Smith Rowe nets landmark goal as Arsenal gain revenge with dominant Brentford scalp
Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka scored the goals as Arsenal beat Brentford 2-1 to boost their hopes of a top-four finish.
Smith Rowe bagged just after the interval to become the first Arsenal player to reach double figures this season. And Saka ended an excellent move to make sure of the points later in the half. Mikel Arteta’s side dominated proceedings and were good value for the three points despite Christian Norgaard’s late consolation.
Arteta made a solitary change from the victory over Wolves last time out. Smith Rowe was given the nod to replace the suspended Gabriel Martinelli while Takehiro Tomiyasu made the bench.
Thomas Frank also made just one change to his starting XI as Josh Dasilva was handed a start in place of the benched Vitaly Janelt. The manager chose not to include Christian Eriksen who is still not ready for his competitive Bees debut.
Brentford pulled off a shock 2-0 triumph over the Gunners in their season opener and Arteta had warned his charges over complacency. And the hosts were fastest out of the traps at the Emirates Stadium.
Saka picked out Gabriel in just the third minute but the Brazilian’s header was easily dealt with by David Raya. And Saka then blasted into the side netting just five minutes later.
The home side were totally dominant but two claims for a penalty inside a couple of minutes were both waved away by VAR. Both Ben White and Alexandre Lacazette went down in the box but nothing was given.
In a frantic few minutes, the Frenchman also had the ball in the net but was denied by the offside flag.
There is an old adage in football that teams need to score when dominating or they might regret it later. And there was no denying that Arsenal were totally on top in north London.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) February 19, 2022
The Bees had to deal with wave after wave of Arsenal attacks but managed to keep the game scoreless at half-time.
They had a further penalty claim on 38 minutes when the ball appeared to hit Yoane Wissa’s arm. Referee Jon Moss said no, with the Arsenal fans making it abundantly clear what they felt of his first-half display.
Early second-half relief for Arsenal
It took Arsenal just three minutes of the second period to do what they could not in the first 45 as Smith Rowe opened the scoring. The 21-year-old cut back inside before bending his shot past Raya and into the corner of the net.
Brentford had barely had a look in on goal but they refused to buckle after going behind. And the contest became a bit spicy as the half progressed.
Cedric Soares caught Rico Henry before Gabriel and Pontus Jansson squared up to each other.
Thomas Partey then blasted high over the bar on 57 minutes while Saka shot straight at Raya from 25 yards three minutes later.
Arteta’s men could not find that all important second goal. And they were nearly caught out as Henry’s pass almost put Bryan Mbeumo through on goal.
Aaron Ramsdale dealt with the danger having been redundant for most of the afternoon.
Smith Rowe gave way to Nicolas Pepe with 15 minutes to go, receiving a warm round of applause from the Gunners faithful for his efforts.
The Bees still looked up for the fight but Saka ended the contest on 79 minutes. The England man began a counterattack before finishing the move with a superb strike.
Brentford were unhappy with a decision in the build up to the goal but VAR was not called on to adjudicate if Jansson had been fouled.
Christian Norgaard did manage to pull one back three minutes into stoppage time after a VAR check but it was too little too late.
Arteta will have been pleased with his side’s display but would have loved them to have killed off the game earlier.