Result: Arsenal 2 – 1 Brentford
Competition: Premier League
Date: 19 February 2022
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Arsenal: Ramsdale, Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tierney, Xhaka, Partey, Odegaard, Smith Rowe, Saka, Lacazette
Subs: Leno, Holding, Tomiyasu, Tavares, Lokonga, Elneny, Nketiah, Hutchinson, Pepe
Arsenal put in a commanding display against Brentford to exorcise the demons of the opening day loss with a 2-1 win at home.
Second half goals by Smith Rowe and Saka punctuated their dominance though the scoreline could have been larger if not for multiple calls for penalties waived away by poor refereeing.
With this win, Arsenal kept pace with Manchester United in fourth, 1 point ahead but with 2 games in hand.
Having had a good week and a half’s rest since the win against Wolves, the team remained mostly unchanged except for Smith Rowe coming in for the suspended Martinelli on the left side of attack.
Leno and Tomiyasu made the bench after recovering from Covid-19 and injuries respectively.
After over a week without a game, the Gunners had a lot of time to work on their movement and build up. That work on the training ground looked to have paid off as Arsenal started brightly with slick interchanges, patiently probing through the Brentford defence.
That pressure saw Arsenal keep 80% of possession during the first 15 minutes which resulted in 2 close penalty calls and an effort from Lacazette that was marginally offside after some silky passes with midfield.
Unable to keep Arsenal at bay, Brentford resorted to small niggly fouls with Saka the most frequent recipient of shirt tugs when in possession – all of them unfairly waived off by a referee who should have done better to discourage rotational fouling.
White, Odegaard and Partey had decent shots from distance to test the Brentford ‘keeper but none came as close as Cedric.
His well-struck half volley hit Wissa on his arm and despite several of our players crowding the referee to appeal, there was still no call for a penalty.
Despite the heavy dominance in possession (and 16 attempts on goal), the first goal proved futile as Arsenal’s attacks were repelled by a deep and stout Brentford defence.
The 17th attempt on goal was a lot more fruitful for Arsenal as Smith Rowe broke the deadlock early on the 47th minute.
Lacazette received the ball in the centre circle and passed it to Smith Rowe on the left side of midfield. The youngster drove forward into the penalty box, cut in on his right foot and slid the ball low into the bottom corner. 1-0 Arsenal
The rest of the game continued in the same fashion. Arsenal continued to be swift in attack while defending expertly with Gabriel colossal at the back.
Smith Rowe eventually made way for Pepe and the Ivorian almost scored with his first touch. The Gunners countered on the 75th minute as Lacazette made a nuisance of himself to hold onto the ball against 2 large defenders. He slipped in Odegaard who crossed low for Pepe down the left whose tap-in was blocked on the line.
Arsenal’s attempts to kill off the game came only five minutes later on another counter attack. This time, it was Saka on the left who was played in by Partey. He made no mistake from the edge of the box to pass the ball into the far post to make it 2-0 to The Arsenal.
The Gunners had another penalty shout as Pepe was tripped in the box but yet again, the referee turned a blind eye to the foul. Brentford got a consolation goal right at the death (2-1 Brentford goal) but no matter, Arsenal’s dominance proved too much for the newly promoted side.