Albion 2, Arsenal 1

This stirring victory was not just a big six breakthrough for Albion.

It was also their coming of age moment in the Premier League.

An authentic win achieved with a powerful first half performance and well-managed second half in protecting a lead with few serious alarms.

Against an Arsenal team that will not be that far removed from the one Arsene Wenger sends out in the last 16 of the Europa League away to AC Milan on Thursday evening.

That is the last route to silverware for the Gunners, to salvaging a season that is falling apart.

The respect Albion have now earned from a club with the gravitas of the Gunners was demonstrated by the side Wenger selected.

It showed only three changes to the line-up that made a better first of trying to compete against Manchester City in the Premier League at the Emirates two-and-a-half days beforehand than at Wembley in the Carabao Cup final the previous Sunday.

Those successive 3-0 defeats will have been draining both physically and emotionally, yet Wenger knew he could not afford to take chances against Albion.

That shows how far they have come since they were comfortably swatted aside at the Emirates in October.

The beleaguered Frenchman was right too. Albion contrastingly showed Arsenal no respect, exploiting their desperate run of form and defensive fragility with ruthless efficiency.

The Seagulls have the worst record in the Premier League for conceding and scoring goals from corners.

It took them only six minutes to improve this aspect of their armoury with a routine manufactured on the training ground by Chris Hughton to expose Arsenal's flimsy zonal marking.

The Argus: Shane Duffy won an aerial duel with Petr Cech at the far post for Dunk (second right above) to half-volley in from six yards.

Arsenal were a mess at the back. It could have got worse for them before it actually did, Cech denying Anthony Knockaert.

The second goal duly arrived in the 26th minute. The defending was horrible again, the source and execution familiar by now to Albion supporters.

Gross's inviting cross was headed down and under the hapless Cech by Glenn Murray, rising unmarked between Shkodran Mustafi and Calum Chambers.

Murray's form right now is sensational. Six goals this year is bettered only by Mo Salah and Sergio Aguero.

A rendition of "Murray for England" from the Amex faithful is unlikely to be answered in the affirmative by Gareth Southgate, but he produced another talismanic target man display.

Murray (below) made the most sprints during the match, which raised a chuckle. Released with a free run at goal from deep in the second half, he knew he would not outpace the cover so turned back to rebuild the attack.

The Argus: There is a cleverness to his play that comes with experience. You do not hold your place in a team of Hughton's for long either if you are not prepared to put in a shift.

"We're not the level of team who can afford a striker who stays up front and waits for opportunities," Hughton said. "We need strikers who are prepared to work. "That's what he does. He's a player in really good form at the moment, and someone who should get the credit for it."

Albion were a rampant threat in the opening half-hour. They had nine shots, five on target, and have now scored ten times in a hat-trick of home wins in the Premier League, together with another three against Coventry in the FA Cup.

The defending remains solid and dependable as well, not more than one goal conceded in a game through an undefeated sequence of seven.

Arsenal's reply just before the interval (below) was of the soft variety. Dunk failed to clear and Granit Xhaka passed the ball into the box for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to flick in from close range.

The Argus: Laurent Koscielny hit a post with a header soon after as Albion fleetingly wobbled.

They regained their composure throughout the second half, when Arsenal finally upped their game and pressed for an equaliser, although it fell well short of anything resembling an onslaught.

The Gunners were fortunate to finish with 11 on the pitch. Ezequiel Schelotto was flattened by Sead Kolasinac's shoulder in a shuddering collision and Granit Xhaka dived in search of a penalty when Dale Stephens challenged him inside the box. Both had already been booked by replacement referee Stuart Attwell.

Albion did not need help from the officials. They were too good for Arsenal on their own merits.