Arsenal defeated Brentford 3-1 to progress to the next round of the League Cup on Wednesday, in a game that was a lot closer than the first-half suggested it would be.
Arsenal came out of the traps quickly at the start of the match, and took the lead in the first five minutes. For the remainder of the half the Gunners dominated, and scored a second before the break.
When the two teams came back out though, Brentford looked like they had nothing to lose, and really put Unai Emery’s team under pressure. Fortunately Arsenal maintained a 2-1 lead until the 93rd minute, when Alexandre Lacazette killed the game with a third.
Let’s have a look at how the players did individually.
1Goalkeeper and Defence
Bernd Leno 7
In general, this was a good game from Leno, but he made a couple of mistakes. Firstly letting the ball out of his sight to slip off the pitch early on, gifting Brentford a corner.
Then, for the goal, it seemed like the free-kick went a little central for the goalkeeper not to get a touch. However, the wall perhaps could’ve done better too, making it easy for Judge to get power on it from close range. Other than that Leno built from the back well and made a couple of good saves.
Stephan Lichtsteiner 6.5
It’s no surprise that Lichtsteiner looked ready to fight every battle, even in a League Cup game against lower league opposition. He still doesn’t seem to have found his feet completely in this Arsenal side though, and picked up a booking for a foul when a Brentford player was getting away from him mid-way through the first half.
Rob Holding 7.5
Holding looked by far the more composed of the two central defenders and had a very solid game. He did particularly well covering for a couple of Mustafi mistakes, and there was nothing he could do about the goal. You’d think the 23-year-old must be edging his way into Emery’s first-choice side at this point.
Shkodran Mustafi 6
Mustafi, on the other hand, looks like he’s edging his way out. Outperformed by Sokratis for the first few weeks of the season, the German is now looking just as shaky alongside Holding. There was one particularly poor moment where he gave the ball away and then fell over trying to defend the resulting attack. Fortunately Holding was covering.
In Mustafi’s defence, he did then step it up towards the end and won a couple of aerial duels to see out the match. It’s hard to see how you could leave Sokratis or Holding out for him now though.
Nacho Monreal 7
We expected Monreal to get a rest on this occasion, but instead he played the full 90 minutes. Whilst I’m not convinced that running the Spaniard into the ground is the best strategy, he performed well. His overlapping run in behind led to Arsenal’s second goal.
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