Arsenal got their new season off to the worst possible start on Friday night when they crashed 2-0 at Premier League newbies, Brentford.
In the grand scheme of things, there are and will be worse teams to lose to than Brentford and this game seemed almost destined to be a Bees win from the minute the fixture computer spat it out, but this was still a painful night for Arsenal, Arsenal fans, and, I’m sure, Mikel Arteta.
Without Gabriel, Thomas Partey, Alexandre Lacazette, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal struggled at the front and at the back, while the bit in the middle wasn’t the best, either. But let’s not pretend like it wasn’t this way in large parts of last season, too, especially when it comes to being a goal threat, regardless of the personnel.
Arsenal managed 22 shots on Friday night, which is almost prolific by their standards, but only four of them were on target, just one more than Brentford, who only had eight shots on total. That’s an ‘on target’ rate of 37.5% for Brentford but just 18% for Arsenal.
“It’s a very disappointing night,” Mikel Arteta said after the match. “We needed to start in a very different way. The performance in the two halves was different. In the first half, we had periods where we weren’t ourselves. We got in trouble pretty easily in different ways with the long balls and the second balls.
“We were very disappointed with that. We reacted in the second half after going 1-0 down, when the crowd was right behind them. We created a lot of situations but not enough threat or shots on target to win a football match.
“When you concede a goal on a long throw, it then becomes a big task. Congratulations to Brentford on what they did, on what they’ve done to be where they are and for the fantastic crowd that they have right behind the team.
“We have to react, not find any excuses about players that weren’t here or our injured players, and look at ourselves and raise the level.
“All the young players that played today – Flo had his debut, Gabriel Martinelli hasn’t played for a long time as he’s been with Brazil – they tried their best and it wasn’t enough [to get a result].”