The 2021/22 Premier League season kicks off with a London derby tonight as newly-promoted Brentford host Arsenal.
The Bees will be desperate to hit the ground running in their first ever Premier League game, and first in the top flight for 74 years.
Arsenal have got their summer business done early to plug gaps in the squad, and should hand out at least two debuts tonight, but Mikel Arteta will need a quick start to stop further questions over his future.
However, the Gunners have been hit by the absence of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette due to illness – that means Folarin Balogun and Gabriel Martinelli start in attack, with summer signings Albert Sambi Lokonga and Ben White handed their Premier League debuts for the Gunners.
The absence of Arsenal’s two key forwards will surely boost Brentford, and Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo will be likely key to their success this season.
Brentford vs Arsenal highlights
Show latest updates
59 mins: Mbeumo’s pace on the counter could be key for Brentford. He tries to chase down White here, but the Arsenal centre-back watches him and plays back to Leno.
58 mins: Arsenal have the momentum, and Arteta makes a change – Bukayo Saka is on for Balogun.
Saka receives a standing ovation from the Brentford fans – great to see.
57 mins: Pepe tries to shimmy away on the right of the box, but he too is crowded out.
55 mins: More pressure from Arsenal as Tierney hangs up a cross to the back post, but it’s too long.
Smith Rowe is very nearly in off a neat one-two, but is crowded out.
Still, this is much better from Arsenal.
Chance for Smith Rowe!
50 mins: A gorgeous run from Smith Rowe here, turning near the centre circle and driving at goal as the defenders back off.
He’s got options left and right, but shovels a shot at goal which Raya parries away.
Very tidy turn from Lokonga inside his own half here to start a counter. The move doesn’t fully form, but that was a graceful drop of the shoulder with good pace from the summer signing.
47 mins: Tierney drives the ball low across goal from the left, but Raya takes easily.
Still, the Arsenal left-back found space there.
We are back underway in west London. No changes from Arsenal, with Arteta presumably telling the XI out there to fix this mess.
Simon Collings at Brentford
The hosts lead, and should do more by to be honest. Arsenal looking so shaky at the back and fairly toothless in attack. Not an ideal combo. Big second half to come.
Half-time | Brentford 1-0 Arsenal
So far, so good for Brentford – they’re 45 minutes away from a dream result.
As for Arsenal, they are lacking ideas and have plenty of work to do.