Emery warns Arsenal to expect another physical test at Brighton
Victory on Boxing Day could see the Gunners move into the Premier League top four.
Unai Emery expects Brighton to pose a similar physical challenge to Burnley as the Arsenal head coach aims for a Boxing Day victory at the AMEX Stadium.
The Gunners secured a 3-1 win over Burnley on Saturday with striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored twice, claiming he had never played in a game that was as feisty.
There were a number of flashpoints and Clarets boss Sean Dyche afterwards claimed that Arsenal players had dived during what proved to be a fairly hot-tempered afternoon.
The win was enough to take Arsenal level on points with fourth-placed Chelsea and Emery expects Brighton to offer a similar challenge to his players.
“Brighton is the same, a very tough match physically, very organised and, like with Burnley, a very good coach who is working very well.
“It is a challenge and I respect those teams a lot because they also have good players. They decide to do a line-up with physical players with a lot of crosses for the strikers for heading in our box.
“We need to defend very far in our box to defend better against that.”
The challenge for Arsenal, who lost to Chris Hughton’s Seagulls on the south-coast last season, is made more difficult due to a defensive injury crisis.
Emery could be without as many as five defenders for the trip to the AMEX as he continues to turn to the likes of Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichtsteiner to fill in at centre-back.
Rob Holding, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Hector Bellerin are out and have been joined on the sidelines by Nacho Monreal, who limped off against Burnley with a muscular problem.
Emery can turn to captain Laurent Koscielny, who has just returned from a seven-month injury lay-off and will also be hopeful that Shkodran Mustafi can be involved following a hamstring issue.