Thomas Frank’s high-flying Brentford take the short travel to fellow London neighbours and league leaders Arsenal on matchday 23 of the Premier League. The Bees are unbeaten since the league resumed after the World Cup break and have won 4 of their 6 games played since.
Mikel Arteta’s men succumbed to a surprising 1-0 defeat last time out at Goodison Park against Everton in a game which saw Sean Dyche make his debut as the Toffees’ boss. Their bitter rivals’ Tottenham Hotspur defeated Manchester City at the weekend which means the Gunners still maintain their 5 points at the top with an extra game in hand over the Citizens and could extend that lead to 8 points against Brentford.
It’s been a recent resurgence in performances that has seen the Bees sit comfortably in 7th spot within the European places. A 2-2 draw against Spurs away from home followed by a brilliant performance against Liverpool which saw them win 3-1, Thomas Frank and Co. have stepped up their performances and can start dreaming of European football if they manage to continue this impressive run of form.
When and Where?
Date: 11th February 2022.
Time: 3:00 PM GMT.
Venue: Emirates Stadium.
Referee: Peter Bankes.
Assistants: Eddie Smart, Nick Greenhalgh.
Fourth Official: Simon Hooper.
VAR: Lee Mason.
Assistant VAR: Adrian Holmes.
Gabriel Jesus has returned to the training ground and is in rehabilitation after picking up a knee injury which has kept him out for a couple of months. He should return to first team action in a few weeks. Mikel Arteta will be without Mohamed Elneny and Emile Smith Rowe as the former is ruled out for the season after undergoing a surgery and the latter is nursing an injury setback. Reiss Nelson is available for the Gunners and could come off the bench, although Mikel didn’t give too much away about this in his pre-press.
Frank Onyeka and Shandon Baptiste are doubtful for the trip to North London as the duo picked up a thigh and groin injury respectively. Pontus Jansson remains the only player who will not be available for Thomas Frank as the rest of the squad is fit barring any last minute injuries. The Bees could line up with the same XI which started in the 3-0 win against Southampton last time out as Thomas Frank will be out to avenge the 3-0 loss against the Gunners earlier in the season in the reverse fixture.
Arsenal will have to brush off their last weekend’s performance and start afresh for the challenge that an in-form Brentford side poses in front of them. The Bees have conceded just 3 goals in their last 6 games with 4 consecutive clean sheets heading into the fixture and their resilient defense looks impenetrable. Arteta has a task at hand to find a solution to this problem as the Everton defence, which defended very deep and compactly, couldn’t be broken down by the Gunners’ attack at the weekend.
With 15 shots in total, 3 shots on target and 71% possession Arsenal would have been disappointed by their attacking output even though the likes of Martinelli and Saka were constant threats on the flanks. Leandro Trossard could be in contention to start ahead of Martinelli as the new signing from Brighton has looked lively and well-settled in the side after his impressive debut against Manchester United. The Belgian has 7 goals to his name this season, level with his Brazilian teammate, but will offer a much-needed freshness to the Gunners attack.
The Emirates has been the league leaders’ fortress as they remain unbeaten at home so far in the league. Brentford have the 3-1 win at home against Liverpool and the 2-1 win away at Manchester City to draw inspiration and cause another twist to the title race. Nothing less than a perfect performance can help the Bees derail the Gunners’ title charge and continue their push towards the European places.
Brentford have conceded the highest number of chances down the middle and are ranked 19th for the same. Arsenal will have Nketiah and Odegaard operating extensively in this area making them their two X-factors for this one. Nketiah has enjoyed a lot of first-team minutes ever since Gabriel Jesus picked up his knee injury and has repaid Arteta’s trust with dividends. The Englishman has scored 4 goals in 6 starts for his side and could increase his goal-scoring tally against the Bees. His linkup with club captain Odegaard has helped the likes of Saka and Martinelli/Trossard thrive and this could be much needed to break the stubborn Brentford defence.
The 26-year-old has scored 13 goals in 19 games so far and is the third-highest goal scorer in the league this season behind Harry Kane (17 goals) and Erling Haaland (25 goals). He has only registered 3 assists this season but his involvement in the Bees’ buildup and his ability to hold play up top has helped Thomas Frank tremendously this season as it allows his midfielders and wingers to link up with Toney. The Arsenal defence will have to defend tight and make sure the striker is given any time on the ball to create chances or have a shot on goal himself.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1) – Ramsdale; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Xhaka, Partey; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Nketiah.
Brentford (4-3-3) – Raya; Hickey, Pinnock, Mee, Henry; Dasilva, Norgaard, Jensen; Mbeumo, Toney, Wissa.