Brentford announced their arrival in the Premier League by kicking off the 2021/22 season with a 2-0 win over Arsenal. West London beat North London on the opening evening of the campaign with The Bees scoring a goal in each half. Brentford’s first top flight game since 1947 finished with a well-earned victory thanks to goals from Sergi Canós and Christian Nørgaard.
Canós struck midway through the first half, becoming the first Brentford player to score a top division goal since Len Townsend more than seven decades ago. Nørgaard headed home in the second half to seal a win that The Bees deserved. David Raya, in the home goal, made one spectacular save late on, but Bryan Mbeumo hit the post for The Bees and there was little doubt the better team won on the night.
The first shot of the Premier League season came from Arsenal, a long-range effort from Kieran Tierney that was comfortably gathered by Raya. It came within two minutes of the start with Arsenal spending that time on the front foot and in Brentford territory. They moved the ball with precision in the very early stages, but Raya was untroubled, and Brentford soon got in to their attacking stride.
With Nørgaard and Frank Onyeka busy in the centre of midfield, The Bees were forcing Arsenal to play wide. Tierney saw a lot of the ball on the left but was unable to create openings and Brentford were soon the team creating the chances. A deflected cross from Rico Henry was headed on to the roof of the net by Onyeka. Onyeka then won an aerial challenge and Ivan Toney released Mbeumo in the inside right channel, he smashed a shot past Bernd Leno but saw it crash off the outside of the near post.
The opening goal came at the midway point of the first half after Vitaly Janelt had won The Bees a corner on the left. Arsenal cleared the first ball before Brentford recycled from deep and a cross from the left looked set for Janelt but was again cleared. Brentford were not, however, to be denied. Ethan Pinnock nodded down to Canós on the left side of the penalty area, he cut inside and drilled a shot low past Leno’s right hand and in to the net. Brentford had pressed Arsenal in and had their reward, with the home crowd celebrating wildly.
Canós had another sight of goal after playing a one-two of sorts with Onyeka, this time he curled his effort over the bar. There was a better chance soon after. Kristoffer Ajer lofted a ball in to space in the inside right channel and Mbeumo raced on to it. He weaved his way between Ben White and Pablo Marí to leave himself one-on-one with Leno. Mbeumo steadied himself but pulled a right foot shot wide of the far post.
Arsenal almost punished the miss immediately when Tierney crossed from the left and found Folarin Balogun, but he shot wide on the turn under pressure from Henry. Nicolas Pépé curled a shot over from the right side of the penalty area, before Balogun did likewise from the other side. There was a chance for Arsenal in stoppage time when Gabriel Martinelli laid a pass off to Pépé, but his shot was blocked. The Bees had gone close just before when Onyeka fed a ball to Toney and his first time cross just eluding the arriving Janelt.
Brentford went in at half time with the lead and the initiative and perhaps knowing they could have been further ahead. And Arsenal looked to erase the deficit at the start of the second period. Raya was forced in to a save when Tierney fired in a shot from the left side and was busy again soon after. Emile Smith Rowe turned free in midfield and was allowed to run from deep, he attacked the penalty area and let fly with a shot that Raya pushed away to his left.
Arsenal started the second half brightly. Smith Rowe was seeing more of the ball, and they were attacking down both flanks, switching the play to test Brentford’s defence. Raya saved from Albert Sambi Lokonga before Tierney was released in to space and saw a shot deflect in to the side netting. The resulting corner was met by Martinelli, but he headed across the face of goal.
Calum Chambers had a shot blocked and then crossed for Granit Xhaka, but that effort fizzed over the crossbar. And Arsenal’s hold on the game was weakening. Canós forced Arsenal back with a run from deep and his shot was palmed away by Leno. Toney then flicked on to release Janelt and the next pass released Mbeumo. The low shot was pushed away by Leno, but the offside flag was raised after the save meaning any goal may not have stood.
The Bees were pushing for a second and got it with 17 minutes remaining. Mads Bech, on for Ajer, launched a long throw in to the penalty area from the left. Toney jumped at the near post but neither he nor any Arsenal defender could get a touch. Nørgaard rose highest to meet the bouncing ball and nodded home from close range to give Brentford a lead they never looked like losing.
Arsenal tried to respond. Pépé curled a free kick over the bar before Nuno Tavares and Xhaka fired efforts off target. But it was Brentford who nearly got the third when Nørgaard met a Mbeumo corner at the near post, flicking it across the face of goal.
Arsenal’s last real chance to mount a comeback came and went with three minutes remaining. Smith Rowe released Tierney on the left and he cut the ball back to the near post. Pépé let fly with a low first time shot that Raya brilliantly turned around the post. The resulting corner was played short and then delivered for Marí to head wide.
Sambi lashed well over as the minutes ticked down before Reiss Nelson had a shot blocked. Smith Rowe tried to wriggle free but fired off target. And that was that. Referee Michael Oliver, an unobtrusive and authoritative presence throughout, brought the game to a close and Brentford had the perfect start to the season.
Brentford: Raya; Ajer (sub Bech 71 mins), Jansson, Pinnock; Canós, Onyeka (sub Bidstrup 80 mins), Norgaard, Janelt, Henry; Toney, Mbeumo (sub Forss 86 mins)
Subs (not used): Gunnarsson, Goode, Roerslev, Ghoddos, Wissa, Dervişoğlu
Arsenal: Leno; Chambers (sub Tavares 81 mins), White, Marí, Tierney; Sambi, Xhaka; Pépé, Smith Rowe, Martinelli (sub Nelson 71 mins); Balogun (sub Saka 58 mins)
Subs (not used): Hein, Bellerín, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Soares, Elneny
Attendance: 16,479 (1,721 away fans)