Unai Emery warns Arsenal to expect another physical test at Brighton after feisty Burnley clash

Unai Emery has told his Arsenal players to expect Brighton to pose a similar physical challenge to Burnley on Boxing Day.

The Gunners claimed a 3-1 victory over Burnley at the Emirates on Saturday with striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored twice, claiming he had never played in a game that was as feisty.

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Arsenal’s clash with Burnley had a number of flashpoints

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 believes Brighton will provide a similarly bruising test at the Amex Stadium.

“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.

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Granit Xhaka is set to operate as a central defender on Boxing Day

Rob Holding, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Hector Bellerin are out but Nacho Monreal could recover from a hamstring issue which forced him off in the win at Burnley.

Emery can turn to captain Laurent Koscielny, who has just returned from a seven-month injury lay-off, with Shkodran Mustafi set to return to training this week following a hamstring injury.

There was no such good news for winger Henrikh Mkhitaryan, with club confirming on Monday that the Armenia international is set for six weeks on the sidelines with a foot problem.

The 29-year-old will miss league games against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City as Arsenal look to seal a place in the top four.

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