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Brentford v Arsenal: Premier League – live | premier league

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A minute of silence for the Queen, followed by the national anthem.

Here come the teams, led by managers wearing crowns.

And how awesome to see the away supporters standing, officially.

If Brentford win that they go ninth; if Arsenal win this, they go top.

E-mail! “One of the Arsenal fan’s many general doubts, worries and concerns is the condition of Thomas Partey’s legs,” says Charles Antaki. “Are they fully functional, and if so, for how long? What happens when he can’t play and you don’t have anyone who can direct the ball, receive and return, lead and threaten? Lokonga sounds like a great prospect for the mid-future, but it’s all about the present, right? And especially not to be done by the Brentford midfielder.

Yes OK. When Arsenal struggled last season, the impact of their absence was, in my view, not fully recognised. I can’t wait to see him blaze on a succession of shots from 18 to 25 yards.

Arsenal warm up in their Jamaican flag shirt. This really is an exceptional leisurewear brand – 10 minutes at Carnival told me whoever invented this one knew exactly what they were doing.

Photo: Nigel Keene/ProSports/REX/Shutterstock

Arteta, wearing a school V-neck jumper with a tie underneath, Rangers style, tells us that Zinchenko and Odegaard are injured, and that Nwanieri is playing because ”We are quite short”. Sometimes hilarious gags write themselves.

Frank, meanwhile, confirms that he wants his team to be brave and aggressive, and that they want to turn the Community Stadium into “a fortress”. He knows Arsenal are good and doesn’t care that even before his England call-up, Ivan Toney was not lacking in confidence.

Back to Ethan Nwaneri, I didn’t realize he was 15. 15! Ouch of madness! What happened to the two-litre bottles of Strongbow in parks and on buses?

Paulie
Photography: HBO/Allstar

Arsenal, meanwhile, will be looking, I imagine, to defeat Brentford’s outside centre-backs, with the rears high and wide to keep the width. I’m sure they’ll miss Odegaard, whose ability to grab small passes on the feet is so important to them, but Jesus’ ability to occupy full defense will give Vieira a decent target.

The more I think about it, the more this game will be decided by how – or not – Gabriel and Saliba handle Toney and Mbuemo. The 5-3-2 makes a lot of sense in this context because even though Arsenal are improving I’m still not sold on their back four, and I dare say Brentford will also want to take a look at Ben White, out position at right rear.

Uh, Google has Pontus Janssen playing right of midfield in a 4-3-3. I’ll take the L if that turns out to be the case, but I don’t quite see it.

Is Aaron Hickey’s nickname “Bites yer neck”? Sorry.

It’s a London derby, so here’s a London anecdote: Last night I was at a hostel in Soho and was approached by two Welsh women wondering if I was from the area. They expected these establishments to be populated solely by tourists, so they were delighted to meet someone from the area; the film rights have already been optioned.

If Nwaneri makes his debut before September 14, 2023, he will break Fabregas’ record as Arsenal’s youngest player.

— Jeorge Bird (@jeorgebird) September 18, 2022

As for Arsenal, there is good news and bad news. We knew Oleksandr Zinchenko would be out – Kieran Tierney is a decent alternative – but Martin Odegaard is also out, and that’s a big loss. However, Thomas Partey is entering his latest comeback as a replacement for Sambi Lokonga, and I’m really looking forward to taking a look at Fabio Vieira, who looked good when he arrived at Old Trafford and seems to have a lot of potential.

There are quite a few things to do here. Brentford, who were so impressive in swallowing Leeds last time out, go from 4-3-3 to 5-3-2, bringing in Kristoffer Ajer and Josh Dasilva for Shandon Baptiste and Keane Lewis-Potter, the Premier’s first player League to have three surnames. Their ability to change formation in this way – they also went 5-3-2 against Manchester United – is a tribute to both Thomas Frank’s training and the intelligence of their players, and the contest between their Arsenal’s two forwards and centre-backs may well hold the key to this game.

Teams!

Brentford (a progressive 5-3-2): Raya; Hickey, Jansson, Ajer, Mee, Henry; Janelt, Jensen, Dasilva; Mbeumo, Toney. Subtitles: Canos, Wissa, Zanka, Ghoddos, Onyeka, Strakosha, Damsgaard, Baptiste, Roerslev.

Arsenal (a non-negotiable 4-3-3): Ramsdale; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka, Vieira; Saka, Martinelli, Jesus. Subtitles: Turner, Nketiah, Holding, Tomiyasu, Lokonga, Marquinhos, Smith, Nwaneri, Lino Sousa.

Arbitrator: David Coote (Nottinghamshire)

Preamble

Recency bias is a tedious thing, but please bear with me when I say this: in my 40 years of watching football and “this league” in particular, the level of entertainment has never been higher it is this season. I’m not sure there’s been a time in the past when I’ve been able to watch a game like ours this afternoon and be absolutely certain that we’re going to see a quality game of football, but watching our match this afternoon, I am absolutely certain that we will see a quality football match.

Brentford are a formidable, bristling, crafty and intense side, and also won this game early in the last term – in what, to Gary Neville at least, seemed like a watershed moment for both sides. As it happens, he was right about them but wrong about Arsenal, who lacked all sorts of players that night, but their physicality and candor will always pose interesting questions for Mikel Arteta’s men. In particular, I can’t wait to see how Gabriel and William Saliba handle Ivan Toney, but all over the pitch they have the players to make it a real contest.

Arsenal, meanwhile, are growing, having somehow turned break-in disappointment into pre-season momentum. I say sort of because it wasn’t a given or anything, but at the center of the change was the signing of Gabriel Jesus, a rare occasion when it was just plain obvious that a club had acquired a player absolutely perfect for his needs in every single aspect. But it’s not just him – Martin Odegaard has taken the leap, Granit Xhaka is reveling in his new advanced role and Gabriel Martinelli is improving.

This, however, brings pressure. This summer, Arsenal took comfort that, although last season ended in disappointment, important milestones had been reached; next summer will require solid proof, not just a small pleasant feeling. Brentford, meanwhile, might be content to survive, but now must take matters into their own hands and establish themselves as a Premier League staple, as they have everything they need for that – and more. It’s going to be good.

Kick off: 12pm BST

🗣 “There’s nothing worse than thinking your team is a little soft. Brentford looked at them and thought, ‘yeah, we’ll get you’, and that’s the worst feeling”

Gary Neville described Arsenal as ‘disturbed’ during their 2-0 defeat at Brentford 🔊🔛👇

— Sky Sports (@SkySports) August 14, 2021

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