Arsenal’s Premier League season got off to the worst possible start as they were deservedly beaten 2-0 by newcomers Brentford on Friday evening.
The Bees were all-action early on and fired themselves ahead after 22 minutes as Sergi Canos cut inside from the left and thundered home a snapshot which flew past Bernd Leno.
Arsenal grew into the game after the break and rained down plenty of half-chances on David Raya’s goal, but Brentford weathered the storm and doubled their advantage midway through the second half as Christian Norgaard headed home following some comical defending from a long throw-in.
The Gunners pushed for a way back into the game but could hardly have offered less in attack if they tried, and Brentford held on for what ended up being a routine victory.
Here’s how both teams rated on the night.
David Raya (GK) – 7/10 – Didn’t have many saves to make but really caught the eye with just how commanding he was in the air. He may be a smaller goalkeeper but Raya looked dominant when claiming crosses.
Kristoffer Ajer (CB) – 7/10 – As composed as ever. Dominant defensively but arguably more important as an overlapping centre-back. Seems a perfect fit for Thomas Frank’s system. Left the game with an injury in the second half.
Pontus Jansson (CB) – 7/10 – Led by example in defence. Won everything in the air and could be heard barking orders at those around him. Loved his battle with Balogun.
Ethan Pinnock (CB) – 8/10 – Played with such composure and intelligence. Knew when to stand up and when to go to ground, winning everything that came his way. Even got the assist for Canos’ goal.
Sergi Canos (RM) – 8/10 – Barely tested defensively and spent most of his time charging forward. Popped up on both wings and took his goal with real class.
Frank Onyeka (CM) – 7/10 – Another intelligent signing. Blessed with undying stamina, Onyeka led Brentford‘s press all evening long. Did nothing ground-breaking on the ball but kept his side moving forward.
Christian Norgaard (CM) – 8/10 – Subtly brilliant. Anchored Brentford’s midfield and completely pressed Xhaka out of the game. Couldn’t believe his luck for his goal.
Vitaly Janelt (CM) – 7/10 – Was everywhere all game long. So intelligent with the timing of his runs and pressing, swarming Arsenal as soon as they got on the ball. Clearly understands his job.
Rico Henry (LM) – 7/10 – Had absolutely nothing to do defensively and was allowed to focus on getting involved in attack. Looked as dangerous as ever.
Ivan Toney (ST) – 8/10 – Wasn’t involved in the box as much as he may have liked, but Toney was absolutely outstanding in the link-up. Created chances for everyone around him and held the ball up with ease. Had White in the mud throughout.
Bryan Mbeumo (ST) – 8/10 – Mari will be having nightmares of Mbeumo. Too fast and powerful for Arsenal’s defence and could have easily had two goals of his own before the break.
Mads Sorensen – 6/10
Mads Bidstrup – N/A
Marcus Forss – N/A
Bernd Leno (GK) – 4/10 – Didn’t do a lot wrong with his hands but was really shaky with the ball at his feet. Far too happy to play passes to team-mates in obvious peril. Invited pressure with his sloppiness.
Calum Chambers (RB) – 4/10 – Too slow to press Canos for the goal. Looked off the pace throughout and really struggled to contain Brentford out wide.
Ben White (CB) – 4/10 – Did not enjoy competing with Toney in the air and was not quick enough to deal with Mbeumo on the ground. Far too weak and clueless for the second goal.
Pablo Mari (CB) – 4/10 – Looked really flustered by Brentford’s high press. Sloppy on the ball and was visibly frustrated when everything went wrong.
Kieran Tierney (LB) – 7/10 – Arsenal’s most dangerous player by a long way (barely a compliment). Charged forwards a lot and whipped in some dangerous crosses, but couldn’t do it all on his own.
Albert Sambi Lokonga (DM) – 5/10 – Had a quiet first half as he struggled to deal with the press, and despite some nice flashes in the second half, didn’t do nearly enough.
Granit Xhaka (DM) – 4/10 – Really struggled with a lack of time on the ball and was too safe when he had the chance to make something happen. Seemed to religiously look for Tierney out wide even though better options were there.
Nicolas Pepe (RM) – 5/10 – Painfully isolated throughout, but didn’t do nearly enough to test Henry. Looked scared to go one-on-one but was constantly left to try.
Emile Smith Rowe (AM) – 6/10 – Had some really classy moments and was the only Arsenal midfielder who looked like he wanted to make things happen. A few neat passes but couldn’t create anything of note.
Gabriel Martinelli (LM) – 5/10 – Really struggled up against Ajer and actually ended up spending more time in a central role, where he was stepping on Balogun’s toes too often.
Folarin Balogun (ST) – 5/10 – Drafted in because of an injury crisis in attack, Balogun really struggled. Was too isolated but in his rare moments on the ball, he didn’t do nearly enough.
Bukayo Saka – 6/10
Reiss Nelson – 5/10
Nuno Tavares – N/A