Premier League

Arsenal 2-1 Brentford: Player ratings as Bees downed by Saka and Smith Rowe combo

Craig Vickers
Emile Smith Rowe celebrates with Kieran Tierney
Emile Smith Rowe celebrates with Kieran Tierney / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Arsenal strengthened their hopes of a top four Premier League finish with a 2-1 victory over Brentford at the Emirates Stadium, taking revenge for a shock defeat to the Bees in August.

The Gunners came out of the traps firing, with Ben White flicking a header goalbound that needed Christian Norgaard to intervene at the back post.

Kristoffer Ajer then stopped Bukayo Saka's cut-back, before Arsenal had the ball in the net in the 12th minute. Granit Xhaka's pass was steered home by Alexandre Lacazette, but VAR ruled that the Swiss had strayed marginally offside in the build-up.

Mikel Arteta's side continued to push, posting a remarkable 82% possession figure after 20 minutes, but there was no way through David Raya in the Brentford goal. Odegaard let fly from range soon after, but Pontus Jansson stuck his leg out to deflect the ball behind for a corner.

It was last ditch stuff from Thomas Frank's side, with Raya called into action from Ben White's rasping effort from the edge of the area after Ethan Pinnock nodded Kieran Tierney's dangerous delivery away from danger.

The Gunners faithful inside the Emirates Stadium were then screaming for a penalty just 90 seconds later. The ball appeared to strike Yoane Wissa's arm as the forward slid to block Cedric Soares' strike, but VAR ruled that there was no infringment from the Bees man.

Arteta's side never allowed their frustrations to linger, however, as they broke the deadlock just two minutes into the second half.

Lacazette shifted the ball out wide to Smith Rowe in space. Squaring up Ajer, the midfielder jinked infield before curling a sumptuous effort into the far corner beyond the reach of David Raya.

Tierney then went close to doubling the advantage on the hour-mark when he collected the ball in space on the edge of the area, but his strike was thwarted by the backtracking Bryan Mbeumo.

Brentford were beginning to grow into the game as Mbeumo went close at the other end, but Arsenal put the game beyond doubt with 12 minutes remaining.

Pontus Jansson went down under minimal contact from Lacazette on the halfway line as Thomas Partey collected the loose ball and strode forward. The Ghanaian delayed his pass before feeding Saka who fired a thunderous effort in off the far post.

Brentford salvaged a lifeline deep into stoppage time when Norgaard turned home after a ricochet from a free-kick launched into the penalty box, but it was too little, too late for the away side.

Arsenal player ratings

1. Goalkeeper & defenders

Cedric Soares, Mikel Arteta
Cedric receives instructions from Arteta / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Aaron Ramsdale (GK) - 5/10 - Had very little to do, although his distribution was uncharacteristically poor.

Cedric Soares (RB) - 6/10 - Strong showing deputising for Takehiro Tomiyasu, taking up some good positions both centrally and on the touchline.

Ben White (CB) - 6/10 - Enjoyed a very comfortable afternoon, protecting the space in behind Arsenal's defensive line with authority.

Gabriel (CB) - 8/10 - Defended on the front foot, constantly nipping ahead of Bryan Mbeumo to sustain attacks for Arsenal.

Kieran Tierney (LB) - 6/10 - Highly involved with his sprints down the left hand side, although his final delivery was usually marshalled by a Brentford central defender.

2. Midfielders

Granit Xhaka, Josh Dasilva
Xhaka on the ball / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Thomas Partey (CM) - 7/10 - A few hairy moments in the first half, but the confidence he installs with the ball in midfield is crucial. Great ball to release Saka for Arsenal's second of the afternoon.

Granit Xhaka (CM) - 3/10 - He seemed a slightly awkward fit operating in a slightly more advanced position closer to the left touchline.

Martin Odegaard (AM) - 7/10 - At heart of everything good for Arsenal, using an array of body feints to work himself some space to work his magic.

3. Forwards

Emile Smith Rowe
Smith Rowe celebrates / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Bukayo Saka (RW) - 7/10 - Gave Rico Henry a tough afternoon, constantly looking to square the Brentford full back up. Assured finish to put Arsenal two to the good.

Alexandre Lacazette (ST) - 2/10 - You won't find an Arsenal fan who could criticise his endeavour, but his quality in the final third was absent.

Emile Smith Rowe (LW) - 9/10 - A wonderful piece of individual skill to work the space for his goal, before finishing with conviction.

4. Substitutes

Nicolas Pepe (LW) - N/A

Eddie Nketiah (ST) - N/A

Brentford player ratings

5. Goalkeeper & defenders

Emile Smith Rowe
Ajer attempts to block Smith Rowe's strike / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

David Raya (GK) - 4/10 - Perhaps left too much room at his far post for Smith Rowe to curl his strike into.

Kristoffer Ajer (CB) - 4/10 - Beaten too easily by Smith Rowe for Arsenal's opener, although he was left to guard far too much space.

Pontus Jansson (CB) - 3/10 - Made a couple of vital blocks in the opening period, standing up to a deluge of Arsenal corners throughout the afternoon. Undone most of his good work by going down under no contact in the lead up to Arsenal's second goal.

Ethan Pinnock (CB) - 6/10 - Really commanding in the air defending crosses and wasn't afraid to put his body on the line.

6. Midfielders & wing-backs

Rico Henry, Cedric Soares
Henry goes over from a Cedric challenge / Mark Thompson/GettyImages

Sergi Canos (RWB) - 5/10 - Often found himself haring towards his own goal trying to stifle the Smith Rowe and Tierney axis.

Mathias Jensen (CM) - 3/10 - Very careless in possession before he limped off injured just before the interval.

Christian Norgaard (CM) - 6/10 - Stood strong defending his own penalty area in the air, especially during the first half where Brentford were under the cosh.

Josh Dasilva (CM) - 5/10 - First start for Brentford in just under a year and he equipped himself well.

Rico Henry (LWB) - 5/10 - A tough assignment attempting to stifle Bukayo Saka, but he limited the England international's impact in the final third.

7. Forwards

Bryan Mbeumo (ST) - 7/10 - Isolated as Brentford were pinned back inside their own half, although he held the ball in well when he could.

Yoane Wissa (ST) - 4/10 - Spent more time back inside his own half defending than impacting the game at the opposite end.

8. Substitutes

Vitaly Janelt (CM) - 5/10 - Replaced the injured Jensen before half time.

Shandon Baptiste (CM) - N/A

Saman Ghoddos (RWB) - N/A