GTECH COMMUNITY STADIUM, LONDON — Arsenal restored their spot at the top of the Premier League with a 3-0 victory over Brentford.
William Saliba headed the Gunners into the lead midway through the first half from a corner. Gabriel Jesus continued his fine start to life in red and white, too, doubling the advantage 11 minutes later, heading in from Granit Xhaka’s deft lob over the Bees’ backline.
On his first Premier League start, Fabio Vieira made it three just after halftime with a wonderful long-range strike going in off the woodwork.
Mikel Arteta’s men may have failed their first big test of the campaign last time out, as an impressive performance at Old Trafford ended fruitless in a 3-1 loss to Manchester United, but they bounced back in assured fashion to again plant their flag at the summit of the table. This Sunday lunchtime win was drama-free, and a potential banana skin avoided.
Brentford, meanwhile, are brought back down to earth after putting nine past Manchester United and Leeds United here, along with the boost of seeing star man Ivan Toney rewarded with an England call-up. They were made to look poor by Arsenal, who sucked the life out of proceedings at times — in a good way.
Indeed, the display was built on a strong foundation Arteta has laid over the past 13 months since the chastening 2-0 defeat at this ground, which now feels a lifetime ago, as Arsenal’s early-season crisis was kickstarted under the Friday-night lights.
That was the first time we saw a top-flight stadium full of fans post-pandemic; the first time Bukayo Saka was applauded by home supporters following his penalty miss and endurance of racist abuse at Euro 2020; the first time Ben White pulled on an Arsenal shirt after his £50 million arrival; the first time Brentford ever played a Premier League game; the first appearance for then-public enemy No.1 Xhaka after a failed proposed transfer to Roma.
The Switzerland international has now recovered to such an extent that he had his name sung by the visiting fans during the second half and at fulltime. Serenading him — and with the captain’s armband on — would’ve been simply unfathomable last season. He has become the key man, constantly in the thick of the action and transitioning Arsenal from defence to attack, taking the plaudits via backslaps and high-fives from his manager on the sidelines during the afternoon.
Every aspect of his game was a level above — controlling Arsenal’s shape, recycling possession to calm the play after each goal, incisive passing into the final third, tenacious in the challenge. It was a complete performance from Xhaka.
He starred alongside the returning Thomas Partey, who join Saliba and Gabriel behind them in making a physically imposing base that can compete with any side in the division. Last term’s defeat to Brentford raised old cries over Arsenal being physically monstered and outworked by a tenacious side. Today, the powerful pair of Toney and Bryan Mbuemo were sniffed out and muscled off the ball at every sighting.
🚨 Vieira scores for Arsenal! 🚨
We’ve seen that before…😁#ARS #BREARS pic.twitter.com/DsUKdO3Mwe
That foundation allows Arsenal’s new-look front-four to flourish. Martin Odegaard was out through injury today but wasn’t missed, with Vieira providing a capable backup to say the least. Saka and Gabriel Martinelli either side of him have of course nailed those starting spots and looked capable of turning the heat up on a rather ugly game at any moment, ensuring Brentford stayed pinned back even when not under immediate pressure.
But the real star is Jesus, who has already proven to be a superb purchase. He’s now up to four goals and three assists across his first seven league games.
Nominally at No.9, the Brazilian was given the freedom of West London to roam, collecting the ball however deep he saw fit and also helping defensively. Going forward, he was a menace throughout, with centre-backs frightened of his jinking feet.
Even when Arsenal decided to take the foot off the gas, Jesus was the one man trying to inject a greater sense of pace, driving through the heart of the hosts and also breaking down the left at every opportunity. He provided an out-ball for Kieran Tierney and Xhaka, peeling off whichever Brentford defender was unlucky enough to be closest to him at any given time with ease.
Balogun coming in for this fixture last August epitomised Arsenal’s shortcomings, as the youngster — through no fault of his own — was left to flounder in a dysfunctional system and up against players he had no idea how to trouble. Jesus proved again he has restored a fear factor in the Gunners’ attack.
That’s one way to react to being left out of the Brazil squad.
Jesus now has four goals and three assists in seven Premier League games.
Brazil may want to 𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙖𝙡𝙡 him…📞 #ARS #BREARS pic.twitter.com/wTjEZXY3VP
To top off Arsenal’s afternoon, Ethan Nwaneri came off the bench to become the youngest ever player to appear in the Premier League. He is just 15 years old, born in the Emirates Stadium’s first season.
The midfielder has enjoyed a rapid rise in the last year, making his Under-18 debut in 2021/22 and since playing for the Under-21s. His selection on the bench this afternoon came completely out of the blue, though, with Arteta going off instinct.
The Spanish coach told his post-match press conference: “It was a pure gut feeling. I met the boy and I liked what I saw.
“I had info from Per [Mertesacker] and Edu. Yesterday he had to come because of the injury of Martin and I had that feeling that if the opportunity would come, I would do it.”
Hey @premierleague, meet Ethan Nwaneri. ✨ pic.twitter.com/0sACZdkyJ1
Goals: Saliba (17), Jesus (28), Vieira (49)
FULL-TIME: It ends 3-0 to Arsenal, on a very comfortable afternoon in West London for Arteta’s men.
