The scoreline was by no means a reflection on a game which saw the Young Bees give every bit as good as they got against an Arsenal side that included five starters from last month’s Premier League opener, as well as Alexandre Lacazette, Mohamed Elneny, and summer signing Aaron Ramsdale.
It was an excellent workout for the young Bees who pressed and harried their opponents throughout the 90 minutes. In the end, however, two set-piece efforts, the second a moment of individual brilliance from Lacazette, and a pair of late Cédric goals decided the game.
It was Brentford, under Brian Riemer’s command, who could well have taken an early lead but Peart-Harris sent his header skimming over the bar from a fine Dom Thompson centre. Álvaro Fernández was called into action on the quarter-hour mark to deny Lacazette at close range before turning the rebound from Ainsley Maitland-Niles over the bar.
While Arsenal might have shaded the opening 30 minutes in terms of number of chances created, Brentford carved out perhaps the clearer openings. Only Gabriel’s interception stopped Yoane Wissa tapping home a Shandon Baptiste cross, the latter then curling over when Mads Roerslev returned the ball into the area.
The latter stages of the half saw Pepe strike the outside of the post after Thompson’s blocked clearance had dropped kindly for the Ivorian International and Fernández make a fine fingertip save to turn Lacazette’s looping header behind.
The second half was barely a minute old when Arsenal did take the lead; a loose ball dropped at the feet of Gabriel to slam home from 12 yards. Lacazette then made it two, on the hour, with an unstoppable free-kick from 25 yards.
When Arsenal’s third arrived 15 minutes from time, it came with plenty of controversy as centre-back Hockenhull was clearly pushed in the back by Cédric in the build-up. The referee said play on and the Portuguese full-back made no mistake, waiting for the bouncing ball to drop and lifting it home over Fernández.
The Bees continued to push to get back in the game with Peart-Harris volleying over on the stretch before Wissa brought a fine save out of Ramsdale with a well-struck effort from the edge of the box.
The final word went to the home side, however, as Pepe’s inch-perfect cross was nodded in by Cédric at the back post deep into stoppage time.
Brentford: Fernández; Roerslev, Hockenhull, Racic, Thompson; Baptiste (Gordon ’77), Maghoma, Peart-Harris; Wissa, Žambůrek (Haygarth ‘75), Fosu (Young-Coombes ’67)
Subs not used: Winterbottom, Russell, Brook
Arsenal: Ramsdale; Chambers, White (Hutchinson 76), Mari, Gabriel (Holding 69), Cedric; Maitland-Niles, Elneny (Patino 33); Martinelli, Lacazette, Pepe