Arsenal turn in dismal opening day performance as Brentford claim historic win
Brentford kicked off their first campaign in the Premier League in fairy-tale style with a 2-0 win over the Arsenal at the Brentford Community stadium.
The newly-promoted outfit, playing their first season in the top flight for 74 years, rose to the occasion in stunning fashion in front of a packed house as they proved too good for a limp and fragile Arsenal side.
Arsenal was without three senior strikers, with illness ruling both Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out of contention, while Eddie Nketiah failed to shake off a pre-season injury. The absences gave Arsenal academy product Folarin Balogun a chance to lead the line in his full competitive debut for the Gunners, while full debuts were also handed out to new arrivals Ben White and Sambi Lokonga.
In front of fervent home support, Arsenal began the game brightly, but very nearly found themselves a goal down as Bryan Mbuemo’s strike cannoned off the post. Surviving the scare, Arsenal continued to probe. Emile Smith Rowe, adorned with his new number, was particularly bright, carrying Arteta’s side forward on numerous occasions; a trend that would be one of the only positives on the night throughout.
However, somewhat against the run of play, it was the Bees who took the lead midway through the first half when Spaniard Sergi Canós cut inside from the right-hand side and smashed a low effort early, surprising Bernd Leno who could not keep it out. Despite Arsenal’s dominance of possession (65.2% on the night), the Gunners threatened little, to the extent that Bukayo Saka, so often turned to in times of need, was warming up before half-time.
Sent out early by Arteta however, the north London outfit looked far more assured as they began the second half, with Lokonga and Smith Rowe both testing one-time Arsenal target David Raya. Saka’s introduction, combined with the direct running of Smith Rowe, offered two bright sparks for Arsenal, but despite their probing, Brentford held firm, roared on by the 16,470 inside the Community stadium.
And their fairytale night got better yet, with Danish international Christian Nørgaard bundling in a second goal from a Brentford long throw, although Arsenal fans will point to a potential foul on Leno in the process. Nevertheless, Brentford were well deserving of all three points, and with Arsenal hosting Chelsea and then traveling to Manchester City before the international break, it could be the start of another long season at the Emirates.
New season, same story for Mikel Arteta’s Gunners
Things are shaping up to look like a new season but the same old problems after Martin Ødegaard’s return to Real Madrid at the end of last season.
It was evident that additional creativity was a must for the summer window. Links to Leicester City’s James Maddison and the seemingly imminent return of Ødegaard are all well and good, but the time of need is right now.
Nothing is different about the way we play, so why would anything be different about the results we get?
Defensively weak and offensively impotent, beyond getting KT down the left and ESR doing something on his own.
Friday Night Shite.
— arseblog (@arseblog) August 13, 2021
Arsenal hardly looked like scoring against Thomas Frank’s Bees despite dominating the ball for large parts of the encounter. With a full preseason now under their belts, the excuses are beginning to wear thin for Mikel Arteta, whose side seems to have few ideas beyond letting Kieran Tierney cross immemorial.
The best chances on the night came through both Emile Smith Rowe’s driving run before his effort was hit right at David Raya, and the aforementioned England youngster finding Kieran Tierney in space down the left before the Scots cut back to Nicolas Pépé produced a first-time effort that tested Raya to his limits.
On current evidence, the potential arrival of Ødegaard could not come soon enough, but more must be extracted by Mikel Arteta on a tactical level from a side which is far better than how they are being instructed to operate.
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