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ROLE REVERSAL; Gunners gain revenge on Bees to close on top four.

Byline: IAN BAKER at the Emirates Stadium

ARSENAL 2 BRENTFORD 0 Smith Rowe 48, Saka 79

SUDDENLY six months seems a very long time ago for Mikel Arteta.

Arsenal were talked about as relegation contenders after three straight defeats at the start of a campaign that started with a horrible 2-0 defeat to Brentford.

And Arteta (right) was feeling the pressure.

But in yesterday's return they were far more impressive than this scoreline suggested thanks to Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka getting on target - with Gunners fans loudly singing their names to Rocking All Over The World at the finish.

Now they are now just a point off the Champions League spots with two games in hand to complete quite a turnaround in fortunes since August.

Arteta recalled: "It was an unbearable time. It hurt and we learnt a lot as a team.

"But we were united and that was a game-changer.

"No one was blaming each other, everyone wanted to contribute and no one was hiding. That transmitted to the staff.

"It's a long way to go but we are a bit closer to the top four.

"I'm very happy and we have to enjoy this journey.

"We want to win every game. We want a big purpose to the season. Things can change very quickly.

"Emile and Bukayo love their song, they are players who have been playing well in our system.

They take the responsibility and manage to win games - that is very impressive at their age."

'' It was unbearable time. It and we a lot as team. were

Arsenal have been helped by a lack of games - this was only a fourth Premier League fixture of 2022 for Arteta's men.

and that was a

But they played with such confidence and verve in attack.

And the only criticism is they should have had a hatful having had 24 shots in this match.

Saka side-footed into the side netting, then saw a deflected shot saved by David Raya after Alexandre Lacazette had gone down under two Brentford challenges.

Lacazette had a goal disallowed for offside and then headed over from Cedric Soares' cross before firing wide from an excellent position.

Brentford could not get out of their own half with Arsenal calling for a penalty when Cedric's shot appeared to catch Yoane Wissa's arm.

It was a major surprise that Arsenal did not find the net in the first half - but it took just three minutes to put things right in the second.

It was a fine goal - Smith Rowe drove down the left, cut in and fired low past Raya.

an

Arsenal secured the points 10 minutes from the end with Thomas Partey setting up Saka.

hurt learnt a But we united gamechanger

Their day did end in on a bit of a low as Christian Norgaard converted in injury time, with VAR awarding the goal after it had been originally ruled offside. Brentford severely missed Ivan Toney again and now sit only six points above the bottom three.

But boss Thomas Frank said: "Ivan is a big player for us, he should be available for Newcastle next week. We need that extra quality and Christian Eriksen will come into the team.

"We faced a very good Arsenal side, they showed why they have come quite far.

"They are big contenders for the top four."

HOW THEY RATED

ARSENAL: Ramsdale 6; Cedric 7, White 6, Gabriel 6, Tierney 7; Partey 7, Xhaka 6; Saka 8, Odegaard 8, Smith Rowe 8 (Pepe 75, 6); Lacazette 7 (Nketiah 84). Subs not used: Leno, Holding, Tomiyasu, Tavares, Sambi Lokonga 6, Elneny, Hutchinson.

BRENTFORD: Raya 7; Ajer 7, Jansson 7, Pinnock 7; Canos 6 (Ghoddos 84), Dasilva 6 (Baptiste 68, 6), Norgaard 7, Jensen 6 (Janelt 44, 6), Henry 7; Mbeumo 5, Wissa 5. Subs not used:Fernandez, Ghoddos, Onyeka, Bech Sorensen, Roerslev, Stevens, Young-Coombes.

MAN OF THE MATCH:Emile Smith Rowe. lovely goal and a fine performance on the left, very lively and surprisingly replaced.

REFEREE: Jonathan Moss 6.

MATCH FACTS | |Arsenal netted their 600th (and 601st) Premier League goals at the Emirates, hitting that milestone in their 297th such game, with only Manchester United at Old Trafford (283) and Manchester City at the Etihad (290) doing so at a single stadium in fewer games in the competition. | |Brentford are winless in their last seven league games, last having a longer run between September and October 2018 (8 games). The Bees have also lost their last five away league games, their longest such run since February 2011 (5). | |Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 29 Premier League home games kicking off at 3pm on a Saturday (W24 D5), last losing such a game on the opening day of the 2013-14 season against Aston Villa.

|Emile Smith Rowe netted his ninth Premier League goal this season; the only player to score more in a single campaign in the competition for Arsenal when aged 21 or younger was Nicolas Anelka in 1998-99 (17). | |Raheem Sterling (10) is the only English player with more Premier League goals this season than Arsenal's Emile Smith Rowe (9). | |Since his maiden season for Arsenal in 2017-18, Alexandre Lacazette has registered 23 Premier Leaguea assists - seven more than any other player for the Gunners in that time. | |Arsenal's Bukayo Saka registered his 11th goal involvement in the Premier League this season (7 goals, 4 assists), the most of any U21 player and a haul bettered only by Jarrod Bowen (16), Mason Mount (13) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (12) among English players.

NEXT FIVE MATCHES...

ARSENAL Thu Wolves (h).............. PL Mar 6 Watford (a) ............ PL Mar 13 Leicester (h).......... PL Mar 19 Aston VIlla (a)........ PL Apr 2 Crystal Palace (a).. PL BRENTFORD Sat Newcastle (h)........ PL Mar 5 Norwich (a)............ PL Mar 12 Burnley (h) ............ PL Mar 19 Leicester (a).......... PL Apr 2 Chelsea (a) ............ PL

'"It was an unbearable time. It hurt and we learnt a lot as a team. But we were united and that was a gamechanger

CAPTION(S):

ALL IN VAIN Brentford goalkeeper David Raya Martin dives in vain but fails to stop Arsenal's Emile Smith Rowe from scoring

GUNNA DO IT Arsenal's Emile Smith Rowe (left) celebrates scoring their first goal with Kieran Tierney
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:IAN BAKER at the Emirates Stadium
Publication:The People (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 20, 2022
Words:1040
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