In this article, we will take a look at some of the key takeaways as Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal were dominant in a one-way 2-1 win against Brentford in their Premier League clash at the Emirates stadium, seeing the Gunners climb level with West Ham in fifth, and just one point outside the top four as the club’s assault on the Champions League places continues.
Arsenal are justified in search for center-forward
Mikel Arteta's young guns ran out deserved winners in their 2-1 home triumph against Thomas Frank's Brentford earlier this afternoon, but truthfully, that scoreline flatters to deceive following a performance that should have seen the Bees hit for far more than just the pair.
Once again there were reminders as to why Arsenal are so heavily invested in bringing in a new center-forward in the summer; partly because of the necessity in terms of all three options from this season being set to leave, but also because of the fact that the Gunners need just that little extra bit of quality to lead the line than they currently have.
To be clear, Alexandre Lacazette led the line admirably today and put in a very credible, all-action performance. He usually does. His assist for Emile Smith Rowe's opener was a prime example of how the Frenchman has expertly continued to bring the youngsters around him into the fold on the pitch, and helped their platform to shine. But he is missing just that little bit extra in front of goal.
If not for being fractionally offside, Lacazette would have been among the goals today, and perhaps part of the issue is that the general work that Mikel Arteta requires from his number 9 far exceeds just worrying about getting on the scoresheet (why Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ultimately failed to stand the test of time under the Spaniard).
Before kickoff, Lacazette was sitting on just three goals in 17-appearances in the Premier League this season for Arsenal, and is even underperforming his xG by 2.07 (via understat). Though his tasking on the pitch is more expansive, that is never a good enough return for a club the size of Arsenal, who harbor ambitions of returning to the Champions League and eventually challenging for league honors.
Saka & Smith Rowe are genuinely irreplaceable at the Emirates
It was ESR's 9th goal of the league campaign (club leader) with Saka smashing his 7th of the domestic campaign past David Raya off the far post in a pair of highly influential displays that have become commonplace at the Emirates this season, as both players have kicked into another gear in their development on the pitch as true star assets in north London.
Smith Rowe also became the first Hale End academy graduate to hit the 10-goal mark overall in a season since the 2009-10 campaign, when Cesc Fàbregas hit the same marker. Though Gabriel Martinelli has also come on strong this season and has shown that he certainly can hold the weight of responsibility on his shoulders in the left-wing berth for Arsenal, Saka and Smith Rowe must unquestionably be viewed as irreplaceable by the Gunners if their project is to stand the test of time.
Brentford must reinvent themselves if they are to establish Premier League longevity
What started as a brilliant return to the top flight of English football for Brentford has divulged into a nightmare as Thomas Frank's Bees now sit just six points clear of the drop zone.
A 2-0 home win against Arsenal at the Brentford Community Stadium to open the 2021-22 Premier League campaign was a dream start for the club, who began the opening exchanges of the season with a credible 3-3-1 record, and looked good value to potentially push for a mid-table finish. But the pre-season neutral fan favorite then went on a four-match losing run across five matches that netted them just a single point.
Temporarily arrested when they logged two wins and a draw to stop the slide, they reverted right back into a horrific vein of form that has seen the club register just one win in their last ten (1-1-8).
And the issues are simple, but yet not so simple; goals. Brentford have bagged just five goals across the aforementioned ten-match spread during a season where they are underperforming both their xG and xGA by considerable margins which have resulted in the compiled data suggesting the Bees should have 11.79 points more than they have managed to secure.
Tactically, Brentford need to reinvent themselves and soon. The addition of Christian Eriksen to their ranks gives the club a massive boost in creative control on the pitch and that could very well fix part of the problem, but something must be amended in quick order if they are to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.