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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at the Gtech Community Stadium

Arsenal scramble to the summit as Havertz plunders the points

Brentford (0) 0

Arsenal (0) 1 Havertz 90

Arsenal did just enough to squirm their way to the top of the Premier League as super sub Kai Havertz came on to nod home a late, late winner.

In a rather undistinguished game of few chances, the Bees'excellent organisation appeared to have won them a share of the spoils, but the German was in the right place to ghost in at the far post to guide a floated Bukayo Saka cross to the far post into the net past Mark Flekken.

This is a fixture that will always resonate with Bees fans. One which will always evoke the fondest of memories of that Friday night two years ago when their team beat the Gunners 2-0 in their first game back in the top flight for 74 years.

But they won't have much affection for their pair of games against the Gunners at the Gtech this season, having lost both this one and a Carabao Cup tie 1-0.

If the pre-match story surrounded the return to league action for Aaron Ramsdale because of David Raya's ineligibility against his parent club, it was soon also a talking point in the game itself.

The Arsenal stopper - given a rousing welcoming by visiting fans - got himself in a terrible mess when he dithered horribly after taking possession of a goal-kick from Gabriel.

It showed how nervous he was, despite having kept a clean sheet in that cup tie at the Gtech a couple of months ago, and also one of the reasons why he is not first choice for Mikel Arteta. Distribution is a problem.

Yoane Wissa pounced to win the ball and roll it back for Bryan Mbeumo, with the goal seemingly at his mercy. Only a block from the Declan Rice on the line denied Brentford's Cameroon striker a goal as he curled the ball towards the far-post.

Later in the piece, Ramsdale made a hash of a throw out and ended up banging the ball into the turf just in front of him. He was lucky a goal did not result.

Of course, Bees fans loved it and the wind-up chants were soon in full swing. "England, England's number four" they taunted.

But the Gunners grew into the contest and started to cause a few problems, albeit at a rather low tempo that suited the Bees and their well-marshaled defence.

Ethan Pinnock blocked well to deny Gabriel Jesus twice and it needed a VAR intervention to deny Leandro Trossard a goal before the break when he followed up after Jesus had headed a Saka cross goalwards and Flekken had palmed his save into a space the Belgian could attack to nod home.

A very marginal offside was the decision and with it went the chance of the game really opening up. The Bees' game plan had not been disturbed and they stuck to it until the end. Showing resilience, as always, in the face of a mounting injury list.

In the second half, Neal Maupay came on and almost scored for the Bees with a far-post header which Oleksandr Zinchenko hooked off the line and Rice drilled just past the post from the edge of the area, but it was a game of few big chances and look destined to end goalless.

Saka and Havertz had other ideas.

Bees: (5-3-2) Flekken - Ghoddos (Zanka 90), Ajer, Mee, Pinnock, Janelt - Onyeka (Lewis-Potter 90+1), Norgaard, Yarmoliuk (Baptiste 72) - Mbeumo, Wissa (Maupay 72)

Gunners: (4-3-3) Ramsdale - Tomiyasu, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko - Odegaard (Jorginho 90+2), Rice, Trossard - Saka (White 90+2), Gabriel Jesus (Nketiah 66), Martinelli (Havertz 79)

Attendance: 17,201


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