Arsenal 2-1 Brentford: Premier League – 19/02/2022

Given how poorly they started the season, one could be forgiven to see Arsenal fighting for a top 4 place. Having been humiliated on the opening day of the season by Brentford, Mikel Arteta’s side were eager for payback.

Arsenal made only one change from the team that beat Wolves as Emile Smith Rowe came in for the suspended Gabriel Martinelli.

Arsenal started at break-neck speed. Evidently the chance to get themselves into the top 4 was hot on Arsenal’s minds as they threw everything they had at Brentford. However, after a number of chances went begging, the game began to look more and more like the team’s 0-0 draw with Burnley, in which the team created chance after chance after chance, but to no avail.

As with almost every game that Arsenal have this season, there were a number of controversial decisions that did not go Arsenal’s way.

Two consecutive fouls on Benjamin White and Alexandre Lacazette were not deemed appropriate for a penalty and Cédric Soares had an effort that was blocked by an arm, which was also deemed to be within the laws of play by VAR.

Emile Smith Rowe smashes home the opener.

While referee Jonathan Moss had a fairly good game in charge, he was let down by his VAR counter-parts.

The second-half carried on in much the same fashion as the first – total Arsenal dominance. Arsenal controlled the game with a finesse that Manchester City would have been proud.

Arsenal eventually took the lead in the early embers of the second-half when Emile Smith Rowe, played through beautifully by Alexandre Lacazette, broke into the Brentford final-third, took a touch beyond the Brentford defender and bent a stupendous effort into the far corner to open the scoring.

It was a fantastic goal and had the crowd on their feet. It was no more or less than Arsenal merited and they looked to be in total control.

Soon after, Arsenal made some changes, finally introducing Nicolas Pépé into the game and though he had half-hearted shouts for a penalty, but his time, Arsenal were in total control.

Thomas Partey fed the excellent Bukayo Saka, who took a touch and smashed his own effort beyond David Raya to double the host’s lead.

Brentford fought bravely but were unable to ever get out of their own half, such was Arsenal’s pressure. It reminded one forcefully of Arsenal’s wonderful 3-1 win over Aston Villa earlier in the season.

But it didn’t all go Arsenal’s way in the end as Brentford eventually managed to grab one back.

A bit of a mix-up in the Arsenal penalty area led to Christian Nørdgaard breaking free of his marker and lazily smashing his effort home. Bafflingly, VAR spent a very long time looking at the incident, only to them award the goal. Quite what they were checking when no rules or offsides had been broken or breached, we will perhaps never know.

The final whistle gratefully blew and Arsenal could again celebrate another 3 points in the Premier League.

Bukayo Saka celebrates his goal alongside Gabriel Magalhães.

It was a fantastic performance from Arsenal overall. A real shame that they did not manage to keep a clean sheet through it all, but a very good effort from the team overall.

The performance of Martin Ødegaard is sure to have heads turned. The Norwegian attacker has been consistently excellent for a while now, but his performance against Brentford was borderline unplayable. He was popping up all over the pitch, threading the ball through the eye of a needle at a moment’s notice and his dribbling was equally impressive. Ødegaard’s impressive pairing with goalscorer Bukayo Saka was very encouraging to see as well.

A more unsung performance of the day was seen also from Granit Xhaka. A truly wonderful performance from the Swiss midfielder, who controlled the tempo beautifully. He was seen further up the field than usual, perhaps one of the many reasons that Arsenal dominated Brentford so well. A strange occurrence took place at the end as he refused to take the captain’s armband from Eddie Nketiah, but that aside, Xhaka was excellent all game.

It’s yet another impressive win from Mikel Arteta’s men and now the attention turns to Wolves for the reverse fixture of earlier in the week. If Arsenal keep up their impressive run going, a top-four tilt can’t be ruled out, but they must, as Mikel Arteta keeps eulogising, take it game-by-game.

Arsenal team:
32.) Aaron Ramsdale
17.) Cédric Soares
  4.) Benjamin White
  6.) Gabriel Magalhães
  3.) Kieran Tierney
34.) Granit Xhaka
  5.) Thomas Partey
  7.) Bukayo Saka
  8.) Martin Ødegaard
10.) Emile Smith Rowe (Pépé 75’)
  9.) Alexandre Lacazette (Nketiah 83’)

Arsenal subs:
  1.) Bernd Leno
16.) Rob Holding
18.) Takehiro Tomiyasu
20.) Nuno Tavares
25.) Mohamed Elneny
23.) Albert Sambi Lokonga
19.) Nicolas Pépé
82.) Omari Hutchinson
30.) Eddie Nketiah

Brentford team:
  1.) David Raya
20.) Kristoffer Ajer
18.) Pontus Jansson (c)
  5.) Ethan Pinnock
  7.) Sergi Canós (Ghoddos 83’)
10.) Josh Dasilva (Baptiste 66’)
  6.) Christian Nørdgaard
  8.) Mathias Jensen (Janelt 42’)
  3.) Rico Henry
19.) Bryan Mbeuemo
11.) Yoane Wissa

Brentford subs:
40.) Álvaro Fernández
29.) Mads Bech Sørensen
36.) Fin Stevens
30.) Mads Roerslev
15.) Frank Onyeka
27.) Vitaly Janelt
26.) Shandon Baptiste
14.) Saman Ghoddos
43.) Nathan Young-Coombes

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