Brentford came from behind twice to beat Arsenal 3-2 in a well-contested friendly match at The Emirates Stadium this afternoon. Joe Willock opened the scoring for Arsenal and Alexandre Lacazette added a second for the Premier League side moments after a Tariqe Fosu goal had levelled it up for The Bees. But Brentford battled back. Halil Dervişoğlu equalised and Shandon Baptiste scored the winner in the dying moments.
With Brentford having not played opposition since the start of March, the game was used as preparation for the resumption of the Sky Bet Championship season after the Covid-19 pandemic. The Bees face Fulham ten days from now while Arsenal have a trip to Manchester City in the Premier League three days earlier. The Bees made plenty of changes and only Mads Bech Sørensen, at the heart of the Brentford defence, played the whole game.
Arsenal had slightly the better of a first half that was closely fought. Saïd Benrahma had a couple of efforts saved for The Bees but the better chances were at the other end. Bukayo Saka should have scored but headed wide from close range and Nicolas Pépé fired in to the side netting in the first period.
The Bees were generally compact out of possession with Christian Nørgaard plugging any midfield gaps and Pontus Jansson solid in the centre of defence. But when Héctor Bellerin found space to burst from the back, Arsenal got the first goal. He ran through the centre of midfield, progressing more than 40 yards before a square pass to Willock. The shot came in from 20 yards and curled past Raya and in to the net.
The second half started with Brentford making ten changes and the game was more open. Jan Žambůrek and Baptiste saw shots blocked before the equaliser came with 17 minutes remaining. Baptiste created space on the edge of the penalty area and fed Fosu on the left. He beat Sokratis Papastathopoulos and drilled a shot high past Emiliano Martinez and in to the net.
That parity lasted only four minutes, however. Reiss Nelson got away on the right and worked his way to the by-line. His cut back found Lacazette and the striker turned well before finishing past Luke Daniels. That goal came just after Dervişoğlu had been put away by Baptiste but was unable to round Martinez and looked like it may have been the winner.
Shkodran Mustafi had headed wide when well-placed for Arsenal earlier in the half while chances had come and gone for Lacazette and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Baptiste had also seen a shot saved as Brentford pressed. And The Bees levelled for a second time with eight minutes to go. Lacazette had the ball taken off him by Ethan Pinnock and with Arsenal appealing that a foul had been committed, Dervişoğlu turned and fired low with his left foot in to the bottom corner.
Arsenal went looking for a winner. Martinelli forced Daniels in to a low save and Lacazette headed wide. And, instead, the winner came at the other end. The ball dropped loose 20 yards out after a challenge from Žambůrek, Fosu found Baptiste and he fired in a shot that beat Martinez, clipped the post and ended up in the net. That was enough to settle the game in Brentford’s favour.
Brentford First Half: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Sørensen, Thompson; Marcondes, Nørgaard, Jensen; Valencia, Watkins, Benrahma
Brentford Second Half: Daniels; Roerslev, Sørensen, Pinnock, Henry; Yearwood, Mokotjo, Baptiste; Žambůrek, Dervişoğlu, Fosu