Brentford manager Thomas Frank claims Arsenal are emerging as the side most likely to challenge Manchester City for the Premier League title this season – and believes one of their stars does not get the credit his performances deserve.
The feel-good factor is back at Arsenal after an excellent start to the season. Mikel Arteta’s men were top of the Premier League heading into this weekend after five wins from their first six games. And while Manchester City usurped them after their demolition of Wolves on Saturday, Arsenal can reclaim top spot with a win over Brentford on Sunday.
Arteta and Co spent well over £100m once again this summer, the second year in a row they have done that. However, their policy of only signing young, hungry and talented players appears to be standing them in good stead.
And with still the second average Premier League starting XI this season behind Southampton, the future bodes very well for Arsenal.
Bees manager Frank is a huge admirer of the progress they have made. As such, he knows his side will have a huge job in containing the resurgent Gunners on Sunday lunchtime.
“We are playing against a very good side,” said Frank.
“When we beat them a year ago, I think they were not in the same place as they are now. It was still a fantastic win for Brentford against a club as massive as Arsenal and against top players.
‘Doing it on Sunday would be completely different because for me, now, after [Manchester] City, they are the best performing team in the league.”
Frank in awe of Martin Odegaard
The Bees boss added: “Maybe, in spells, they’ve been the best performing team over the first six games. I think they’ve been remarkable, especially the intensity they play with.
“I’ve watched a lot of their games, not live, but I remember being sat there on the Friday night for their opening game of the season watching them against Crystal Palace.
“I was thinking, ‘What?! That’s another level’. For the first 20 minutes, Crystal Palace didn’t touch the ball. And I thought they could win the Premier League.
“I think they’ve been fantastic. I think the players are growing, they’ve got the right players in.”
Asked which players have stood out for him, Frank named three Gunners stars who had caught his eye. And he reckons one of them, in Martin Odegaard, is quickly emerging as one of the Premier League’s outstanding talents.
“I know [William] Saliba came back, [Gabriel] Jesus has been a fantastic signing, and I think [Martin] Odegaard, the way he plays at this moment in time, [Kevin] De Bruyne is a decent player, but he’s not far off him in terms of performances.”
Brentford a test of Arsenal’s title mettle
It’s early days in the season to be talking about Arsenal as potential title contenders, but the start they have made is certainly encouraging.
They have clocked up wins so far against Palace, Leicester, Bournemouth, Fulham and Aston Villa – games you might expect them to win. They did, however, come up short in their first serious test in the shape of Manchester United.
Brentford away also represents a serious challenge for Arsenal. The Bees marked their first match in the Premier League with a memorable win over the Gunners.
And their form at the Brentford Community Stadium has been excellent so far. They put four past Manchester United in a famous win, while registering a 5-2 win over Leeds there last time out.
But if Arsenal can go there and win it will underline their prospects of pushing hard this season.
Whether that amounts to a title challenge remains to be seen. The main focus for now, though, will be to keep winning as many games as possible and see where that can take them.
But as it stands, the club will be hoping for a top-four finish and a return to the Champions League at the minimum.