89th min: A special moment for Arsenal’s Ethan Nwaneri, who makes his first Premier League appearance aged just 15. He’s on for scorer Vieira. “He’s got school in the morning,” the away end sing.
86th min: Jesus bursts in to shoot again from the left after a lull in play, denied by Raya. Nkeitah has struggled to make an impact thus far, albeit with an understandable lack of urgency from his teammates.
76th min: Arsenal are seeing the game out with ease, with neither side creating any clear-cut chances now. Eddie Nketiah and Sambi Lokonga are on to provide fresh legs for the Gunners, with the latter surely seeing this as a chance to break his scoring duck for the season.
66th min: The latest Arsenal chance falls to Saka, with Martinelli and Vieira moving the ball well from the right, teeing up the England international for a left-footed effort cutting in, which Raya saves.
57th min: Chants of “ole” from the travelling fans almost end in another Jesus goal, as an incisive passing move ends with the Brazilian emerging down the left of the area and firing an effort at Raya from close range.
53rd min: An audacious effort from England new boy Toney. A free-kick is teed off to him, with the striker flicking it up himself and volleying just over Ramsdale’s net.
49th min: GOAL! That’s one way to mark your first Premier League start! Vieira fires a left-footed effort from outside the area, which strikes Raya’s left post and flies in. The Gunners are three goals to the good.
*Video available in UK:
Fábio Vieira puts the game to bed with a fantastic goal on his full Premier League debut! ⚽ pic.twitter.com/lGJhVgVmcW
*Video available in USA:
What a way to mark your first @PLinUSA start Fabio Vieira! #AFC
📺: @USA_Network & @TelemundoSports #MyPLMorning | #BREARS pic.twitter.com/ElwYp0dDNY
47th min: Arsenal immediately on the front foot, with Saka driving into the area down the right, before the jinking feet of Jesus nearly create another scoring opportunity for the in-form marksman.
46th min: The second half is underway.
HALF-TIME: Arteta’s men go in for the interval 2-0 up.
45th min: Toney is being forced to drop deeper to pick up possession, and his ball in creates a rare half-chance for Brentford as we move into added time, with the tenacious Mbuemo glancing it wide. Manager Frank has a big task at the break.
39th min: The home crowd are becoming restless with both the referee and the visitors, who take their time over a couple of goal kicks and throw-ins, with the game moving at a snail’s pace. Other than one break into the box, Brentford have struggled to apply any pressure since the Gunners’ double.
30th min: Saka has a good chance to finish the game off, but skies his effort after Vieira – who has been fairly quiet so far – delicately plays him in on the edge of the box.
28th min: GOAL! After a dull period in play, the Gunners liven things back up by doubling their advantage with another header. Jesus is the man on the scoresheet this time from Xhaka’s deft lob through the middle, scoring his fourth goal since a summer switch from Manchester City.
*Video available in UK:
Another headed goal for Arsenal with Jesus nodding past Raya! ⚽
The ball from Xhaka was sublime! 👏 pic.twitter.com/9bQTs0vHd1
*Video available in USA:
Do your dance Gabby Jesus! 🕺
📺: @USA_Network & @TelemundoSports #MyPLMorning | #BREARS pic.twitter.com/rnGyY9A0k1
17th min: GOAL! Saliba gives Arsenal the lead! From a corner won by Saka down Arsenal’s right flank, the French defender rises highest to net his second of the campaign.
*Video available in UK:
Saliba gives Arsenal the lead with a header! ⚽ pic.twitter.com/WloxnggRE2
*Video available in USA:
William Saliba scores and the the away end is singing! 🎵 #AFC
📺: @USA_Network & @TelemundoSports #MyPLMorning | #BREARS pic.twitter.com/WMuC7XoPRM
10th min: Mbuemo, Dasilva and Toney are starting to threaten as the Bees gain a foothold in the game, keeping Gabriel in particular on his toes. At the other end, they’re keeping their shape, with plenty of recycling of possession from Xhaka and Partey missing a killer ball.
2nd min: Arsenal starting in command. A nice one-two between Martinelli and Xhaka on the edge of the box sees the former with a great shooting opportunity, but the ball gets caught under his feet. An early let-off for the hosts.
KICK-OFF: We’re underway in West London!
Brentford lineup (4-3-3): Raya (GK) — Hickey, Ajer, Jansson, Mee — Henry, Janelt, Dasilva — Jensen, Mbeumo, Toney
Arsenal lineup (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale (GK) — White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney — Partey, Xhaka — Vieira, Saka, Martinelli — Jesus
UK: Matches are carried across Sky Sports and BT Sport streaming and TV platforms, with select matches on Amazon Prime. Brentford vs. Arsenal will be part of Sky Sports’ Super Sunday this weekend.
USA: Select matches are televised on USA Network (English) and Telemundo or Universo (Spanish), and all three channels can be streamed on fuboTV.
Canada: Every Premier League game streams live and on demand exclusively via fuboTV.
Australia: Fans in Australia can stream matches live and on demand on Optus Sport.