Arsenal suffered a shock loss against Brentford to begin their Premier League campaign on a dismal note, with only a handful of bright spots in the side.
A team that keeps the ball well in its feet displays assured possession on most counts but have a slow tempo to progress the ball in advanced areas. This attribute cost Arsenal dearly against Brentford, who pressed hard to force the Gunners into committing mistakes.
Both of Brentford’s goals caused a bit of stir on social media over their legitimacy, but in hindsight, they have to stand. Arsenal cannot hide behind those excuses, and they did not. The Gunners went into the break trailing by a goal and came out refreshed, with purpose, especially Emile Smith Rowe and Kieran Tierney.
Arsenal tried numerous methods to force an attack, but Brentford stood tall to whatever they had thrown at them. Eventually, goals from Sergi Canos and Christian Norgaard condemned the north Londoners to an opening night loss, while their season already looks like a long one.
A few bright spots for Arsenal, with Ben White, Tierney, Smith Rowe, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Bukayo Saka all faring decently, albeit without an end product. The Gunners need to address their issues before the next game, a home fixture against Chelsea followed by a trip to Manchester City. Here are the Arsenal player ratings from the 2-0 defeat to Brentford.
Bernd Leno – 5/10
Plenty of nervy moments due to his uneven distribution and lack of decision-making were a bad enough start only to be beaten at his near post by Sergi Canos to open the scoring. Made some average saves, but it seemed like he has lost touch with being a commanding presence in his goal.
Calum Chambers – 4/10
Culpable for the first goal and showed why he might not fit the right-back role in the long run. Allowing Canos to take the shot and not being able to maintain positional discipline cost Arsenal. For the second goal, too, he was in the wrong place, leaving the far post open for Brentford to attack while failing to deal with the incoming throw.
Ben White – 5.5/10
White did not do much wrong on his debut. Showed assuredness on the ball, and his distribution was decent. However, there was no chemistry or understanding with Chambers which led to positional confusion multiple times. He can grow into this role, but Mikel Arteta would need to pair him with someone else than Mari.
Pablo Mari – 4/10
Mari was beaten for pace, pressed on too easily and seemed to lose composure every time under pressure. It was also his job to marshall the far post; instead, Norgaard found ample space to nod the ball in with ease. He is not the central defender Arsenal can rely on for a whole season. Gabriel needs to be in his place.
Kieran Tierney – 7/10
Arsenal’s best player on the pitch. He was a constant thorn for Brentford’s defence, as he tried to make things happen from an attacking perspective. He created some dangerous chances, although there was no one sharp enough to receive those moves for most parts. Also was the architect for Pepe’s shot, which David Raya saved.
Albert Sambi Lokonga – 5/10
Not the kind of debut one looks forward to. Lokonga’s performances were decent, but his inability to make any notable attacking contributions was the sticking point. Sambi’s defensive and positional awareness was fine and overall, he had a decent evening.
Granit Xhaka – 5/10
Granit Xhaka is the type of player who dictates the games tempo, and he, sure enough, slowed it down a bit today. His passing range found only Tierney for most of the game, as he either didn’t find or trust another outlet. Xhaka and Arsenal need Thomas Partey back in the fold imminently.
Emile Smith Rowe – 7/10
Like Tierney, Smith Rowe was also instrumental in whatever positive Arsenal did. He was always switched on and buzzing in his role. Created plenty of chances and carried the team alongside Tierney. Despite the disappointing result, we can expect plenty more good performances from Arsenal’s new No.10.
Nicolas Pepe – 6/10
Pepe fought throughout the evening, as he was crowded out for most parts on the right side. Had flashes at goal, while Raya saved a brilliant effort from him. He moved to a central role as Arsenal searched for an equaliser. The loss would disappoint him, but he had a good game nonetheless.
Gabriel Martinelli – 5/10
Anyone looking at Martinelli’s work on the ball would have given a low rating. His work off the ball was vital, as he took up good positions and back-tracked to help defensively. He alone pressed well, and his teammates should have taken a cue from his hard-working style.
Folarin Balogun – 4/10
On the one hand, Balogun was making his full Premier League debut; on the other, he was tasked with replacing both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Showed early flashes and good movement inside the box but overall fell short. He should learn plenty from this experience for more in this season.
Bukayo Saka – 7/10
Saka came on and instantly became the driving force in the attack. His quality immediately elevated Arsenal and probably gave them a chance to come back into the game. With him on the side, Arsenal can hope for a better season and hold a better chance of winning games with the young Englishman in the team.
Reiss Nelson – 4/10
Nelson was afforded a rare opportunity in the team, mostly due to the absence of regular players. His first pass to ‘nobody’ showcased the effects of his lack of game time in recent months. As first-team regulars come back, minutes will be hard to come by, while there is a chance of him leaving before the transfer deadline.
Nuno Tavares – N/A
Came on late to replace Chambers, and there was hardly any time to make any real impact.