Mikel Arteta pleased to avenge last season’s ‘character-building’ Brentford loss

·3-min read

Mikel Arteta was happy to banish the nightmare of last season as Arsenal went back to the top of the Premier League with a clinical 3-0 victory at Brentford.

The Gunners were back at the scene of their dismal 2-0 opening-day defeat last season which pre-empted their worst start to a campaign for 67 years.

But they are a different animal this term and proved it with an organised, inventive display and three well-taken goals from William Saliba, Gabriel Jesus and Fabio Vieira.

“I’m really pleased with the performance and to win the match and go top of the league going into the international break,” said Gunners boss Arteta.

Fabio Vieira scored his first Arsenal goal
Fabio Vieira scored his first Arsenal goal (John Walton/PA)

“A lot of people described that day as embarrassing but I looked at it as a character-building day.

“You have to learn from those moments and then days like today happen. We are enjoying our football.”

Such was Arsenal’s dominance that Mikel Arteta could even afford to give 15-year-old midfielder Ethan Nwaneri a late run-out as a substitute, making him the Premier League’s youngest player.

The Gunners took the lead in the 18th minute, Saliba’s glancing header from Bukayo Saka’s corner bouncing in off the inside of the far post.

Ten minutes later Jesus doubled the lead with another header, this time from a neat chip into the box from Granit Xhaka.

Gabriel Jesus scored Arsenal's second
Gabriel Jesus scored Arsenal’s second (John Walton/PA)

The second half began in a similar vein and when Saka laid the ball off to Vieira 25 yards out he took aim and curled a superb finish in off the post.

It was a spectacular way for the Portugal midfielder to mark his first Premier League start since his £34million switch from Porto.

“He’s having a good progression because he missed pre-season due to injury,” added Arteta.

“But we know his talent and why we signed him and what he can bring to the team. He showed his character and his quality.

“He is a creative player, he needs to play with his instinct and we need to create as many scenarios as possible for him. The goal here and the way he went about the ugly part of the game, I was really impressed with.”

England new boy Ivan Toney cut an isolated figure in Brentford’s attack as a sarcastic tweet he sent after last season’s match, “nice kickabout with the boys”, came back to haunt him.

It was a message copied and tweeted by Gunners defender Gabriel after Sunday’s encounter.

Bees boss Thomas Frank said: “They are the in-form team in the division along with Manchester City so we needed to perform 10 out of 10 to get something, and we didn’t.

“They had to work very hard, which shows the respect they had for us, but it’s a fair and square win in the end and we wish them luck as title contenders.”

Frank’s future has been the subject of speculation after links with Brighton and Leicester, but he insisted: “It’s very simple. I’m here at Brentford and very happy.”