Arsenal vs Brentford

Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw by Brentford at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday, February 11.

The Gunners have won three of their last five games, losing the other two by a narrow 1-0 margin to Manchester City and Everton respectively. Despite playing well in those defeats, Mikel Arteta’s men were unable to get anything from them. The Spaniard fielded an unchanged lineup for yet another gameweek as they looked to win.

Brentford, on the other hand, were proving to be one of the most solid defenses in the league of late. They had not conceded for over five hours prior to kick-off. Thomas Frank fielded a 3-5-2 formation to counter Arsenal’s attacking shape as he named a strong lineup.

Arsenal made a decent start to the game as they looked sharp in the initial exchanges. Brentford were no pushovers, though, as they too maintained good intensity and looked to attack early on. The visitors had two big chances in the first half, with Rico Henry firing wide and Ivan Toney smashing the crossbar.

The hosts had the bulk of possession as expected, but were often hit on the break by the Bees, who were relentless. The Gunners attempted multiple shots in the first period and even had a penalty shout waived as Bukayo Saka was clipped. However, nothing was given as he stayed on his feet rather than going down.

After an entertaining first half, the teams went into the break deadlocked at 0-0.

The Gunners made a decent start to the second period and looked to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Arteta was quick to assess the needs of the situation and brought Leandro Trossard into the game, a move which paid instant dividends. The Belgian got into a great position at the far post and was in the perfect spot as Saka crossed the ball for him to tap-in to make it 1-0.

However, their lead did not last long as Brentford continued to press and played aggressively. They did well to put the ball into the box from a set-piece and were sharp to win the second and third balls. Toney pounced on a flick by Christian Norgaard to equalize with just over 15 minutes left to play. The game was set up for a nervy finish.

Due to several stoppages, five minutes of added time was stretched to nearly nine. However, neither side could grab a winner as the game ended 1-1. On that note, here are the five talking points from the game.

#5. Brentford made an electric start to the game

Brentford showed great courage and character as they did not sit back and went toe-to-toe with Arsenal, who started the game with high intensity. This paid off for the visitors as they had two close misses in the opening exchanges.

Rico Henry had a chance to score but scuffed his shot wide of the target. Ivan Toney then got into a good position but rattled the crossbar with his effort as the Gunners were fortunate to get away with one.

#4. Mikel Arteta must rotate his lineup more

In the last couple of gameweeks across competitions, Arsenal have been found out and exposed tactically in multiple areas of the pitch. Two key areas are right-back and left wing, where Ben White and Gabriel Martinelli have been largely unconvincing in their recent outings.

Due to Oleksandr Zinchenko’s tendency to invert, Martinelli is forced to hold his width to engage the opposition’s defender or midfielder, allowing open spaces in central areas. This prevents the Brazilian from doing what he does best, cutting in from wide areas and creating chances in the box. Ben White, on the other hand, seems to be suffering with fatigue and could be rotated with Takehiro Tomiyasu.

#3. Arsenal seem to be entering a slump in terms of form

Over the last few games, it is evident that the Gunners seem to have lost the cutting edge that separated their style of play from the rest of the league. Teams seem to have figured out their combinations and are containing them better despite the Gunners’ speedy attack. This has made it hard for Mikel Arteta’s men to grind out results.

Last week, Arsenal had a tough time against Everton as their midfield was rigid and did not allow the Gunners to distribute the ball as they would like. They faced similar issues this week as Brentford maintained compactness and prevented the hosts from playing their natural game.

#2. Leandro Trossard scored his first Arsenal goal

Arteta made a timely substitution in the second period as he brought Leandro Trossard into the game just after the hour-mark. Saka, who had been troubling the Brentford defense from the right flank all game, drove in before cutting it across to Trossard, who was waiting to pounce at the back post. Despite the ball bouncing awkwardly, the Belgian applied the all-important finishing touch to make it 1-0 after 66 minutes.

It could not have come at a better time as it could potentially take Arsenal eight points clear at the top before Manchester City play tomorrow.

#1. The Gunners got away with one as Brentford faltered a bit

Brentford made a strong start to the game and finished strong as well. They scored an equalizer after 74 minutes and looked like scoring the winner after that as well. Despite getting into good positions to threaten Aaron Ramsdale’s goal, the Bees only managed two shots on target from nine total attempts.

Arsenal, on the other hand, were extremely wasteful. They attempted 23 shots, with just seven on target. Ten shots were off-target, while the others were blocked.

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