Arsenal cruise past Brentford to return to Premier League summit

Gunners clinch 3-0 win and give debut to 15-year-old Ethan Nwaneri

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Arsenal climbed back to the top of the Premier League and avenged last year’s humbling at Brentford with a clinical 3-0 victory.

The Gunners were back at the scene of their dismal opening-day defeat last season, which pre-empted their worst start to a campaign for 67 years.

But they are a different team this term and proved it with an organised, inventive display and three well-taken goals from William Saliba, Gabriel Jesus and Fabio Vieira.

Such was Arsenal’s dominance that Mikel Arteta could even afford to give 15-year-old midfielder Ethan Nwaneri a late run-out as a substitute, making him the Premier League’s youngest player.

Arsenal skipper Granit Xhaka told 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."

Brentford put four past Manchester United and five past Leeds at the Gtech Community Stadium in recent weeks, but they could not lay a glove on Arsenal with England new boy Ivan Toney an isolated presence in attack.

Gabriel Martinelli had already passed up a good chance when the Gunners took the lead in the 18th minute, Saliba’s glancing header from Bukayo Saka’s corner bouncing off the inside of the far post.

Bees keeper David Raya tried to scoop it out but the ball was well over the line and referee David Coote’s watch buzzed to indicate a goal.

Ten minutes later Jesus doubled the lead with another header, this time from a neat chip into the box from Xhaka.

The second half began in a similar vein and when Saka laid the ball off to Vieira 25 yards out, the Portugal midfielder – on his first Premier League start since his £34 million switch from Porto – took aim and curled a superb finish in off the post.

Toney’s only real chance came with a free-kick, from around the range in which he fired home the second goal of his hat-trick against Leeds.

This time the 26-year-old flicked the ball up before taking aim and sent his shot narrowly over the crossbar.

Having set two goals up, Saka fancied one himself but he was denied from the edge of the box by a flying save from Raya.

Toney had tweeted “nice kickabout with the boys” in the aftermath of last season’s win, a message that infuriated Arteta.

The Arsenal fans were quick to remind the striker, ending the match with a rendition of “Ivan Toney, a stroll in the park” while celebrating heading into the international break on top of the league.

Brentford defender Ben Mee told Sky Sports: "We never got going. It's difficult to put your finger on it. It's the first time that has happened to us this season. They kept the ball well and came back at us. It's tough.

"They were motivated to come here and get one back on us after last season. There are always things we can work on. We will see what we can do better. It's been a positive start to season and we will build on it."

Updated: September 18, 2022, 2:02 PM