Brentford boss Thomas Frank described Arsenal as title contenders after Fabio Vieira’s stunning goal helped the Gunners secure a 3-0 win at the Gtech Community Stadium which sent them top of the Premier League. Vieira, making his first Premier League start in the absence of the injured Martin Odegaard, rifled a long-range effort in off the post (49) to cap a commanding victory for Mikel Arteta’s men.
Earlier, the impressive William Saliba had opened the scoring with a flicked, near-post header from Bukayo Saka’s corner (17), before Gabriel Jesus doubled Arsenal’s advantage with a similarly well-taken header from Granit Xhaka’s diagonal centre (28).
The Gunners’ last visit to Brentford ended in a dismal 2-0 defeat on the opening day of last season but on this occasion they were totally dominant, the victory underlining their recent improvement and sending them a point clear of Manchester City and Tottenham at the top of the Premier League table.
“It was a well-deserved win for them,” Frank said of Arsenal. “You can see how hard they worked. I think they will do brilliantly. I think they compete for the title now.”
Arsenal even had time to create a piece of Premier League history in stoppage time as Arteta sent on academy player Ethan Nwaneri, who only turned 15 in March, to become the youngest-ever player to feature in the competition.
Brentford could not get a foothold in the game and Arsenal effectively ended it as contest soon after half-time when Vieira collected a Saka pass in space outside the Brentford box and unleashed a powerful strike that crashed in off the post.
The Gunners continued to dominate, with Raya twice denying Jesus and also making a superb one-handed save from Saka, but the three-goal cushion proved more than enough to take Arsenal top and there was more reason for the visiting fans to cheer when Nwaneri was thrown on in the closing stages.
“It was a pure gut feeling,” explained Arteta when asked about Nwaneri afterwards. “I met the kid and I liked what I saw. He has trained a couple of times with us and I had a feeling yesterday that if the opportunity came I would do it.”
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