Brighton vs Arsenal preview: Will Mesut Ozil get another chance to shine?
Watch live on Sky Sports Premier League from 5pm on Boxing Day
Last Updated: 26/12/18 5:28pm
Arsenal face a Boxing Day trip to Brighton as they look to maintain their hunt for a top-four spot, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 5pm.
Unai Emery's men beat Burnley 3-1 at the weekend which moved them level on points with Chelsea in fourth.
The win over Burnley coincided with Mesut Ozil captaining the Gunners as he returned to the first-team fold after a spell in the wilderness.
He repaid the faith by playing a big part in the opening goal, finding Sead Kolasinac with a brilliant pass. Emery has a decision to make whether to keep Ozil in the team for the trip to the Amex.
Kolasinac feels Ozil remains an important player for the club.
"With his quality, he brings a lot to this team. He's very important for us as a captain and as a player," Kolasinac said.
"[Unfair criticism] is the case when you're a big star, like Mesut is. Of course there are always negative headlines but, as a team, we don't pay attention to them and Mesut doesn't either. That's what's most important. We're all behind Mesut - all the staff, all the players."
Brighton are looking to avoid a fourth straight defeat after being on the wrong end of results against Burnley, Chelsea and Bournemouth. They've never lost four successive league games in four years under the stewardship of Chris Hughton.
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Shane Duffy will replace Lewis Dunk in central defence. Duffy is available after a three-match ban and steps in for his usual defensive partner Dunk, who is now suspended following his red card against Bournemouth.
Wingers Alireza Jahanbakhsh (hamstring) and Jose Izquierdo (knee) are still out injured.
Arsenal's defensive injury crisis is set to continue on Boxing Day with Unai Emery likely to be without as many as five players for the trip to Brighton.
Rob Holding (knee), Konstantinos Mavropanos (groin), Nacho Monreal (muscular) and Hector Bellerin (calf) are definitely out.
Emery will be hopeful that Shkodran Mustafi can shake off a hamstring issue but playing him would be a risk, while playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan is set to miss six weeks after fracturing a metatarsal in his right foot.
Finally, Danny Welbeck (ankle) is a long-term absentee.
- Brighton have lost five of their last six games against Arsenal in all competitions, however did win the most recent meeting between the two (2-1 in March 2018).
- Arsenal have scored at least two goals in five of their last six games against Brighton in all competitions (W5 L1), netting 14 goals in total.
- Brighton have won each of their last three home games against Arsenal in the top-flight, after losing the first two such meetings.
- Arsenal have kept a clean sheet in six of their 10 games against Brighton in the top-flight, conceding just six goals in total in this run.
- Brighton haven't won any of their last nine league games played on Boxing Day (W0 D3 L6), since beating QPR 1-0 in 2005/06.
- Arsenal have lost just one of their last 13 Premier League played games on Boxing Day (W10 D2), losing 0-4 at Southampton in 2015/16.
- Brighton striker Glenn Murray has scored two goals in 125 minutes played against Arsenal in all competitions (four appearances), including the winner for the Seagulls in this fixture last season (2-1).
At home, Brighton are a different kettle of fish to away from home (although they were a little unlucky to lose at Bournemouth on Saturday), while Arsenal will be buoyant after seeing Chelsea lose. Now all of a sudden, the top four is realistic and I think Arsenal will win this game 3-2.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-3 (25/1 with Sky Bet)