Pre-Match Report

Preview: Arsenal v Brentford

Arsenal v Brentford

After successive defeats in the north-west, we return to Emirates Stadium on Saturday looking to get back to winning ways at the expense of Brentford.

Home comforts may prove to be beneficial for us with the Bees’ only victory from eight trips to N5 coming all the way back in 1938, but this time they head across the capital unbeaten in nine league matches - a run which stretches back to October - and top of the Premier League form table.

That is thanks in part to a much-improved defence aiming to keep four consecutive clean sheets as a top-flight side for the first time, and having beaten both Manchester clubs and Liverpool so far this term, Thomas Frank’s team should be underestimated at their peril.

Bees creating plenty of buzz

Brentford celebrate beating Liverpool

Having impressed last term by finishing 13th in their first campaign back in the top flight for 74 years, the Bees are showing all the signs they’ll improve on that this time around.

They go into this weekend seventh in the table after an impressive first half of the campaign. Back in August they convincingly beat Manchester United 4-0 and, after a mixed bag of results over the following couple of months, they have really hit their stride in recent matches.

Frank’s side claimed a last-gasp 2-1 win at Manchester City before the World Cup break, and went two goals in front before drawing with Tottenham Hotspur following the resumption. They have won five of six since then, including a 3-1 win against Liverpool - and they netted another another three against Southampton last weekend.

What the managers say

Thomas Frank

Frank on taking his team to Emirates Stadium:

“I always believe that we can win, but - and it’s a big but - we’re facing Arsenal who are top of the league. They have been going from strength to strength and they are in a fantastic position. It’s well deserved that they are top of the league. They look in sync and they have all their key players fit and available. At home they play with an unbelievable intensity. To get anything out of this game we need to top perform. We’ll probably need the best performance we’ve ever put out in a Premier League game.”

Arteta on the challenge Brentford will provide:

"Many different ones - the ones they put in every week to every single opponent. The level or where they are sitting in the table doesn’t matter - they are extremely efficient at what they do, with a very clear way of playing and generating advantages, overloads and sequences of play. That they want to do. That will be the game tomorrow and we’ll need to be at our best in every single phase, because they can create issues from anywhere on the field."

Talking tactics

Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo celebrate a goal

Michael Cox, writing in the official matchday programme: Frank switches between 4-3-3 and 3-5-2, but tends to use the latter formation in matches against strong opposition. The use a back three allows the wing-backs to push forward, sometimes combining well with long switches to the far post. Rico Henry has been superb down the left, while the hard-working Mads Roerslev is usually used as the wing-back on the opposite side, although Aaron Hickey’s return from injury provides another option.

In midfield, Christian Norgaard is an excellent holding midfielder capable of playing direct passes into attack. Ahead of him, Mathias Jensen drifts around and often finds himself in crossing positions, while Josh Dasilva, who spent 12 years with us, has an eye for a spectacular.

All three of Brentford’s attackers deserve to start on current form, but Frank will have to omit one of them if he opts for 3-5-2. Ivan Toney has scored 13 goals in 19 starts this season and is excellent at spinning in behind, although can also drop deep to prod balls over the defence. Bryan Mbuemo was outstanding last weekend with his passing as well as his running, meaning Yoane Wissa is more likely to be used from the bench.

But Brentford’s attack is about more than individuals. They press excellently as a unit, play clever balls around the corner for runners and they’re a major threat from corners and throw-ins. They won’t dominate possession, but they’ll offer a serious attacking threat.

Team news

Emile Smith Rowe in action against Oxford United

Emile Smith Rowe is unavailable after missing the past two matches through injury, while Gabriel Jesus, Reiss Nelson and Mohamed Elneny also remain out.

Bees defender Shandon Baptiste may return to the visitors' team for the first time since October after recovering from a groin problem.

Frank Onyeka is back in training after a hamstring injury, while Pontus Jansson has played just a minute of football since the World Cup break after suffering with the same issue - though Saturday's match is set to come too early for both.

Facts and stats

William Saliba scores against Brentford

We are looking to complete a league double over Brentford, following our 3-0 win earlier this season. The Bees would be the 47th different club we have beaten home and away in the same Premier League campaign, more than any other side.

We have won our last seven London derbies, with all of those taking place this season. Only once before have we ever had a longer such winning run, with nine in a row coming between April 1988 and February 1989.

Our last two league goals conceded have come from corners – just one of the first 15 this campaign came in that fashion. Meanwhile, no side has scored more goals from set-piece situations in the Premier League than Brentford (14), including a league-high five penalties.

Since the start of last season, Eddie Nketiah has scored more goals at the Emirates Stadium in all competitions than any other player, with those 13 coming in his last 13 home starts.

With four goals and eight assists, no player has been involved in more Premier League London derby goals since the start of last season than Bukayo Saka (12), who has six in his last six such matches, including two assists in the reverse fixture.

Match officials

Peter Bankes

This will be a first encounter with Peter Bankes since April 2022 when we were beaten 1-0 by Southampton, which is one of only six Gunners games he has taken charge of.

We have won four of those, with the two defeats coming at St Mary’s Stadium. His last appearance at Emirates Stadium was back in May 2021 when we beat West Bromwich Albion 3-1, and interestingly he hasn’t awarded a penalty or red card in his 11 Premier League appointments this term.

  • Referee: Peter Bankes
  • Assistant Referee 1: Eddie Smart
  • Assistant Referee 2: Nick Greenhalgh
  • Fourth Official: Simon Hooper
  • VAR: Lee Mason
  • Assistant VAR: Adrian Holmes

Recent meetings with Brentford

Last season saw the Bees make their first league visit to our ground since 1946. Second-half goals from Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka put us in control of proceedings, before a late Christian Norgaard strike ensured a nervy finish.

Brentford’s first visit to Emirates Stadium came in the League Cup back in 2018/19, when Danny Welbeck netted a brace before Alexandre Lacazette wrapped up a 3-1 success for us against the then-Championship side.

Breakdown Live

Breakdown Live

This weekend will see Gunners legends Lianne Sanderson and Paul Davis drop into the studio to give their opinions on the action and chat about their careers, and actor Micheal Ward will join them to chat about why he became a Gooner.

Adrian Clarke will evaluate our victorious trip to the Brentford Community Stadium last September to uncover ways we can repeat the feat, before the team hand over to Dan Roebuck and David Hillier to provide live commentary of all the on-pitch action.

It'll be a must-watch wherever you are in the world, so just log on an hour before kick-off on Saturday for the perfect matchday build-up for any Gooner!

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