Brighton & Hove Albion continue the festive period with the visit of Arsenal on Boxing Day, kick-off 5.15pm, and Chris Hughton’s side will be looking to replicate their victory over the Gunners from last season.
The Seagulls overcame the north London club 2-1 at the Amex Stadium back in March, when goals from Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray secured Albion’s first victory over one of the Premier League’s top six.
Albion have taken six points from their five games so far this month, but three consecutive defeats lead into Wednesday’s match at the Amex, most recently losing 2-0 at AFC Bournemouth over the weekend.
The Gunners strung together 22 unbeaten games before losing to Southampton at St Mary’s, but Unai Emery’s team bounced back with a 3-1 win against Burnley last time out.
Hughton confirmed that Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Jose Izquierdo will miss Wednesday’s match at the Amex, while Lewis Dunk will serve his one-game suspension after being sent off against the Cherries.
Albion defender Shane Duffy will return to the side after serving his three-game suspension, and the Irishman is expected to slot in alongside Leon Balogun in the heart of defence.
Nacho Monreal, Hector Bellerin, Sead Kolasinac and Shkodran Mustafi are all injury doubts for the Gunners, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Danny Welbeck and Rob Holding are all expected to miss the match.
The Seagulls opened December with back-to-back victories over Huddersfield Town and Crystal Palace, but three defeats have followed for Hughton’s men, who occupy 13th position in the league table.
Albion mounted an improved second-half performance against Chelsea at the Amex to halve the deficit, thanks to Solly March’s goal, but Maurizio Sarri’s side saw off pressure to deny the Seagulls from taking points.
Hughton’s side travelled to the Vitality Stadium in their last fixture, and a David Brooks double made the difference, either side of Dunk being sent off for two yellow cards.
The Gunners opened December with a memorable 4-2 win over local rivals Tottenham Hotspur, before a 2-2 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Emery’s side then sealed a narrow 1-0 victory over Huddersfield at the Emirates Stadium — but Southampton found the back of the net three times to win the game when Arsenal visited St Mary’s.
Aubameyang fired a brace and Alex Iwobi netted late on for the Gunners last time out, after Ashley Barnes had given the Clarets a glimmer of hope on their visit to north London.
LAST TIME WE MET
After going seven matches without taking a point against the Premier League’s top six, the Seagulls recorded a memorable 2-1 victory over Arsenal on the south coast.
Dunk fired home his first Premier League goal to put Albion ahead after just seven minutes, before Murray met Pascal Gross’s cross with a superb header to double the advantage.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pulled a goal back shortly before the break, but Albion were able to defend their one-goal lead in the second half to seal maximum points.
LAST TIME OUT: ALBION
AFC BOURNEMOUTH 2
Brooks 21, 77
Albion line-up: Ryan; Montoya, Balogun, Dunk, Bernardo; March, Propper, Bissouma; Gross (Bong 76), Locadia (Knockaert 70), Andone (Murray 80).
Subs not used: Steele (GK) Bruno, Kayal, Stephens.
LAST TIME OUT: ARSENAL
Aubameyang 14, 48
Arsenal line-up: Leno; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Monreal (Lichtsteiner, 37), Kolasinac; Guendouzi, Elneny (Torreira 59), Xhaka; Ozil Lacazette (Iwobi 78), Aubameyang.
Subs not used: Cech (GK), Ramsey, Nketiah, Saka.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
The striker hit the ground running after signing for the Gunners back in January, scoring ten goals in his opening 13 Premier League matches under Arsene Wenger.
But with Emery now at the helm, the 29-year-old's form has continued, leaving him as the league's top goalscorer after 18 matches, after finding the back of the net 12 times.
The forward has netted twice in four separate matches throughout the season, while also assisting three goals for his team-mates, helping Arsenal to fifth position in the league table.
Back in October, Aubameyang came off the bench in consecutive games to net braces against Fulham and Leicester City — with his pace and clinical finishing proving dangerous in the later stages of games.