It's a repeat of our memorable opening night in the Premier League as we take on Arsenal at The Emirates tomorrow. Back in August, goals from Sergi Canós and Christian Nørgaard made it a winning start to life in the top flight and now we go looking for a first double over The Gunners since 1938. Get all the build-up to tomorrow's derby below.
Arsenal's record after three Premier League games this season, including their opening night trip to the Brentford Community Stadium, read: Played Three, Lost Three, Scored Zero, Conceded Nine. So it's testament to the work that Mikel Arteta and his coaching staff have done since that they now head into the final three months of the season with a realistic shot of finishing in the top four for the first time since 2016.
The Gunners are currently sixth, four points off the Champions League spots but with three games in hand on those directly above them. They've had a little wobble of late in League and Cup, going five without a win before last Thursday's hard-fought 1-0 victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers. Their fluency hasn't been helped by a heavily disrupted fixture schedule which has seen them play just three league matches since Boxing Day.
January was a month of streamlining at The Emirates with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang [Barcelona], Sead Kolašinac [Marseille], and Calum Chambers [Aston Villa] all leaving on free transfers while Pablo Mari [Udinese], Ainsley Maitland-Niles [Roma], and Folarin Balogun [Middlesbrough] were among 12 players to depart on loan.
Arteta's faith in Arsenal's youngsters has been evident. The Gunners have the youngest squad in the Premier League with an average age of 24.5. The 18 youngest starting XIs put on the pitch this season in the top flight all belong to Arsenal: their starting XI that drew 0-0 at home to Burnley last month included nine players aged 24 or younger with seven of their bench aged 22 or younger.
Emile Smith-Rowe (above) is their leading scorer with eight league goals ahead of Bukayo Saka (six), Martin Ødegaard, and Gabriel Martinelli (both four).
Writing for Hot Off The Press, football.london's Kaya Kaynak, expects: "I think it will be a 4-2-3-1 again, which it has been for most of the season, except for when they go down to 10, which is relatively frequently these days! The big question is whether right-back Tomiyasu (above) will be fit enough to play and, if he is not, Cedric will play there, which could potentially be to Brentford’s advantage, though he had quite a good game against Wolves. It will then be the usual defenders: White, Gabriel, Kieran Tierney, a midfield of Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey and then Saka on the right, Emile Smith Rowe on the left and Alexandre Lacazette up top"
Tomorrow's game will come too early for Christian Eriksen to make his Brentford debut while Ivan Toney (calf) will be a gameday decision. Thomas Frank believes Josh Dasilva's first start back is not far away with Julian Jeanvier (knee) our only long-term absentee.
The big news for Arsenal sees Takehiro Tomiyasu in contention to play following a calf issue. Bernd Leno is also available after recovering from Covid-19 but Gabriel Martinelli is out suspended.
- Brentford are looking to become the first promoted side to complete a Premier League double over Arsenal since Blackburn Rovers in 1992/93
- Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 32 Premier League home matches against promoted sides (W27 D5), since a 1-0 defeat against Newcastle United in November 2010. The Gunners have only failed to score in one of those 32 contests, a goalless draw with Middlesbrough in October 2016
- Sergi Canos and Christian Norgaard scored Brentford’s goals in their 2-0 win over Arsenal in the reverse fixture. In the last 10 seasons, only one player at a promoted club has scored home and away against the Gunners, with Charlie Austin doing so for QPR in 2014/15
- Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette has scored 12 London derby goals at Emirates Stadium. He’s the highest-scoring player in such fixtures at the ground in the competition
A stylish central-midfielder, Mikel Arteta's 17-year professional career saw him pick up plaudits and trophies wherever he went. He was an Intertoto Cup winner with Paris St Germain in 2001 before doing the League and Cup double with Rangers in 2003. His six-and-a-half years at Everton saw him twice named Player of the Year and also named Players' Player of the Year in 2006. Ending his career with Arsenal, the Spanish Youth International added another pair of FA Cups and two Community Shields to a very impressive career haul.
After 539 professional appearances, he retired and was appointed to Pep Guardiola's backroom staff at Manchester City in 2016, helping City to two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two Carabao Cup trophies.
He left to become Arsenal manager in December 2019, winning his first match as boss on 1 January 2020, a 2-0 victory over Manchester United. Later that season, he led his side to the FA Cup, becoming the first person to win the trophy as both captain and manager of Arsenal. He also became the first boss to win a major trophy in his first season in charge of the club since George Graham in 1987.
THE OPPOSITION VIEW
Mikel Arteta told Arsenal.com: "We knew the difficulties that we were going to have on the opening game in the league, which is always difficult but with the amount of players out that we had, with the team that we played on the day and with a newly-promoted team who had done exceptionally well, I wasn’t shocked because I knew it was going to be very difficult.
That has been proven because they have made life really, really difficult for any team that has been playing there regardless of the level of that team. We haven’t been the only ones that has suffered against them, that’s for sure"
LAST TIME OUT
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Assistant Referees: Marc Perry and Timothy Wood
Fourth Official: Simon Hooper
Video Assistant Referee: Lee Mason
Additional Video Assistant Referee: Daniel Robathan
203 fouls - Second-fewest in Premier League
33 yellow cards - 16th in Premier League
3 red cards - Most in Premier League
The away Supporters' area is located in the South East corner of the stadium, closest to Highbury and Islington Station.
Only bags that are smaller than A4 in size (small rucksack / handbag) will be permitted into the stadium. Luggage storage facilities are available at London King's Cross station.
Away supporters are welcome to bring flags and banners to the ground, as long as they meet the club’s safety requirements. They must not exceed 1m in height or width, and be displayed on a pole no thicker than a pencil. Please note that the club reserves the right to turn banners away on the grounds of offensive content.
HOW TO FOLLOW
Tomorrow's game will be shown around the world through the Premier League's broadcast partners. Click here to see if it is on where you are
There will also be live commentary on Talksport in the UK. For the Brentford angle, Brentford Women's Head Coach Karleigh Osborne joins Mark Burridge on Bees Player.