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Brentford 0-1 Arsenal: Player ratings as Havertz comes to the rescue

Arsenal left it late to beat a stubborn Brentford side 1-0 in Saturday’s all-London Premier League showdown at the Gtetch Community Stadium.

Both sides headed into the contest with esteemed runs in Premier League London derbies they were keen to protect. 

Unbeaten in 14 derby fixtures on the trot, the Bees were hopeful of recovering from a dismal 3-0 defeat at Liverpool before the international break.

Thomas Frank had a clear vision for this game – sitting deep, frustrating Arsenal forwards with a triple-block and searching for chances on the counter.

Lethal counter-attacking football has been Brentford’s hallmark under the Danish manager, and it nearly haunted the Gunners in the opening stages.

With David Raya ineligible for selection due to a loan agreement between the sides, Mikel Arteta turned to his former number one Aaron Ramsdale to fill the void between the sticks. 

However, the Englishman had a nightmarish start to the game, giving the ball away inside his six-yard box, only for Yoane Wissa and Bryan Mbeumo to throw away a massive chance.

Instead of going for glory himself, Wissa teed up Mbeumo. Despite being only a few yards out, he couldn’t slam the ball into the back of the net, as Declan Rice pulled off a heroic goal-line clearance. 


Arsenal quickly regrouped after that early setback, establishing complete control of the game. But barring wasteful lengthy spells of possession, they failed to trouble Mark Flekken. 

Last season’s Premier League runners-up enjoyed 69% possession in the first half. Yet they failed to muster a shot on target before the 40th minute when Leandro Trossard’s deflected effort bounced off Flekken’s gloves.

The Belgian forward thought he had opened the scoring moments later.

Bukayo Saka dispatched a teasing cross into the box, connecting Gabriel Jesus with the goal. However, Flekken thwarted the Brazilian’s free header. 

The ball dropped nicely for Trossard, who headed it behind the Dutch goalkeeper. Referee Tim Robinson disallowed the goal for offside after consulting with VAR.

Even though VAR offered him a lifeline, Frank refused to change his approach in the second half, with Brentford relinquishing attacking ambitions, hoping to draw 0-0.

For most of the game, it looked like Arsenal wouldn’t find a solution to the puzzle as the Bees’ well-organised backline limited their attacking threat to a bare minimum. 

Another lapse of concentration allowed the hosts to come close to breaking the deadlock. 

Brentford picked up a loose ball high up the pitch, with Neal Maupay’s thumping header being cleared off the line by Oleksandr Zinchenko’s acrobatic intervention. 

It proved a pivotal moment in the game. Soon after Maupay’s wasted chance, Arsenal grabbed the lead through second-half substitute Kai Havertz. 

Arteta waited until the 79th minute to bring the unsettled German forward into the fray, with the ex-Chelsea man repaying his manager’s kindness with a last-gasp winner. 

Saka’s deep cross to the back post found Havertz unmarked. But from a tight angle, he still had to squeeze the ball through the legs of Flekken with a lethal header. 

It wasn’t a pretty game, though it probably won’t bother Arteta after his side took advantage of today’s draw between Manchester City and Liverpool to return to the top of the standings. 

Brentford vs Arsenal Player Ratings

Brentford

Mark Flekken (8/10) – Enjoyed an impressive game before conceding an unfortunate late goal. 

Saman Ghoddos (8/10) – Back to the starting line-up after a long stretch on the fringes, defended against Gabriel Martinelli like a boss. 

Kristoffer Ajer (6/10) – Did well in the first half but ran out of steam after the break. Havertz gave him a slip to put the game to bed. 

Ethan Pinnock (8/10) – Reliable as ever, especially in the air. Gave Eddie Nketiah and Jesus a run for their money, making numerous vital blocks.

Ben Mee (7/10) – His intimidating aerial presence rendered most of Arsenal’s crosses irrelevant. 

Vitaly Janelt (7/10) – Deployed as a left-back again, had to deal with Saka’s pace and tricky feet but didn’t disappoint. 

Frank Onyeka (6/10) – Worked his socks off to help out at the back but had nothing to offer in the constructive sense. 

Christian Norgaard (6/10) – Not one of his most eye-catching performances, as significant defensive duties came at the expense of his offensive proclivities.  

Yehor Yarmolyuk (7/10) – Arguably the most eventful Brentford midfielder today, but his time on the ball was sparse.

Yoane Wissa (6/10) – Barring an early impact, spent most of the match as a marginal character. 

Bryan Mbeumo (5/10) – Erratic finishing wasn’t atypical for the quicksilver forward, but he should’ve done better with that early chance.

Substitutes

Neal Maupay (6/10)

Shandon Baptiste (5/10)

Zanka (6/10)

Keane Lewis-Potter (NA/10)

Arsenal

Aaron Ramsdale (5/10) – Lengthy spell on the sidelines inevitably took its toll. Today’s display justified Arteta’s decision to bench him. 

Takehiro Tomiyasu (6/10) – Dependable when asked to defend, making it up for a useless attacking showing.

William Saliba (6/10) – Had some shaky moments today and was lucky Gabriel was there to dig him out of trouble on several occasions.

Gabriel Magalhaes (8/10) – Barely put his foot wrong, using his perfect reading of the game to plug every hole at the back.

Oleksandr Zinechko (8/10) – His magical goal-line clearance was among the main reasons Arsenal walked away with three points.

Declan Rice (8/10) – Like his abovementioned teammate, stole the headlines with a theatric last-gaps defending to save Ramsdale’s skin. 

Martin Odegaard (6/10) – Back from injury, the Gunners captain looked a bit rusty. Despite touching the ball in almost every attacking movement, failed to make a difference.

Leandro Trossard (7/10) – Unlucky to be denied a goal with one of the highest margin calls in the Premier League this season. But his service into the box wasn’t always on point.

Bukayo Saka (7/10) – Often forced to deal with two or three Brentford defenders, showed his outstanding ability to escape from tight spaces. Picked up a crucial assist.

Gabriel Martinelli (6/10) – Had a lot of futile attempts to create something on his own. 

Gabriel Jesus (6/10) – Heavily involved in the build-up. However, his only assignment was to score, and he couldn’t put away a clear-cut chance towards the end of the first half.

Substitutes

Eddie Nketiah (5/10)

Kai Havertz (8/10) *MOTM*

Ben White (NA/10)

Jorginho (NA/10)

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