Any new season always brings new hope for those who struggled in the previous one, but for Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal there seems no hope, no intention to improve – against Brentford, it was the same old Arsenal who digested a humiliating defeat. Since 1947, Brentford had not hosted a top division football match and when they hosted, they created history.

Their previous top-flight home game had been against Arsenal, which ended in a 1-0 defeat – and, this time, they set the tone with an aggressive press, twice upsetting Arsenal in the opening ten minutes.

Bryan Mbeumo and Toney caused problems with their movements. In the twelfth minute, Mbeumo ran fast and executed a shot off the outside of the near post and the breakthrough came when Vitaly Janelt threw himself at a cross from the left only for Arsenal to half clear.

Chambers tried to finish from the byline but back came Brentford, who were in the mood – Ethan Pinnock headed the ball up to Sergi Canos and he tore at the uncertain Chambers. He skated inside before unloading a low shot that flew inside Leno’s near post. Brentford took a shocking lead.

What the Gunners needed was a reorganization, but remained shaky at the back, reluctant to move forward, and had no build-up whatsoever or creativity in the midfield.

Brentford pounced on it.

The first half was very uncomfortable for the visitors.

Brentford ought to have scored again on the half-hour when Kristoffer Ajer released Mbeumo up the inside right channel and he ran at Ben White, who also struggled.

Mbeumo over-ran the ball but Mari gave up on the covering challenge and White melted away. Mbeumo was in only to drag wide of the far post – Arsenal were still not organizing themselves!

Albert Sambi Lokonga, the new midfielder, was a plus point with the smoothness of his passing and Emile Smith Rowe and Kieran Tierney looked to ignite the fight back.

Arteta introduced Bukayo Saka and the Brentford fans applauded him, mindful of the racist abuse that the winger had suffered after his penalty miss for England at the Euro 2020 final.

Martinelli fluffed a near-post header and Granit Xhaka flashed a shot high. It felt as though the equalizer might be coming, but Brentford put water in those hopes.

When the Brentford substitute, Mads Bech Sorensen, hurled over a long throw, Ivan Toney rose in between Pablo Mari and Calum Chambers at the near post – none of the Arsenal defenders went with any conviction and, when the ball glanced off Mari, it bounced down and up across the six-yard box.

Nørgaard was completely unchallenged and that summed up the Arsenal unit.

With games against Chelsea and Manchester City coming up, Arsenal needed to get off to a good start at Brentford, but instead, they were below-par.

“We had a team that we put out there that were good enough to play the way we want to play and [were] capable of achieving a different result,” Arteta said after the game.

“We are very clear of what we wanted to do, of what our strengths are and where we can improve,” Arteta said, when asked if the defeat would prompt some urgency in the transfer market.

“I don’t think this performance shows anything different from what we’ve already seen.”

“My focus [now] is with the players that we have, to try to make them play as best as possible and to try to find a way to win football matches.”

“I thought we deserved the win. What I liked was how brave we were, pressing high and trying to play,” said Frank, the Brendfort manager, after the match.

“The players were amazing; they ran themselves to the ground and played with intensity.”

“On set-pieces I thought we were better, that’s why we did long throws and at times we could go high and knew that we could win the ball and create chances.”


Certainly, a big day for Brentford and their fans.

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