An excellent attacking display resulted in a well-deserved victory away to Brentford.
We were the better side from the moment William Saliba headed us into the lead after 17 minutes, and the winning margin could have been even greater.
Gabriel Jesus added a second with a well-taken header before Fabio Vieira – on his first start in the Premier League – crashed home a third in the second half.
Ethan Nwaneri came on as a late substitute to make history as our youngest ever player – aged just 15 – as we went back to the top of the league in fine style.
After a minute’s silence, and rousing rendition of God Save the King, we got underway and had an excellent chance within two minutes. After a flowing move, the ball was worked towards Granit Xhaka in plenty of space inside the area. He picked out Gabriel Martinelli in a central position, but the Brazilian lost his footing at the vital moment, and his shot trickled through to David Raya in the Brentford goal.
After our bright start, we took the lead from our first corner of the game. Bukayo Saka swung the ball in, Saliba got across his marker and glanced a header across in the keeper and in off the post for his second of the season.
Raya tried to claw the ball away, but goal-line technology ruled it had gone in.
We soon increased the lead with another header. Again we built up the play really well, before Xhaka floated in a wonderful deep cross to the far post, where Jesus rose majestically to plant his header firmly back into the opposite top corner.
Saka flashed a shot over when he broke into the penalty area just moments later as we threatened to take complete control.
Brentford reminded us of their danger, especially from set-pieces, and put us under pressure with two or three successive long throws and corners, but our defence dealt well with the aerial assault.
Vieira announces his arrival
We continued in the same vein at the start of the second half, and Jesus had a shot blocked after wriggling free inside the box.
We didn’t have to wait long to increase the lead though. Bukayo Saka rolled the ball to Vieira, five yards outside the box. The Portuguese midfielder was afforded too much time by the home defence, so he shifted the ball onto his left foot, then arrowed his shot home off the post.
It was a superb way for the 22 year old to announce his arrival on his first Premier League start.
Mikel Arteta’s men kept the pace high in search of further goals, and dominated possession. The closest the hosts came was from a free-kick just outside the area. Ivan Toney flicked the ball up and looped a volley just over the cross bar.
Meanwhile, Raya made a good stop low down to prevent what would have been an excellent team goal, with the impressive Xhaka setting up Jesus in the box.
Raya then made a wonderful flying save to deny Saka when the England man’s curling shot was destined for the net.
A moment of history
As time ran out, Eddie Nketiah came on for his 100th Arsenal appearance, to join Jesus up front.
But it was another Hale End graduate coming on that made Arsenal – and Premier League – history. Nwaneri – aged just 15 and 181 days – came on to become our youngest ever player, breaking Cesc Fabregas’s record by nearly than a year.
He’s also now the first ever 15 year old to play in the Premier League, and he will always remember this historic – albeit brief – debut for the final few minutes at the Brentford Community Stadium.
And he can say he played his part in a victory that took us back to the top of the table. That’s six wins from our opening seven games, heading into the international break before an intense-looking October, featuring nine matches.
Facts and stats
We have won more Premier League games than any other team so far this season (6). It’s just the third time we have won as many as six of their first seven games of a Premier League campaign – previously doing so in 2004/05 and 2007-08 under Arsene Wenger (both six).
This was Brentford’s heaviest home defeat in the top-flight since May 1947, when they lost to Blackburn Rovers by the same scoreline.
We have won each of their last three London derby games in the Premier League, all of which have come during their first seven games this term (v Crystal Palace, Fulham and Brentford). This is the first time we've won three such games in a row competition since February-March 2015.
Bukayo Saka has been directly involved in 37 Premier League goals (18 goals, 19 assists), now the second-most of any player aged 21 or younger for the club in the competition, overtaking Nicolas Anelka (35) and behind only Cesc Fabregas (63).
Only Erling Haaland (12) has been directly involved in more Premier League goals than Gabriel Jesus this season (7 – four goals and three assists). Indeed, no Arsenal player has ever had more combined goals and assists through their first seven Premier League appearances.
Of the 19 players to have scored on their first start for us in the Premier League, Fabio Vieira is the first to have found the net from outside the box.
At the age of 15 years and 181 days, Ethan Nwaneri became the youngest ever player to appear in a Premier League match. The previous-youngest had been Harvey Elliott, who played for Fulham at the age of 16 years and 30 days (v Wolves in May 2019).
This brings an end to a truncated September schedule – the first September ever in which we didn’t play a home league game. The international players are now away with their national teams, and we’ll return to domestic action with the north London derby, at Emirates Stadium, on October 1.
That’s followed by two more home games, against Bodo Glimt in the Europa League, then Liverpool back in the Premier League.
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