Anticipation had been building. For generations. Since 1947, Brentford had not hosted a first division game and when it happened, in the club’s charming new stadium, which was full for the first time, it played out exactly as everyone would have dreamed of.
There was a blow to the first half from the side, Sergi Canós, who made the place vibrate and, after a determined defense, while Arsenal tried to mount the rescue operation, Brentford went home when Christian Nørgaard got up to punish a foul basic desire in visiting defense.
The Arsenal investigation will rage. They usually do. It will rake over a lot of familiar terrain – the smooth bottom, the dull front. They had a lot of ball, particularly in the second half, and yet they never seemed to hurt Brentford when they needed it.
It was a night that belonged to Thomas Frank and the red and white striped players. They felt that Arsenal could be there for the shot and as it turned out, the fullness of their night ended late as David Raya made a great save to keep Nicolas Pépé out and keep a clean sheet.
Do you want drama? Mark Arsenal. Amazon Prime clearly thought that when they signed up to document the club’s season and for Arteta to be stripped of his three main center forwards felt like an oddly typical plot. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette were declared ill and Eddie Nketiah was injured.
Arsenal knew what to expect. They knew that Brentford would run and push; that it would not be an easy task for them to play from behind. Twice in the first ten minutes, Thomas Frank’s team brought the hustle at the end of formation to make their opponents uncomfortable. The local crowd was full of energy. The tone was set.
It was up to Arsenal to show their quality and they secured possession for the first 15 minutes. Albert Sambi Lokonga, the new central midfielder, had fluid possession and Arsenal tried to build patiently.
And yet everything Brentford did, any challenge or push, was met with tremendous enthusiasm from the stands. Bryan Mbeumo and Ivan Toney’s move to the front was lively and nervousness bubbled for Arsenal.
Brentford had nearly eliminated them in the 12th minute when Frank Onyeka, the new signing, found Toney and hooked Mbeumo, who needs no invitation to run. His shot from an angle to the right seemed to graze Bernd Leno’s gloves before hitting the outside of the near post.
The breakthrough came as Brentford pushed down the left and Vitaly Janelt dived into a cross only for Arsenal to clear half. Calum Chambers completed the job from the color on the starting line: was the ball really out? – but Brentford came back, who was parked high, smelling blood.
Brentford worked the ball to Sergi Canós down the left and tore Chambers, aware that no Arsenal defender likes it when this happens. He skidded inside before unloading a low shot that flew into Leno’s near post. The power was too much. Brentford had taken off.
The rest of the first half was extremely uncomfortable for Arsenal. Arteta’s team stretched, their defense ultimately and Brentford, with his front foot, should have scored again in the half hour when Kristoffer Ajer released Mbeumo down the inside right channel and ran towards Ben White.
What happened next made Arteta’s blood boil. Mbeumo passed the ball but Pablo Mari gave up the coverage challenge and White fainted. Mbeumo entered only to get away from the far post. Would Brentford live to regret the young lady?
Ragged in the back, Arsenal offered little in the last third before the break. Arteta had turned to Folarin Balogun up front, handing him his first Premier League minutes, and once back, he couldn’t help but feel the pressure. The same goes for Arsenal’s entire inexperienced front line, which also featured Gabriel Martinelli, very recently back from the Olympics.
Brentford’s new compact and well-equipped home had taken 15 years to build, so imagine it will finally be ready for the start of last season, just as the pandemic took hold of them and fans were not allowed in. The club was able to squeeze in a couple thousand for two games in December, but that was all until May and the semi-final of the championship play-off, second leg, when nearly 4,000 roared their side to a famous comeback. beat Bournemouth. What a night. The idea was that this would triumph him.
Arsenal had to be better in the second half, they had to show more drive and personality with the ball. As in the first period, the first signs were promising, but could they show the necessary penetration? Emile Smith Rowe blinked away, backing away from Nørgaard, running to the edge of the area, and shooting David Raya.
This time, Arsenal stayed in the lead for longer. Arteta introduced Bukayo Saka, who was applauded by Brentford fans, a nice and supportive touch after his penalty mistake for England in the Euro 2020 final. Kieran Tierney pressed higher to the left. Brentford sank further.
Martinelli fluffed a header to the near post. It felt like a tie might be coming, but don’t assume anything with this Arsenal team. Instead, they were upset by a long shot from Brentford’s substitute Mads Bech Sørensen, the ball leaving the hapless Mari for Nørgaard to get up unanswered.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism