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

Brentford regain some spark but early goal is enough to see Arsenal home


League Cup Third Round

Brentford (0) 0

Arsenal (1) 1 Nelson 8


Arsenal edged out the Bees in a cup tie that proved easy on the eye - even if it lacked the extra notch of drama to elevate it beyond anything much more than pleasant entertainment.


Here was the League Cup as therapy.


For both Brentford and Arsenal, this was a tie which seemed more about form-hunting than trophy-hunting. The Gunners have not won this particular trophy for 30 years - and only twice ever - so it is not as if it ever seems the biggest priority.


After their dismal showing against Everton at the weekend, the Bees put out a really strong side with the message from Thomas Frank effectively: Go out and rediscover your mojo.


The Gunners made eight changes from Sunday's North London derby and Mikel Arteta saw this tie as a chance to get important minutes clocked up by irregulars - which these days must also include Aaron Ramsdale between the sticks.


David Raya appears to have usurped his position but the Spaniard was ineligible against his parent club so it was an opportunity for the visiting fans to laud one of their favourite players.


The winner came early. Zanka's poor backpass was seized upon by Eddie Nketiah, who ought to have finished the job but chose to roll the ball back for Reiss Nelson to put away - Nathan Collins missing a good chance to cut out the final ball.


The Bees soon settled into a defensive holding pattern as Arsenal assumed control, relying on quick breaks. One of those raids almost saw Vitaly Janelt power home an equaliser - a block from Takehiro Tomiyasu thwarting the German, while Christian Norgaard's low cross from the right was almost put away by Yoane Wissa.


Emile Smith Rowe is only an occasional presence these days and he was keen to make in impact. One slaloming run almost brought a goal - his final left-foot shot being blocked by an outstretched leg from Bees keeper Mark Flekken.


The Bees upped the ante after the break and rediscovered some of that zest which went missing against the Toffees. Suddenly they were winning tackles and turning over possession. Wissa fired against the inside of Ramsdale's left-hand post.


Nelson missed a chance to put the game to bed when he fired just off target from a Kai Havertz cross, but the Bees stayed in it and it needed a good stretch to his left by Ramsdale to deny Frank Onyeka and sub Keane Lewis-Potter would have netted but for a desperate goalline clearance from Jakub Kiwior.


Arteta brought on Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Jesus to help get the Gunners over the line, but the Bees fans will have been heartened by their team's second half revival, even if it fell short of forcing the tie to penalties.


Bees: (3-5-2) Flekken - Collins, Pinnock, Zanka (Ajer 81) - Roerslev (Ghoddos 63), Onyeka (Lewis-Potter 79), Norgaard (Jensen 63), Janelt, Hickey (Olakiigbe 79) - Wissa, Mbeumo


Gunners: (4-3-3) Ramsdale - Tomiyasu, Gabriel, White (Zinchenko 69), Kiwior - Havertz, Jorginho, Smith Rowe (Odegaard 82) - Nelson (Elneny 82), Nketiah (Soares 87), Sagoe (Jesus 69)


Attendance: 16,688

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