LONDON — Arsenal celebrated the 21st anniversary of Arsene Wenger’s appointment by easily beating Brighton 2-0 in the Premier League on Sunday.
Alex Iwobi was set up by Alexis Sanchez’s back-heel to double Arsenal’s lead at the start of the second half after Nacho Monreal’s opener.
“It was a great team play,” Iwobi told the BBC. “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 back-heel to me was amazing.”
Arsenal, without a league title since 2004, extended its unbeaten run in all competitions to seven matches to move up to fifth in the standings. The north London club is six points adrift of the early pacesetters — Manchester rivals City and United.
Brighton is six points behind Arsenal in 14th place after seven matches of its first top-flight campaign in 34 years.
Facing a Brighton team lacking impetus without a single striker on the pitch, Arsenal did not have to overexert itself to see off the south-coast side at the Emirates Stadium.
The visitors’ plan looked to be to absorb and frustrate but Arsenal could have been ahead within three minutes as Alexandre Lacazette lashed a half-volley against the post.
It prompted a relentless spell of early pressure and just after a quarter of an hour, Brighton cracked.
Lacazette was fouled by Jose Izquierdo on the right side of the box and then kept the resulting cross alive by heading the ball back in off the line. As Brighton’s defenders claimed for a goal-kick, Shkodran Mustafi and Hector Bellerin had shots blocked before Monreal finally found space to poke in his first league goal since March 2013 in the 16th minute.
Forced to attack, Brighton was far better from then on and could even have gone in level at half time.
An impressively choreographed free-kick between Pascal Gross, Dale Stephens and Solly March ended with the latter crashing a long-range drive against goalkeeper Petr Cech’s post and Davy Propper curled over from close range just before the interval.
In between, Arsenal had looked dangerous on the counter and the match became less even. It was little surprise when Iwobi doubled the hosts’ advantage with a vintage Arsenal goal 11 minutes into the second half.
Iwobi began the move with a pass inside to Sanchez. Sanchez fired the ball to Lacazette who in turn fed Aaron Ramsey. Ramsey popped the ball back into the path of Sanchez, who held off a swarm of Brighton defenders before digging out a superb back-heel to free Iwobi. He slammed the finish past goalkeeper Mathew Ryan.
Sanchez was almost unplayable in the latter stages and twice could have scored himself but for a pair of tame finishes. Wenger, who was hired by Arsenal on Oct. 1 1996, will hope there is more to come.
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