Another game, another horrible injury, another horrendous Arsenal defeat – one that surely ends any chances of Champions League football next season.
In the space of three days, Mikel Arteta has lost three players to serious injuries: losing Granit Xhaka, Pablo Mari and now, Bernd Leno, who was stretchered off in Saturday’s devastating 2-1 loss at Brighton.
The German goalkeeper, arguably Arsenal’s player of the season, twisted his knee in horrific style after being needlessly shoved by Brighton striker Neal Maupay as he came to claim a loose ball on the edge of the box.
Neal Maupay was a controversial hero as relegation-threatened Brighton and Hove Albion came from behind to earn a 2-1 win over Arsenal at the Amex Stadium.
Maupay was at the centre of a grim first-half incident, where a coming together with Bernd Leno resulted in the Arsenal goalkeeper suffering a serious-looking knee injury.
Arsenal hit the front through a sumptuous Nicolas Pepe strike in the 68th minute but lackadaisical defending from a short corner worked by Solly March and Yves Bissouma allowed Lewis Dunk to equalise seven minutes later.
In the fifth minute of stoppage time, Maupay dummied and darted on to a clever flicked pass from substitute Aaron Connolly to produce a similarly classy finish – moving Albion five points clear of the bottom three and leaving the Gunners’ Champions League hopes in tatters.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was unable to hook an early cross from the recalled Pepe on target before Bukayo Saka fired a rasping 20-yarder against the crossbar amid a lively start from the visitors.
Dunk produced a last-ditch tackle to thwart Alexandre Lacazette – who would be similarly denied by Aaron Webster before half-time – and the France striker drew an excellent 31st-minute save from Mat Ryan, with Saka the provider for his improvised diving header.
All concerns were soon with Ryan’s opposite number Leno, who was furious with Maupay as he left the field on a stretcher.
Replacement goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez was alert to beat away a close-range Maupay strike at his near post before Ryan continued to enjoy supremacy in his duel with Aubameyang.
The Australia international had no chance when Pepe thrillingly came to the party, but after Dunk capitalised on Arsenal’s mindless defending, Ryan kept out a fiercely swerving Aubameyang attempt.
And there was a sting in the tail as Alexis Mac Allister linked in slick fashion with Connolly and Maupay did the rest, before finding himself at the centre of an incensed Arsenal melee that showed scant regard for social distancing at the final whistle.
Brighton (4-2-3-1): Ryan; Schelotto (Montoya 71′), Webster, Dunk, Burn; Propper, Bissouma (Mac Allister 90+4′); Mooy (March 45′), Gross (Connolly 71′), Trossard (Stephens 87′); Maupay
Subs not used: Lamptey, Duffy, Murray, Button
Booked: Burn, Mooy
Goals: Dunk 75′, Maupay 90+5′
Arsenal (4-3-3): Leno (Martinez 40); Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Kolasinac; Guendouzi, Saka (Tierney 87′), Ceballos (Willock 88′); Pepe (Nelson 87′), Lacazette (Nketiah 78′), Aubameyang
Subs not used: Ozil, Maitland-Niles, Martinelli, Medley
Goal: Pepe 68′
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Man of the Match: Saka