Result: Brentford 0-1 Arsenal
Competition: Carabao Cup
Date: 27 September 2023
Venue: Gtech Community Stadium
Arsenal: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Kiwior, Jorginho, Havertz, Smith Rowe, Nelson, Sagoe Jr, Nketiah
Subs: Hein, Cedric, Sweet, Walters, Zinchenko, Elneny, Odegaard, Cozier-Duberry, Jesus
Arsenal secured their place in the Carabao Cup 4th Round with a battling 1-0 win at Brentford.
An early Reiss Nelson goal was enough to separate the sides although the Gunners had to withstand a second half barrage from the home side who forced a fine stop from Aaron Ramsdale and a near-miraculous block by Jakub Kiwior.
Arsenal were always going to rotate for the Carabao Cup but with six first team squad members injured, Mikel Arteta wasn’t in a position to make wholesale changes. Ben White, Gabriel Magalhaes and Eddie Nketiah retained their place from the North London derby while Jorginho, Emile Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson, who all featured off the bench against Sp*rs, also started. Smith Rowe was making his 100th appearance for the Gunners while young winger Charles Sagoe Junior was handed an unexpected debut. Oleksandr Zinchenko, Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Jesus were kept in reserve.
Away from home against Premier League opposition and having made a host of changes, you’d have been forgiven for thinking Arsenal were in for a tough ride at a stadium they lost at two years ago. In truth, it was a very comfortable first half for Mikel Arteta’s side, who looked solid at the back – a couple of scares aside – and patient on the ball.
It certainly helped that the Gunners grabbed an early opener. A poor back pass by Brentford’s Jorgensen was intercepted by Nketiah in the box and the striker unselfishly teed up Nelson who took a touch and passed the ball into the net. (GOAL 1-0)
After his mistake on Sunday, Jorginho looked a little nervy to start but he soon settled and kept things ticking over in midfield. Nelson looked bright, particularly with his tracking back, Havertz was his typically languid self and Smith Rowe, after a couple of rusty touches, actually looked very tidy.
The England international made a burst into the box on 24 minutes that ended with a shot being blocked at close quarters and he repeated the trick just past the half-hour mark, first playing a smart give-and-go with Jorginho, before forcing keeper Flekken into a very decent stop down low to his right.
Nketiah, also played in by Jorginho, was the next to try his luck at wriggling through the entire Brentford defence but he couldn’t find the space for a shot.
At the other end, Tomiyasu made a fine block to deny Janelt – greeted warmly by the travelling Gooners – and Wissa fired wide first time after finding himself in acres of space on the edge of the box. Ramsdale also had a bit of a moment when he got caught dawdling on the ball but he was bailed out by Gabriel Magalhaes.
Having had little to cheer in the opening period, the Brentford fans decided to take their frustration out on Ramsdale in the Arsenal goal. First, they taunted the keeper with a few rounds of “You’re just a shit David Raya” before greeting every goal kick with the classic “You’re shit, aaaahhh.” Knowing, Rambo, he’ll have loved it.
He’ll have been less impressed by the sloppiness of Gabriel who having tidied up at the back got pickpocketed in the box by a backtracking Wissa. The danger was averted but it was a sign of growing ambition from the home side.
After left-back Hickey had a curler blocked by White for a throw, Thomas Frank made two changes, sending on Norgaard and Ghoddos. The latter immediately attempted a volley from 20 yards that required a solid block. Tomiyasu was the next to throw himself into the line of fire, blocking a Wissa shot from a Ghoddos cutback. Moments later the Congolese striker thought he finally had the equaliser only for Ramsdale to make a spectacular stop to his left, tipping the ball onto the post. The keeper reacted by screaming into the crowd.
His side under the cosh, Arteta sent on Zinchenko and Jesus for the booked White and Sagoe Jr. The youngster looked energetic but he struggled to impose himself on the game and it was no surprise to see him subbed off; still, a proud day for him and his family. The changes necessitated a rejig at the back with Kiwior switching from the left to the centre and Tomiyasu moving to right-back.
As the game ticked into the final 20 minutes, Nelson should have made the home side pay for their profligacy but he couldn’t hit the target from Havertz’s cutback. After the Bees had flashed an effort over the bar, Nketiah had his best opportunity of the night, latching onto a Jesus pass before toe-poking at goal. Flekken made the save.
The end-to-end action continued with Onyeka the next to sting Ramsdale’s palms. Tomiyasu then made another block from Ghoddos. With their next attack, Brentford finally put the ball in the Arsenal net only for the goal to to be chalked off for an offside in the build-up. It was the correct decision on a night when there was no VAR in action.
Eager to hold onto the lead, Arteta replaced the tiring Smith Rowe and Nelson with Odegaard and Elneny. While the Egyptian did fire wide from range, the changes did little to change the momentum. Only an amazing stop by Kiwior’s arse and more wayward shooting by Wissa saw us retain our advantage.
In the dying seconds of five minutes of stoppage time, Brentford hurled the ball into the box a couple more times but Ramsdale managed to get safe hands on the ball, much to the relief of his defence.
So far this season, we’ve played three games on the road and won them all one-nil. Very Arsenal.