Arsenal already look like team in crisis after dismal Premier League opener
BRENTFORD 2-0 ARSENAL: The Gunners got off to the worst possible start to their new Premier League campaign and the pressure is already mounting on manager Mikel Arteta
One game into the season and Arsenal already look like a team in crisis.
The jubilant Brentford fans were singing about Mikel Arteta getting sacked in the morning, Arsenal’s main strikers were both missing and the visitors looked a complete shambles.
It was almost as if football has never been away. Brentford have got lift off in the Premier League while Arsenal have got Chelsea and Manchester City up next.
What a contrast in fortunes. This was Brentford’s first top flight game in 74 years, a night they will never forget in front of a sell-out crowd of 16,479 at their magnificent new stadium.
Brentford did a lap of honour at the final whistle, manager Thomas Frank was punching the air in delight and it is impossible not to admire this club’s incredible rise epitomised by a terrific victory full of pride and passion.
But no wonder Amazon wanted to sign up Arsenal for their next All Or Nothing documentary because it is a club which seems to do meltdowns like few others.
Arsenal look a team undercooked, underprepared and, while they were missing players, that can never be an excuse for being so easily outclassed and outfought.
Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were both ill, the defence was AWOL as Arsenal’s £50m centre half Ben White had a debut to forget amid a host of dreadful, gutless displays.
The simple truth is if they do no strengthen the squad before the window shuts then it will be another panful year for Arteta. If he gets that long. But heart, spirit and determination is not so easy to find. Brentford had it by the bucketload. Arsenal had none.
Brentford overwhelmed Arsenal with their energy and desire while the visitors’ defence looked like nervous wrecks and were all over the place.
White and Pablo Mari were horribly shaky in central defence and were pulled apart by the energy of Bryan Mbeumo and Sergi Canos whose pace tortured Calum Chambers all night.
After quickly realising Arsenal were far from untouchable, Brentford got into their stride and went ahead after 22 minutes from a goal which will give Chambers nightmares.
Chambers tried to clear, the ball had a hint of being over the by-line, it fell to Ethan Pinnock and he got the ball to Canos.
Canos tore into the box, twisted and turned Chambers inside out before unleashing a shot inside Bernd Leno’s near post. The roof came off the place. How we have missed full stadiums and atmospheres on nights like these.
Arsenal did come out looking better in the second half and it was Emile Smith-Rowe who was comfortably their best player on a night when the likes of young striker Folarin Balogun looked out of his depth and Gabriel Martinelli just looked lost.
Smith-Rowe drove through the middle with a terrific turn and shot which was well saved by Brentford keeper David Raya.
Granit Xhaka slashed an effort over the bar, Arsenal chased, harried and got better when Bukayo Saka came on as a substitute.
But just as Brentford dropped, Frank just whipped up the crowd again and their noise and passion gave the players another gear – and another goal.
Brentford substitute Mads Sorensen’s long throw carried all the way across the face of goal, Arsenal’s defence were left flat footed and in raced Christian Norgaard to cap a brilliant performance to race in with a towering header into the net.
This was a night Brentford will never forget for all the right reasons and one which will be a painful memory for Arteta who already looks to be in trouble and the season has barely started.