A convincing victory away at the Tech Community Stadium saw us return to the top of the table. An incredible performance in both attacking and defensive terms, it was a well deserved win and a return to winning ways after the loss to Manchester United, a sign that the mentality of our players has definitely improved from last season. This match featured the senior debut of the youngest player to ever play in the Premier League, Ethan Nwaneri, who is just 15 years and 181 days old. The news of Partey’s return was dampened by Ødegaard and Zinchenko being ruled out through injuries picked up in training. Kieran Tierney got another rare Premier League start this season due to Zinchenko’s injury, and Vieira got a chance to prove himself on his full senior debut after we saw him play very well against FC Zürich.
Arsenal started strongly as Martinelli had an early chance after a fantastic pass from captain Xhaka, but he didn’t get enough on it and it was an easy save for Brentford goalkeeper David Raya. However, we took the lead after our first corner of the game. Saliba managed to get in front of his defender and beat Toney for a header which caught Raya off guard as he swiped it out of the goal, but it was clear that the goal had crossed the line after a check from goal-line technology. Jesus soon doubled our lead after Xhaka picked out an amazing cross which Jesus headed into the far corner, well out of the reach of Raya. Brentford then found themselves in a good spell of possession and took some good set pieces with long throws and corners, but we were defensively solid and managed to keep them at bay until the half time whistle.
Returning from the break, it was clear that the next goal of the game would be the most important. Vieira clearly knew this as he scored a wonder strike for his first Premier League goal, courtesy of a pass from Saka. He took a shot 30 yards out which hit the post and deflected into the back of the net. The celebrations that followed were heartwarming for any Arsenal fan as he celebrated with his teammates and it was clear how much this goal meant to him. We didn’t stop there, though, and continued to dominate the game creating plenty more opportunities we just couldn’t finish, very unlike Arsenal who are notorious for sitting back and defending a 1-0 lead, often working against our favour. In the closing minutes of the match, Arteta made history as yet another Hale End graduate made his senior debut; Ethan Nwaneri. At the end of the game he was too modest to take any praise from the fans until Aaron Ramsdale forced him to, a lovely gesture to end an unbelievable day for the 15 year old.
It is definitely a positive heading into the international break, sitting top of the table with a healthy goal difference at this early stage of the season. However, October is a jam packed month with 9 fixtures, including a tough run featuring Spurs and Liverpool after our Manchester City game was postponed to allow for the Europa League fixture against PSV to be rescheduled. October will undeniably be a test but the international break will allow Ødegaard and Zinchenko to return to fitness and the Europa League fixtures will lead to some much needed squad rotation, which could feature Tierney, Tomiyasu, ESR, Vieira, Marquinhos, and Eddie just to name a few. And who knows, maybe even a rare appearance from Nwaneri. Squad depth could prove to be an issue in October, but our success in that month will have a big impact going forward as the Premier League stops for the World Cup on November 20th.
Written by: Abby Goodson @_abbygoodson