Caretaker manager Freddie Ljungberg said Arsenal “did not show up” for the first 45 minutes as the Gunners’ winless streak reached nine games in a 2-1 home defeat to Brighton on Thursday.
Neal Maupay headed in a deserved winner for the Seagulls 10 minutes from time after Alexandre Lacazette had cancelled out Adam Webster’s opener for Brighton.
Defeat leaves Arsenal in 10th place and 10 points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea in the hunt for Champions League qualification next season.
On this evidence there is little chance of Ljungberg landing the job on a permanent basis as another sparse crowd at the Emirates greeted the final whistle with a chorus of boos.
After a 2-2 draw at Norwich on Sunday in the first match since Unai Emery was sacked, there was again no sign of a new manager bounce for Ljungberg’s home bow as Brighton dominated the first 45 minutes and could have gone in at the break more than one goal to the good.
“We did not show up in the first half, we very passive, we didn’t move. We had chat at half-time, made a tactical change and all of a sudden we looked like the team we wanted to for 20 minutes,” said Ljungberg.
Aaron Connolly missed a glorious chance and Bernd Leno denied Maupay and Davy Propper before Brighton deservedly took the lead when Arsenal failed to clear a corner and Webster fired home the loose ball from close range.
Ljungberg’s half-time tinkering did the trick as the hosts came out a different side in the second half.
Lacazette’s looping header brought Arsenal level just five minutes into the second period.