Newcomers Brentford beat Arsenal to make flying Premier League start
Brentford made a blistering start to their first English top-flight season for 74 years as goals from Sergi Canos and Christian Norgaard earned a 2-0 win over Arsenal in front of a first-ever full house at the Brentford Community Stadium on Friday.
The Bees spent the first season at their new home playing behind closed doors, but rose to the occasion as they were roared on by 17,000 fans in west London in the first Premier League match at full capacity since March 2020.
Bees’ boss Thomas Frank whipped up the crowd into a frenzy before kick-off and Arsenal were soon suffering under the relentless pressing his side became famous for in the Championship.
Bryan Mbuemo drilled a shot off the outside of the post in the first warning shot from the home side before they took the lead on 22 minutes.
Ethan Pinnock fed Canos on the Brentford left and he cut inside to unleash a powerful shot that beat Bernd Leno at his near post.
Mbuemo then dragged another huge chance wide after turning Arsenal’s new £50 million signing Ben White with ease.
The Gunners were without both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandra Lacazette due to illness, handing Folarin Balogun his Premier League debut.
Balogun wasted the visitors’ best chance of the first-half, but was also unfortunate not to win a penalty as he was caught on the follow through after slicing wide.
Arsenal started the second-half with far more purpose as Kieran Tierney and Emile Smith-Rowe finally forced David Raya into action.
Bukayo Saka was given a standing ovation by both sets of fans when he was introduced on the hour mark after the racial abuse he suffered in the aftermath of missing the decisive penalty in England’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.
But Brentford’s players were in no mood to show any mercy and substitute Norgaard made sure of a famous night 17 minutes from time.
Arsenal somehow let a long throw bounce inside their six-yard box and the Danish international gratefully headed into an unguarded net to double Brentford’s advantage.
Norgaard was inches away from another goal moments later with Leno again flapping at a set-piece.
Smith-Rowe and Tierney were the only sources of comfort for Arsenal as they combined to set up Nicolas Pepe, who was denied by a stunning save by Raya five minutes from time.
After finishing eighth in each of his first two seasons in charge, Mikel Arteta was under pressure before the season even began to show signs of a major improvement.
The Spaniard has a daunting task to turn things around before the September international break with title favourites Chelsea and Manchester City to come in Arsenal’s next two games.