Arteta lauds ‘superb’ Arsenal standout after revealing why Brentford heroics almost didn’t happen; Xhaka explains why this season is different

Mikel Arteta applauds Arsenal fans

Mikel Arteta hailed William Saliba after detailing how he went above and beyond against Brentford, while captain Granit Xhaka explained what’s changed compared to previous seasons.

Arsenal ran out comfortable 3-0 winners over Brentford to ensure they sit top of the pile heading into the international break.

William Saliba opened the scoring from a corner when glancing Bukayo Saka’s cross in off the far post. The young Frenchman is finally making his mark at Arsenal and broke his silence on his three-year wait pre-match.

Gabriel Jesus doubled the advantage inside half an hour when heading home Granit Xhaka’s superb delivery.

Any hopes of a Brentford comeback were quickly extinguished just four minutes after the break.

Summer signing Fabio Vieira rifled a left-footed strike in off the post from outside the area.

With the three points in hand and Brentford resigned to their fate, there was even time for Mikel Arteta to break a record in injury time.

Arteta brought 15-year-old Ethan Nwaneri on from the bench who became the Premier League’s youngest ever player in the process.

The previous record was held by Harvey Elliott during his time at Fulham. At just 15 years and 180 days old, Nwaneri smashed the record by over half a year.

Arteta references last year’s humbling

Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Arteta said: “The natural thing to do after [Arsenal’s 2-0 opening day defeat to Brentford last year] is to describe it as a really bad day.

“But I described it as a character building day. That’s very different and a team has to evolve and has to go through those moments and has to react.

“They can’t give up and question everybody and blame other people. They have to look in the mirror and take the lesson and move forward and today you’ve seen a very different team.”

When it was put to Arteta that very few teams have “controlled” Brentford at home as well as Arsenal did today, he continued: “[It’s] very difficult because they don’t need much to get you in a difficult rollercoaster of actions where you’re constantly under pressure.

“They have a magnificent crowd and are really good at what they do, but we managed to take the game to where we wanted. Credit to the boys for doing it.”

Saliba barely trained in last 10 days

On Saliba whose goal opened the scoring and is finally making his mark after a frustrating three-year wait, Arteta continued: “He’s been superb.

“He hadn’t trained for 10 days. He had some discomfort and he’s only had one training session and he comes in and competes the way he did.

“The ugly part of the game too, especially the parts people won’t recognise too much. He deserves some credit.”

Arteta utilised his depth against the Bees with Vieira getting the nod after Martin Odegaard missed out with a knock.

On his squad as a whole including record breaker Nwaneri, Arteta said: “It tells you that every individual player has a journey and William’s [Saliba] is one and is very different to the one Fabio [Vieira] is having or the one that Ethan [Nwaneri] is going to have.”

Finally, Arteta was pressed on Arsenal returning to the top of the table and responding to Man City’s 3-0 cruise against Wolves on Saturday.

“This is what we wanted,” he concluded. “We talked before the game about having the opportunity to get back.

“Yesterday they [Man City] took it away from us, we want it back and we had to show desire from the first minute and we’ve done it.”

Xhaka on Arsenal turnaround

Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka also spoke to the press, telling Sky Sports: “We have a different mentality this season.

“We kept going and are training like we play and have class with the players that can make a difference.

“You have the class in the front and they make the difference. More than happy we are in a good way but a long way to go.”