Arsenal-Brentford Preview

National Sports

Brentford boss Thomas Frank has promised that his side will “attack” the Premier League as they prepare for life in the top flight.

Arsenal are first up for the Bees on Friday, in the season’s opener.

Brentford scored a league-leading 79 goals in the Championship last term, as they atoned for the 2020 play-off final defeat to Fulham by beating Swansea City at Wembley to finally seal promotion.

“I don’t know if they are our benchmark, but we are going to attack the league,” Frank said when asked if his team would try to replicate the success Leeds United had in 2020-21.

“We are a bumble bee – they are not designed to fly, but we were still able to fly into the Premier League and we will constantly do everything we can to keep flying as high as possible.

“It is the first game in the top flight for 75 years, I think we will experience something in comparison to Wembley and England vs. Denmark and Italy (in terms of atmosphere).”

Arsenal heard into the new season without European Football – the first time the Gunners will not feature in continental competition since 1996.

Mikel Arteta has nevertheless received backing in the transfer market, with Ben White, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Tavares coming in, while the Gunners have reportedly bid £24million for Sheffield United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

“In this first period of the transfer window, I think we’ve done a few things that we wanted to do and that are going to help us get the squad in a much better place,” Arteta said.

“There is still time to go, so I’m sure things will happen in a way. I’m willing to work with the players I have at the moment and get the best out of them. We will see what we can do.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Brentford – Ivan Toney

Ivan Toney was directly involved in 43 Championship goals during the 2020-21 season (33 goals, 10 assists). Toney made two Premier League appearances in 2015-16 for Newcastle United, both five-minute substitute appearances against Chelsea and Manchester United.

Arsenal – Ben White

Tasked with stopping Toney will be England defender White, who joined Arsenal from Brighton and Hove Albion in a reported £50m deal this off-season. He appears to be who Arteta is pinning his hopes on to lead the defence alongside Gabriel this term.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Brentford will be the 50th different team to play in the Premier League, and the 10th from London. Just 11 of the previous 49 participants have won their first ever game in the competition (D15 L23), while no side from the capital has won their first ever Premier League game (D5 L4).

– This will be the first league meeting between Brentford and Arsenal since May 1947, a match the Gunners won 1-0 at Griffin Park.

– Arsenal have won just one of their six visits to Brentford in all competitions (D1 L4), though this will be the first such meeting since May 1947.

– When kicking off their Premier League season away from home, Arsenal are unbeaten in seven games (W5 D2) since losing 0-1 at Sunderland in the 2000-01 campaign. The Gunners began last season with a 3-0 victory away against promoted side Fulham.

– This is the fourth time Arsenal have been involved in the opening game of a Premier League campaign, winning the other three against West Brom (2008-09), Leicester City (2017-18) and Fulham (2020-21). It will be only the third ever game in Premier League history to be played on Friday the 13th – the other two games were in April 2001, with Bradford City winning 2-0 against Charlton Athletic and Leeds beating Liverpool 2-1.

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