Arsenal banish ghosts of Brentford with dominant display to emphasise rapid evolution under Mikel Arteta

·3-min read
 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

What a difference a year makes.

When Arsenal came to Brentford for the opening match of last season they were in disarray and duly slumped to a 2-0 defat.

A Covid outbreak on the eve of the game had disrupted their preparations but Arsenal were struggling anyway as their transfer business was far from complete.

Mikel Arteta’s current team looks unrecognisable from the one which lost in west London just over 13 months ago - and that was underlined by their victory against the Bees on Sunday.

Arsenal were 3-0 winners and that was no more than they deserved as they put in an utterly dominant performance. Arteta’s side controlled the match for long periods, which is becoming a familiar theme this season.

In the past, Arsenal’s games felt like rollercoaster rides but now the team looks balanced and composed.

This win here at Brentford took them back top of the Premier League after seven games and there is a real sense that Arteta’s project is finally ready to take off.

Arsenal showed their intent from the off against Brentford and, even without the likes of Martin Odegaard and Oleksandr Zinchenko due to injury, they played with confidence.

In the end it was William Saliba who gave them the lead, heading home from a Bukayo Saka corner after 17 minutes.

It was no more than Arsenal deserved and Saliba’s bright start to life in north London has coincided with the Gunners’ fine start to this season.

Another new arrival, Gabriel Jesus, has had an equally impressive impact and he doubled Arsenal’s lead just before the half-hour mark.

This, however, was no set-piece goal but instead the culmination of a brilliant, flowing move that started deep in Arsenal’s half. Jesus ended up finishing it off, powering home a header from Granit Xhaka’s dinked ball.

Xhaka was everywhere for Arsenal during the first-half and the sight of him in the captain’s armband, with the fans singing his name, emphasises the scale of this rebuild under Arteta.

The question was whether Arsenal could maintain their dominance for another 45 minutes as surely Brentford would come out fighting after the break.

Thomas Frank’s side have made the Gtech Community Stadium a fortress and plenty of sides have come here and struggled. Just ask Manchester United or, for that matter, Arsenal themselves.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The Gunners, however, did not let up after the interval and started the second-half in perfect fashion.

Saka darted down the right, cutting in and laying the ball to Fabio Vieira - who was making his first Premier League start. Sizing up his options, the Portuguese decided to let fly and the ball smashed in off the post.

That knocked the stuffing out of Brentford, who had been unable to play out from the back all game.

They finished the game with just 36 per cent possession and the closest they came to a goal was in the 71st minute when Mikkel Damsgaard was played in but Aaron Ramsdale came out quick to deny him.

The final whistle marked a dominant display from Arsenal and one that surely banished the painful memories from a year ago.