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  • By Alessandro Schiavone

Brentford lose AGAIN despite help from Ramsdale but Toney and Gabriel may have to build bridges next term


By Alessandro Schiavone at Emirates Stadium


Arsenal 2-1 Brentford

Goals: Rice (A), Wissa (B), Havertz (A)


Kai Havertz fired Arsenal to their eighth Prem win in as many games in 2024 when he confidently nodded home Ben White's second assist of the night in the 86th minute to go top of the table.


Yoane Wissa had pounced on a failed Aaron Ramsdale clearance to momentarily establish Brentford's parity deep into first-half injury time after Rice's headed opener.


This was a game with implications at both ends of the table for different reasons. But despite shooting themselves in the foot with a host of poor finishes and Ramsdale's gaffe, the Gunners ensured they go to bed top of the table ahead of tomorrow's Anfield title contest between Liverpool and Man City.


Having decided the Champions League final for Chelsea in 2021, Havertz has shown once again that he's a big-game player.


And should Arsenal go on to mark their 20th anniversary since the Invincibles by winning the crown then tonight's winner will by and large be the second most important strike of his career.


Ivan Toney, perhaps on his last Emirates outing as an opposition player, came close to giving the Bees the lead at 1-1 with an audacious attempt to catch Ramsdale off his line. But the Englishman went from zero to hero by clawing it away. And he repeated the feat when he tipped Nathan Collins' header over the crossbar.


Yet with Raya ineligible to face his parent club Brentford, it's hard to make a case for Ramsdale. This was a golden opportunity for him to clutch at straws in a bid to force his way back into Mikel Arteta's thinking. And even though he made up for his first-half howler, with time the goods he produced will fade and the agonizing memory of his intercepted clearance will remain in the collective consciousness.


And bridges will also have to be built between Ivan Toney and Gabriel Magalhaes should the former swap west for north London in summer after the pair clashed and exchanged insults late on while the game was on a knife edge.


But that's a problem for the morning as Arsenal relish their night as table toppers. And ahead of their return leg against Porto here on Wednesday their confidence could not be any higher. They need at least two to overcome the 1-0 deficit but their recent record of 23 goals their last five league outings is a valid reason for optimism.


Brentford, meanwhile, are in dire need of points having only five more on board than third-from-bottom Luton with 10 games still to go.


Thomas Frank's head won't roll just yet amid a poor run of form but his men need to come into life in any shape of form to extend their Prem stay.


More of the same and they may go down.


Line-ups


Arsenal


Starting XI: Ramsdale; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwior; Jorginho, Rice, Odegaard; Saka, Havertz, Trossard


Subs: Hein, Cedric, Zinchenko, Partey, Vieira, Smith Rowe, Nelson, Nketiah, Jesus


Brentford

Starting XI: Flekken; Roerslev, Zanka, Ajer, Collins, Lewis-Potter, Onyeka, Janelt, Norgaard, Wissa, Toney


Subs: Strakosha, Jensen, Ghoddos, Damsgaard, Baptiste, Ji-Soo, Kristian Arthur, Maupay, Yarmoliuk








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