Unai Emery quickly apologised after accidentally kicking a water bottle in the direction of a Brighton supporter.
He will be more sorry Arsenal didn’t take their chances when they had them here at the Amex Stadium.
Having taken an early lead through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal should have coasted to three points. Instead, they had to settle for a point after Jurgen Locadia made them pay for their first-half profligacy.
Jurgen Locadia secured a Boxing Day point for Brighton as his strike saw visitors Arsenal lose ground on their top four rivals
The 25-year-old was on hand to capitalise on a mistake at the back from the Gunners as he poked the ball past Bernd Leno
It had been a dream start for the Gunners when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang found the top corner after just seven minutes
The Gabon striker is in fine form and the strike was his 13th goal so far this season in the league but they could not build on it
And, by the end, it was Brighton who were in the ascendancy. And Emery’s frustration was laid bare in the closing stages as he took his anger out on a water bottle – only for it land near a fan.
There was no malice in the Spaniard’s actions. Maybe if his side had shown greater intent, they would have left with three points.
The first half was all about Brighton’s power of recovery. On reflection, Arsenal should have been home and hosed by half-time.
Both managers were in good spirits before the match as they looked to give their supporters something to cheer about
There was plenty of festive cheer in the stands as one Brighton supporter donned a Santa hat and jumper for the match
But while there was plenty of optimism in the home end, it was the visitors who sparked into life first thanks to Aubameyang
Even before Aubameyang handed them a seventh minute lead Arsenal would have been ahead had it not been for Mat Ryan’s excellence in the home goal.
The Brighton goalkeeper’s second minute save to deny the Gabon striker’s clever looping effort from Matteo Guendouzi’s simple ball over the top provided an early sign of things to come.
The opener, when it arrived was clinical – Aubameyang smashing past Ryan with a vicious right-footed effort following tenacious build-up play from strike partner Alexandre Lacazette.
Emery – who handed Mesut Ozil another chance to resurrect his flagging Arsenal career – clenched his fist.
MATCH FACTS, RATINGS, TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
Brighton (4-5-1): Ryan 7.5, Montoya 6.5, Duffy 7, Balogun 7, Bernardo 7; March 7, Gross 7, Stephens 6.5, Propper 7, Locadia 7 (Knockeart 86); Murray 6.5 (Andone 79).
Subs not used: Button, Bruno, Bong, Kayal, Bissouma.
Goals: Locadia (35)
Booked: Montoya, Murray.
Manager: Chris Hughton
Arsenal (4-1-2-1-2): Leno 6; Lichtsteiner 5, Sokratis 6.5, Koscielny 6.5 (Maitland-Niles 70(, Kolasinac 6.5; Xhaka 6.5; Torreira 6.5, Guendouzi 7; Ozil 5 (Iwobi 46, 6), Aubameyang 7, Lacazette 6 (Ramsey 62, 6).
Subs not used: Cech, Elneny,Nketiah, Willock.
Goals: Aubameyang (7)
Manager: Unai Emery
Referee: Anthony Taylor
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The Gabonese is full of confidence as his pace and power caused havoc for Brighton in the early stages at the AMEX stadium
But after Aubameyang’s opener it was all Brighton and Glenn Murray was convinced he had poked home to make it 1-1
Both sides were left appealing – Brighton for the goal, Arsenal for the foul – as referee Anthony Taylor had to make the decision
This was the Arsenal manager’s first taste of football over the festive period; Aubameyang’s goal certainly made working at Christmas far easier to bear.
Arsenal were purring; Brighton’s players looked like they’d indulged in one too many Turkey sandwiches the night before.
But Hughton’s side, as they so often do, hung in there. Clung on for dear life.
They were certainly clutching at straws in the 25th minute when they were claiming an equaliser, even though Glenn Murray had clearly kicked the ball out of Bernd Leno’s hands.
Five minutes later, Solly March set-up the Brighton striker only for Leno to produce a relatively comfortable save.
In the end the referee sided with Unai Emery’s Gunners and felt Murray had kicked the ball out of the German stopper’s hands
But that flashpoint was not the end for Brighton as pressure eventually told when Locadia scored in front of the away fans
There were big smiles and wild celebrations from the Brighton players after their hard work saw them get a foothold in the tie
One minute later, however, Arsenal should have doubled their advantage. There was no intricate science behind the opportunity – just a simple ball over the top from Lucas Torreira into the Aubameyang’s path.
It looked for all the world that the Arsenal striker would double his tally; he didn’t bank on Ryan, however, who produced a brilliant instinctive save.
The stop proved pivotal as just four minutes later Brighton were level.
Davy Propper long raking pass into the Arsenal half was more hopeful than accurate – but somehow Stephan Lichtsteiner made an utter calamity of dealing with it.
The former Juventus star should have simply nodded away, instead he got himself caught under the ball. Locadia gobbled up the opportunity, rounding Leno before stroking into an empty net.
The AMEX erupted. You’d imagine there’d have been a similar reaction from Emery at half-time.
Frustration was the overriding feeling thereafter for Arsenal as midfielder Matteo Guendouzi bemoaned a cynical foul on him
The equaliser buoyed Brighton and they kept their foot on the gas as they went in search of a late winner in front of their fans
Arsenal had to remain disciplined and organised as they did not want to lose ground on top four rivals following their results
Having taken this game by the scruff of the neck, Arsenal were punished for coasting – taking their foot off the gas.
Emery responded by hauling off Mesut Ozil at half-time, replacing the German with Alex Iwobi.
Ozil was brilliant on against Burnley on Saturday. Four days later he exactly why Emery does not trust him on tough away days.
Yet more doubt cast over the Arsenal No 10’s future at the club – not that the substitution sparked the Gunners into action.
Brighton, buoyed by their leveller, roared into the second half – March’s long ranger turned round the post by Leno in the 50th minute before Propper snatched at an excellent chance after being set-up by Locadia.
Emery made another change in the 62nd minute – introducing Aaron Ramsey for Lacazette, who looked far from happy from being hooked again.
Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey was brought on to spark some life into an ailing Arsenal but in the end he proved ineffective
Emery cut a bemused figure in the second half as he hauled Mesut Ozil off and switched systems to regain control of the game
Alexandre Lacazette (Second from left, back row) was visibly annoyed at being substituted with the game so finely poised
But Emery needed to intervene, his side a shadow of the team that started this encounter in intense fashion.
In the 76th minute, March fluffed his lines in front of goal before Locadia flashed a shot narrowly wide as Brighton pushed for a late winner.
By now Arsenal were ragged in defence and laboured in attack. Like Brighton in the first half, they were hanging on.
But the Gunners nearly scored a flukey winner in the 84th minute when March’s attempted clearance ricocheted off Iwobi and narrowly past Ryan’s post.