ARSENAL ended 2022 on a high as they put four past Brighton to move seven points clear at the top of the Premier League.
The League leaders had the chance to widen the gap over Manchester City thanks to their draw with Everton earlier in the day.
And the Gunners wasted no time in doing so, as Bukayo Saka fired them ahead after just 66 seconds, collecting Gabriel Martinelli’s deflected cross before finishing past Robert Sanchez.
Mikel Arteta’s side were in full control throughout the first half and deservedly doubled their lead six minutes before the break.
Billy Gilmour’s weak header away from a corner fell to Martin Odegaard whose effort was directed straight into the ground, looping over Adam Lallana and in.
Eddie Nketiah made it three just two minutes after the restart, on his toes to tap in after Sanchez had fumbled a shot from Martinelli.
Japan international Kaoru Mitoma got one back for the Seagulls but the Gunners quickly hit back with Martinelli capping his superb performance with a fine goal on the break.
Evan Ferguson bagged his first Premier League goal from the bench with the Arsenal defence sliced apart by a long ball, but the three points were long gone by then.
Here is how SunSport rated the Gunners…
Aaron Ramsdale – 6
Could have been more aggressive to prevent Brighton’s second having been stitched up by his defenders. Little he could have done to stop Mitoma’s goal.
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Ben White – 7
Showed some sharp footwork at the back on his return to The Amex and did well up against the dangerous Mitoma.
William Saliba – 5
All over the show for Ferguson’s goal, caught out too easily by a long ball forward and was out of position a little for Brighton’s first.
Gabriel – 6
A leader at the back and always happy to defend on the front foot.
Oleksandr Zinchenko – 7
Brings so much composure to Arsenal on the ball and is a vocal organiser off it. Arteta will need to keep him fit going forward.
Thomas Partey – 8
Won the ball to get Arsenal going for their early goal and dominated Brighton’s makeshift midfield throughout.
Granit Xhaka – 6
A calming presence in midfield whenever Brighton looked like putting some pressure on the visitors.
Martin Odegaard – 8
A creative presence throughout and was in the right place at the right time to grab his goal with a very smart finish, whether it was intentional or not.
Leading by example for the Gunners.
Bukayo Saka – 7
Superb touch and finish for the opening goal, his sixth of the season in the Premier League.
Gabriel Martinelli – 9
Superb performance from the Brazilian. A constant danger to Tariq Lamptey down the left and more than deserved his goal.
Eddie Nketiah – 7
Despite being known as a poacher, as his goal showed, Nketiah is a strong presence when leading the line, happy to battle with much bigger defenders.
Kieran Tierney (for Zinchenko, 60mins) 6
Snuffed out all attempts from Solly March to get in down Arsenal’s left.
Takehiro Tomiyasu (for White, 60mins) 5
Lost track of Mitoma shortly after coming on, allowing his compatriot to get one back for Brighton.
Mohamed Elneny (for Partey, 74mins) 6
Kept things ticking over to just about see out the win safely.