Although the results in the pre-season games were not even close to the fan’s expectations, they all hoped that in a competitive game there would be a different display from the Gunners. To an extent, that competitive display was different, but for the worse. Arsenal players looked clueless as they lost 2-0 to newly-promoted Brentford.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette were both declared to be unfit and missed the opening game of the season. Arteta opted for Florian Balogun to lead the line with Gabriel Martinelli and Nicola Pepe on either side. Balogun and Martinelli were decent, to say the least, but there’s a reason Arsenal are paying their star frontmen a combined £500K per week. Arteta missed their services massively.
The root problem in Arsenal’s display however was not their forward players, but it was their transition of defence into attack. Albert Sambi Lokonga made his debut against Brentford but didn’t look out of place for long. Whereas Captain Granit Xhaka had a nightmare of a game. He opted to pass sideways for safe passage for the most part of the game. Kieran Tierney was available at every opportunity but his crosses reached nowhere. Emile Smith Rowe was reminiscent of Mesut Ozil but to the degree of the latter going missing in games.
Ben White was handed his league debut by Arteta against the Bees. He was probably the only shining light along with Kieran Tierney in defence. He read the game well and made a few recoveries worth mentioning. However, he was exposed by his fellow partners Pablo Mari and Calum Chambers on too many occasions.
Mari’s pace was always a concern for the Arsenal boss and that was vivid in the game. He was turned too easily at times and was run past on every occasion. Calum Chambers, on the other hand, was nowhere near his full fitness and that showed in the game. He provided no support for his wingman Nicola Pepe and was caught ball watching for the second goal.
Berndt Leno was nowhere near his best against Toney & Co. He left a massive gap in his near post for Sergi Canos’s opener. However the German might have a case to make regarding his liability for the second goal. He was pretty clearly fouled and the goal wouldn’t have stood on a different day.
Be that as it may, the Gunners welcome European Champions Chelsea in their second league game. Arsenal cannot afford to lose either Aubameyang or Lacazette in that game. However, Mikel Arteta will be hoping to sign an attacking player before the window closes to strengthen his team in the forward department.