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Arteta demands reaction against Brighton as Arsenal look to reignite top-four bid

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Mikel Arteta urged Arsenal to respond against Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday after a shabby performance at Crystal Palace slowed their Champions League push.

The Gunners had surged into top-four contention, but an underwhelming outing at Selhurst Park in a 3-0 reverse on Monday condemned them to a second loss in their last three Premier League games (W1), having lost just one of their previous 11 (W9 D1).

North London rivals Tottenham, who cruised past Newcastle United 5-1 on Sunday, occupy the final place in England’s top four, though they are level on points with Arteta’s side, who have a game in hand.

Manager Arteta called for a reaction from his team when they host Brighton, who have not defeated, or even scored against, Arsenal in their last three league meetings.

“Monday is gone. We’re looking forward to playing in front of our fans,” Arteta said in a pre-match news conference on Friday.

“We have to play better and we have to compete much better than we did on Monday. [The setback] has happened and it’s happened with nine games to go, and we have to react now.

“We have to show tomorrow the energy, the commitment and the passion that we want to play the game tomorrow in front of our fans. Embrace the challenge.”

Matters were made worse against Patrick Vieira’s side after it was confirmed Kieran Tierney could miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, and Thomas Partey continues to be monitored for a thigh problem that will keep him out for “some weeks”.

“You lost, now you want to win, it’s hurting and it’s still hurting. We lost two big players, two really important players for us for sure,” Arteta said.

“But whenever that happens you can’t cry for it because they are not going to be available for us. So we have to find other solutions, and we have to be as good and as competitive as we have been.”

Nuno Tavares was hooked off at half-time as he endured a torrid outing at left-back against Palace, with Jordan Ayew’s strike a combination of his and Gabriel Magalhaes’ fault through miscommunication.

However, Arteta assured the young Portugal defender he will bounce back from his mistakes.

“Throughout your career you have to go through difficult moments, and he’s had some really good periods since he arrived at the club, and he was playing many more minutes than he was probably expecting,” Arteta said of Tavares.

“That’s the life of a player, especially at that age. There’s ups and downs, and we are here to try and help him and make his career better, and that’s what we’re going to do.

“He is ready and he is willing, and he will be disappointed, but it’s part of the job and we have to make decisions to try to win football matches. There is nothing personal there.”

Crucial to Arsenal’s hopes against Brighton will be the performance of Alexandre Lacazette, who has not scored from open play in any of his last 16 appearances across all competitions.

That amounts to 22 hours and 28 minutes without an open-play goal for the former Lyon striker since his last against Southampton in December, but Arteta expressed his support.

“Laca’s contribution to the team in many other ways has been phenomenal,” Arteta said.

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