Match Report: Arsenal 1 – 1 Brentford

Arsenal (0) 1 Brentford (0) 1

Premier League

Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU

Saturday, 11th February 2023. Kick-off time: 3.00pm

(4-3-3) Aaron Ramsdale; Ben White, William Saliba, Gabriel Magalhães, Oleksandr Zinchenko; Martin Ødegaard (c), Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka; Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli.

Substitutes: Kieran Tierney, Jakub Kiwior, Rob Holding, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Leandro Trossard, (Jorge Luiz Frello Filho) Jorginho, Fabio Vieira, Matt Turner, Amario Cozier-Duberry.

Scorers: Leandro Trossard (66 mins)

Arsenal Possession Percentage: 69%

Referee: Peter Bankes

Assistant Referees: Eddie Smart, Nick Greenhalgh

Fourth Official: Simon Hooper

VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR Lee Mason; AVAR Adrian Holmes

Attendance: 60,254

Sadly, we remain without injured pair Gabriel Jesus and Mohamed Elneny, and today’s match also comes too soon for Emile Smith-Rowe, who is recovering from a thigh problem. Reiss Nelson, who has not played since November because of a hamstring issue, has resumed training but is not ready to return, unfortunately. Still, all these things considered, three points against Brentford is a must for the chaps this afternoon.

A steady start by us here at the Emirates, but somehow an early opportunity for a goal happened for our captain Martin Ødegaard, who was in a lot of space on the edge of the penalty area, but sadly his effort was blocked. Shortly afterwards, a lovely pass from Martin Ødegaard as he spotted the run of Gabriel Martinelli in the visitors’ penalty area, hoping that he could exploit the space that he had found himself in; but his first touch was heavy and he was pushed wide, earning a corner for his trouble. Oleksandr Zinchenko was completely unmarked in the Brentford penalty area when the corner fell for him but his shot flew up high into the stand. After about a quarter of an hour, Martin Ødegaard had somehow managed to bundle the ball through in the penalty area to Bukayo Saka who limply poked the ball at goalkeeper David Raya from close range as he was put under pressure by Bees’ defender Rico Henry. Suddenly and surprisingly, the visitors broke out and just inside our penalty area, Bryan Mbuemo and Ivan Toney played a clever one-two. Terrifyingly, the ball came back to Ivan Toney in the middle of our penalty area and his shot bounced off the crossbar, which was the visitors’ best chance of the match so far, and thankfully it was wasted. Our overall play today is far superior to Brentford, and it is a shame that our clever play and determination has not lead to a goal as yet. With about five minutes or so before half-time, Ben White chipped a lovely ball to the back post for Granit Xhaka to run onto, but defender Mads Roerslev got there before him to head it behind for an Arsenal corner, which went nowhere. Then, picking up on a loose ball, Martin Ødegaard played a couple of one-two’s with Eddie Nketiah before the latter appeared to place it comfortably into David Raya’s arms, who looked relieved at the ease in which he caught the ball. In injury time, yet another superb Ben White cross found Bukayo Saka who disappointingly headed it into the ground and it was easily cleared by a Brentford defender. Although we have the lion’s share of possession in this half, it has not converted into goals, unfortunately. We need to do a lot better, and become far more clinical in the second half in order to grab maximum points today.

