Brentford (0) 0 Arsenal (2) 3
Gtech Community Stadium, 166 Lionel Road North, Brentford TW8 0RU
Sunday, 18th September 2022. Kick-off time: 12.00pm (noon)
(4-2-3-1) Aaron Ramsdale; Ben White, William Saliba, Gabriel Magalhães, Kieran Tierney; Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka (c), Bukayo Saka; Fabio Vieira, Gabriel Martinelli; Gabriel Jesus.
Substitutes: Eddie Nketiah, Rob Holding, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Albert Sambi Lokonga, (Marcus Vinicius Oliveira Alencar) Marquinhos, Matt Turner, Matt Smith, Ethan Nwaneri, Lino da Cruz Sousa.
Scorers: William Saliba (16 mins), Gabriel Jesus, (27 mins), Fabio Vieira (48 mins)
Yellow Cards: Granit Xhaka, Gabriel Jesus
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 64%
Referee: David Coote
Assistant Referees: Nick Hopton, Timothy Wood
Fourth Official: John Brooks
VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR Peter Bankes; AVAR Neil Davies
Because of the sad passing of Her Majesty The Queen on 8th September, this is our first match for ten days, and after today’s game, our next game will be in seventeen days time, which is the North London derby, of course. This is our first visit to Brentford since the opening day of last season, and none of us wish to be reminded about what happened on that sad day, suffice to say that we are a different team this year, and our resolve is greater.
Within minutes of the kick-off, we showed our intent when Granit Xhaka, who is our captain for the day, as Martin Odegaard is injured, ran down the left hand side of the home side’s penalty area, crossed it for Gabriel Martinelli, who missed a good chance to open the scoring from just twelve yards out. Although the home side had a chance to score just afterwards through Bryan Mbeumo, his header was weak and did not trouble Aaron Ramsdale in any way, shape or form. Slowly, we started to show our class and dominate proceedings with some fabulous footwork and passing ability, the likes of which Brentford had trouble containing, let alone stopping. The pressure we placed on the Brentford defence was only going to have one outcome, and just after the quarter of hour mark, a Bukayo Saka corner, (that wickedly curled into the home side’s penalty area) which William Saliba rose to meet before flicking a superb header into the net off the post. Five minutes later, Gabriel went to ground, but our physio ran on and attended to him before carrying on with the match. On the twenty-seventh minute, Granit Xhaka found time to take a look to see where Gabriel Jesus was positioned before chipping a perfect cross onto his head, somehow looping a header into the back of the net, to make it two-nil to Arsenal just before the half-hour mark. A few minutes later, Bukayo Saka almost made it three, and as the first half wore on, we looked like we were simply cruising. Kieran Tierney had a long range shot from twenty-five yards which went up and over the home side’s crossbar, and as half-time appeared, we were not too bothered by any Brentford attack in the slightest.
The second half started fairly much as the first one finished, with Arsenal in complete control, and just three minutes into the second half, Bukayo Saka stroked the ball off to Fabio Vieira some twenty-five yards out, who simply took a touch and whacked the ball into the back of the net via the post (again), for our third goal of the game. Complete control. There could easily have been a fourth goal a little while later but goalkeeper David Raya made an excellent save from close range to deny Gabriel Jesus his second goal of the game. Granit Xhaka received a silly, soft yellow card from referee David Coote, and just after the hour mark, Bukayo Saka’s strike from the edge of the penalty area was amazingly kept out by a flying save from David Raya. On the seventieth minute of the match, supporters were on their feet to applaud the memory of Queen Elizabeth II and her seventy years on the throne. With thirteen minutes of the match remaining, Thomas Partey was replaced by Albert Sambi Lokonga and Gabriel Martinelli made way for Eddie Nketiah, and our pressure on the Brentford goal continued, with both Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Jesus being desperately unlucky not to score within seconds of each other. Takehiro Tomiyasu replaced Ben White on the eighty-fifth minute, and we received our second yellow card of the day when Gabriel Jesus stupidly tripped Adam Hickey. And then, on the stroke of ninety minutes, a truly historical moment in the history of Arsenal Football Club happened, when Fabio Vieira was substituted for Ethan Nwaneri, who at fifteen years and 181 days, became not only Arsenal’s youngest ever player, but the Premier League’s as well! Also he is the first player to play in the Premier League under the age of sixteen. Such a huge honour for both the lad and his family. Just over three minutes later, the match finished with a well-deserved win for us, who remain top of the Premiership tonight.
From beginning of the game to the end, Arsenal were by far and away the best team on the pitch today. Our passing was crisp, our finishing was clinical, and Mikel Arteta had the confidence to give an Arsenal debut to the youngest-ever Premier League debutant as well. All this and more, sets us up perfectly for the North London derby in a couple of weeks!
Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates on Saturday, 1st October at 12.30pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.
Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon