The 2021/22 EPL season kicked off at the Brentford Community Stadium between the newbies and one of the league’s oldest statesmen. It was the Bees who took the lead through Sergi Canos in the 22nd minute. It was a sweet strike from the edge of the Arsenal box after Calum Chambers failed to properly get rid of the ball.
The second exposed a familiar Arsenal failing. A long throw into the box was not well defended and with two Brentford players itching to knock it in, it fell to Christian Noergaard to score Brentford’s second goal.
All 11 men who started for Brentford were experiencing the EPL for the first time as starters while Arsenal had injury and illness to blame for naming a very young team that included Folarin Balogun- a debutant while Bukayo Saka started on the bench.
The Gunners had started the better and immediately won a corner kick from kickoff and had 60 per cent of ball possession in the first 10 minutes. But it was the Bees who could have taken the early lead when a knockdown from Ivan Toney fell to Bryan Mbeumo, whose right-footed shot went out via Bernd Leno’s left post.
Nigerian midfielder Frank Onyeka got his first taste of British football and acquitted himself very well, showing good tactical awareness to cover space and he still had time to try and get into the Arsenal box. He lasted 80 minutes before he left the pitch to enthusiastic applause.
Arsenal caved in at the first moment Brentford put in some consistent pressure and while the Gunners were good in the third quarter, they did not defend their half very well. A clearance, not well dealt with by Chambers, was headed back to Canos, who squared Chambers and beat Leno at his near post.
The stats do not make good reading for Arsenal when they go behind, especially from last season where in 14 matches that they conceded the first goal, they fell to 10 defeats. On Friday, they could not respond though not for want of trying, especially from Emile Smith-Rowe, who for the first 10 minutes of the second half led the Arsenal revival.
Arsenal have thus started the new season poorly after they ended last season in a dismal eighth position despite five consecutive wins to end the season. For a few hours, Brentford are top of the EPL with three points and a clean sheet.
At the end of 90 minutes, Brentford manager Thomas Frank was conducting the crowd to ‘we are top of the league’.The Bees show their sting very early – all opponents beware because Brentford are buzzing for the oncoming challenge.
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