said Iwobi.
"He is capable of doing anything. To have eyes in the back of his head and backheel to me was amazing."
When Arsenal headed for the last international break, at the end of August, their heads were ringing after the 4-0 defeat by Liverpool and there was uncertainty over several players in the final days of the transfer window.
This time, they can reflect on a run of three wins and a draw in the Premier League - with clean sheets in each game.
"We kept the clean sheet and of course got three points. We have played more fluently than today but playing Monday, Thursday and today, it was important to get three points," said Wenger, who celebrated the 21st anniversary of his arrival at Arsenal in winning style.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE