Two of the Premier League’s most in-form teams face off on Sunday, as Mikel Arteta hopes to keep his Arsenal side at the summit after facing Brentford.
It has already been a long time since the last time the ball was kicked in the Premier League after an enforced break due to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s demise. While the arrangements for the funeral have hampered a few matches this weekend, the clash between Arsenal and Brentford got the go-ahead from the authorities.
Thomas Frank will be eager to keep the momentum going after beating Leeds United at home in Brentford’s last clash. Ivan Toney took the match ball after a scrumptious hat-trick to crush the visitors, which has earned him a maiden call-up to the England squad for the upcoming round of international fixtures.
The English striker and the Brentford boss will be aiming to halt Arsenal’s form before the break. The Bees are at par with the Gunners and Manchester City as few of the in-form teams in the division, having scored 15 goals so far in the six games played, of which ten have come at the Brentford Community Stadium.
On the other hand, Arsenal bounced back from their first defeat of the season at Old Trafford with a decent win over FC Zurich in the UEFA Europa League last week. Debutant Marquinhos and young striker Eddie Nketiah got the goals in the victory, and Mikel Arteta will now be eager to get back on track in the Premier League.
Having won the Premier League’s Manager of the Month accolade for August, Arteta will be wary of the narratives going around and will be eager to avoid a repeat of the result from last season at this ground. The circumstances from that period are vastly different from where the Gunners stand right now, with the north Londoners coming into this clash in great form.
Arteta will aim to get three points against Brentford and go into the international break at the top of the Premier League. Arsenal will keep a close eye on Tottenham and Manchester City’s fixtures on Saturday, with the duo not far behind them, meaning any slip-ups may end up costing them. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
"I was going to call my mum but then dad wouldn't be happy, then I was going to call my dad but mum wouldn't be happy … so I video called the family group chat; whoever answered would be the first to hear" 🏴@IvanToney24 on his #ThreeLions 🦁 call-up#BrentfordFC | @England pic.twitter.com/SsSJSIkmjj
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) September 16, 2022
Thomas Frank will be keen to test his team in a different setup he has adopted this season. Brentford have shifted to a more attacking 4-3-3 style this season, moving away from their more pragmatic and defensive methods from last term.
Frank could shift into the new style with some specific players on the side, and so far, the results have been positive. The Brentford boss is not expected to make wholesale changes from the side that beat Leeds United two weeks ago, although there could be alterations.
Christian Norgaard and Ethan Pinnock are expected to remain sidelined until after the international break. Sergi Canos is a fitness doubt, but he could be expected to make the matchday squad. Former Arsenal academy star Josh Dasilva could be in contention to start and may displace Shandon Baptiste, although he faces competition from Frank Onyeka for a place.
Meanwhile, Keane Lewis-Potter will likely be replaced by Yoane Wissa in the starting eleven, with Wissa proving more of a threat in the final third than Lewis-Potter. He will join Bryan Mbeumo and Ivan Toney in the front three. Frank may end up with a midfield three comprising Saman Ghoddos, Vitaly Janelt and Mathias Jensen.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Raya; Hickey, Jansson, Ben Mee, Henry; Jensen, Janelt, Ghoddos; Mbeumo, Toney, Wissa
Arsenal are still reeling from their recent injury troubles, with as many as four players likely to miss the Brentford trip. Mohamed Elneny and Reiss Nelson are out with significant injuries, and there is no timeline for Emile Smith Rowe’s return.
As for Oleksandr Zinchenko, there are confusing reports. Arteta did not confirm any injury problems during his pre-match press conference, but Ukraine have omitted their captain from the international squad citing an injury as the reason.
💬 "We have options there and it’s great that players are comfortable doing more than one position."
🗞 Mikel on the benefits of White and Tomiyasu's versatility 👇#BREARS
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 16, 2022
Meanwhile, there have been conflicting reports on Ben White’s fitness, with multiple reports suggesting the defender is an injury doubt. Once again, Arteta did not confirm those stories, meaning the English defender, who missed out on an England call-up, is set for a start against the Bees.
Thomas Partey has provided a boost by returning to fitness in recent days. The Ghanaian international might have been in contention for the now-postponed Everton clash last weekend, meaning he could start against Brentford on Sunday. If that happens, Albert Sambi Lokonga could be back on the bench.
Not many changes are expected to the frontline, with all players, barring Smith Rowe, fresh and fit to start. Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Martinelli are all set to feature, with Gabriel Jesus expected to lead the line for Arsenal against Brentford.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; Ben White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Jesus
- Brentford have won five of their six home league games against Arsenal (L1), including a 2-0 victory in this exact fixture last term. Arsenal have won four of their last six meetings with Brentford in all competitions since 1939 (D1 L1), having won just one of their first nine against the Bees between 1902 and 1938 (D3 L5).
- Brentford are only behind Manchester City for goals scored (15) this season in the Premier League.
- Ten of Brentford’s 15 goals have come on home turf.
- Arsenal have gone four games without keeping a clean sheet in all competitions.
- Only Erling Haaland (11) has been directly involved in more Premier League goals than Brentford’s Ivan Toney so far this season (7 – 5 goals, 2 assists). Toney is averaging a goal or assist every 77 minutes in the Premier League this season, compared to one every 171 minutes last term.
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Despite multiple reports claiming White is an injury doubt for the weekend’s clash, there has been no indication from Mikel Arteta confirming those stories. The English defender has not done anything to suggest he might lose his right-back spot to Takehiro Tomiyasu, meaning he is in line to start.
The Brentford clash, coupled with the snub from Gareth Southgate, will have come at the right time for White to prove a point. Last season, he was criticised for his performances at this venue following his £50 million move from Brighton & Hove Albion, but the defender has grown into a different player altogether.
Brentford 1-2 Arsenal
Arsenal have been defensively solid this season, and the goals conceded so far have been attributed to errors. Mikel Arteta knows the threat Brentford pose with their crop of attackers and will be eager to tighten the screws at the back. But Arsenal are without a clean sheet in four games across all competitions, meaning they could be in line to continue the trend against the Bees.
Brentford have nine points from six games, although they have not faced an opponent of Arsenal’s quality so far. It will be a big test for Thomas Frank’s side to repeat the performance from last season. However, this Gunners side has different qualities and remains favourites to take three points on Sunday. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Arsenal.