Brentford v Arsenal: Match in pictures
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Mikel Arteta has pointed to the absence of his senior players after the Gunners were on the receiving end of a sobering defeat in their Premier League opener at Brentford. The Spaniard was forced to name a youthful side in west London, handing academy prospect Folarin Balogun a rare start in attack with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette both missing through illness.
There were also starts for Emile Smith Rowe and a Premier League debut for Albert Sambi Lonkonga in midfield and the 21-year-old Belgian even fronted up media duties after the game, once again pointing to the lack of leadership within this Arsenal side.
Arsenal were bullied at times by Ivan Toney and the Bees, who were literally buzzing on their top-flight return following last season’s Championship play-off success.
Thomas Frank’s side laid down the law early doors that they will not change their approach and strategy for anyone as Arsenal fell victims to the thunderous atmosphere inside the Brentford Community Stadium.
Former Liverpool wideman Sergi Canos struck a brilliant opener to open Brentford’s Premier League account before Christian Norgaard punished from a long throw-in to head in a second.
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It was the lack of leadership for that goal in particular that hammered home the lack of authority in this Arsenal side for Arteta.
“I’m disappointed. We started the season against a good opponent,” he told BBC Sport.
“I don’t think we deserved anything different. They scored from a long throw-in and we didn’t have enough presence in the box.
“The first goal gave them some hope. We wanted to play better in the second half but we need many more shots on target, then we conceded on a set-piece.
“A lot of young boys were doing everything they can. For some of them it was the first experience in the league – that says a lot.”
Arteta was pointing towards the absence of a number of his senior players including his two star strikers and he was unable to confirm whether the duo will be fit to face Chelsea next week.
“I can’t change that. We knew that before the game. I don’t know [if they’ll be available for the next game],” he added.
“What I can control and help, I’ll put all my enthusiasm and work into that.”
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