The second half got underway, with a determined Arsenal pinning Brentford back into their own penalty area, which could be a good omen for the rest of the half (maybe). Granit Xhaka placed the ball through to Bukayo Saka, but the angle was tight; he fired it at goalkeeper David Raya, who was forced into an acrobatic save at the near post. After an effort by Brentford that was fairly easily neutralised by our defence, Martin Ødegaard peeled off into space in the penalty area and he hit the ball cleanly on the half-volley, which was impressive. There was a lot of power behind the shot, but the angle favoured David Raya, who held onto it near the goalpost. On the counter attack, the visitors were starting look extremely dangerous, which could of course, be their gameplan today. William Saliba lost the ball just outside our penalty area and Bryan Mbeumo found Mathias Jensen, who in turn, almost telepathically found Ivan Toney, who got dangerously close to opening the scoring when his shot spun around Aaron Ramsdale’s post. In a match that has become end-to-end action, we really need to be more alert and attentive in our own penalty area, otherwise there could be an issue here. We are seeing a lot of the ball today but are incredibly frustrated in front of the visitors’ goal. Granit Xhaka had a “go” from long range but it was easily blocked by a Brentford defender, and shortly afterwards, Mikel Arteta made his first substitution of the afternoon when Leandro Trossard replaced a largely ineffective Gabriel Martinelli, to see if he has the key to unlock the Brentford defensive door. After a frustrating moment in which Gabriel hit the ball straight at David Raya in the Brentford goal, we finally got the goal that our play deserved. Bukayo Saka crossed the ball, and our substitute Leandro Trossard’s left-footed shot from very close range flew past David Raya and ended up in the bottom left hand corner of the Brentford net. The relief amongst our players and supporters is there for all to see, and with twenty-four minutes of the match remaining, the time remains for us to grab more goals if possible. After a couple of chances, the unthinkable happened. Following a scramble in our penalty area, Christian Nørgaard simply poked at the ball and somehow Ivan Toney was there to see it over the line to equalise the scores, despite a heartstopping VAR offside check lasting two or three minutes, as it was thought that Ethan Pinnock was offside in the build-up, but the Stockley Park gang decreed that the goal stood. So frustrating for us, as now in theory, this game could go either way. We immediately flew at them following the restart, and Leandro Trossard flicked it on to Eddie Nketiah but he had his back to the goal so he was able to tee up Martin Ødegaard, who somehow managed to return it to Eddie Nketiah again. Although his pass to Leandro Trossard was blocked, the ball fell to Oleksandr Zinchenko, whose shot bounced harmlessly wide. Fabio Vieira replaced Granit Xhaka, and in our next attack, Ben White curled it in for Leandro Trossard, but Mads Roerslev kicked the ball away at the back post. With minutes left of the match, Leandro Trossard fed the ball through to Eddie Nketiah in the Brentford penalty area, but he was tackled by Ethan Pinnock in a last ditch attempt to stop him, which was successful this time, and then Martin Ødegaard slipped the ball through to Eddie Nketiah but Ben Mee stopped our man from advancing any further by simply taking the ball from him and launching it into the stand. Game management appears to be the order of the day now, and in the four minutes injury time, there was an unpleasant melee when Ivan Toney went to the ground claiming injury, but after a brief hiatus, the match continued. We won a free-kick just outside the penalty area with just seconds to go, but it was criminally wasted and referee Peter Bankes blew the whistle for this disappointing match to end.

After last Saturday’s defeat at Everton, it almost pales into insgnificance that we had sixty-nine per cent possession today, nor that we had twenty-three shots on goal (seven on target), and that we walked away with a point; what is extremely concerning is that we are unable to hold the lead and that we did look extremely vulnerable on the break, along with the problem that we appear not to be able to be clinically ruthless in attack. Full marks to a well-organised Brentford (even though their equalising goal looked to be offside), but if one considers that our next game is against Manchester City in four days’ time, we have to ensure that we go into that game having ironed out these issues, otherwise our Premiership title challenge this year could take a nasty turn for the worst.

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: Manchester City at the Emirates on Wednesday, 15th February at 7.30pm (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


2 thoughts on “Match Report: Arsenal 1 – 1 Brentford

  1. Silentstan

    Lacking inventiveness up front and bullied at the back.
    For weeks Martinelli has been proving my long held opinion that his effort disguises lack of product.
    He has his fan boys but Nketiah should be no where near the starting 11. He cannot unsettle defences and is a one trick pony.
    Saliba proving his youthfulness and inability to deal with big guys


  2. Me

    It just an ordinary February for Arsenal where we do nothing and cave in.
    Its utterly predictable.
    Except this time we actually have something to play for which will make it even more painful than usual.
    Going by yesterday and against Everton I would say Saka and Co have also gone on strike



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