Brentford 0-1 Arsenal: Player ratings as late Havertz winner sends Gunners top

  • Arsenal go top of Premier League with gritty win at Brentford
  • Kai Havertz scores winner in dying embers to earn three points
  • Bees squandered own chances in tight affair at the Gtech Community Stadium
Havertz was the hero
Havertz was the hero / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

FROM GTECH COMMUNITY STADIUM - Kai Havertz came off the bench to score a last-gasp winner for Arsenal at Brentford and send the Gunners to the top of the Premier League table.

Manchester City's draw with Liverpool earlier on Saturday opened the door for Mikel Arteta's side to move into first place with a win, and the Gunners left it late but duly obliged to move top for the first time this season.

Brentford dug in deep and had their own great chances to score but they were unable to find a way through.

How the game unfolded

Brentford somehow didn't take the lead on 13 minutes. Aaron Ramsdale slipped with the ball at his feet in the six-yard box and lost possession to Yoane Wissa, who pulled it back for Bryan Mbeumo to hit. His effort was cleared off the line by Declan Rice, and Wissa couldn't react quick enough to direct the rebound towards goal.

Arsenal's first real sight of goal came when Oleksandr Zinchenko was afforded space to set himself and cross from the left half-space, floating the ball over the head of Kristoffer Ajer to Leandro Trossard, but the Belgian couldn't keep his header down.

Mark Flekken was called into action for the first time when Arsenal won the ball high up the pitch, with Gabriel Martinelli cutting the ball back for Gabriel Jesus to strike. His effort was deflected off the knee of Ethan Pinnock and Flekken was alert to punch it away.

But Flekken couldn't prevent Arsenal from finding the net moments later. Bukayo Saka's cross was headed on by Jesus and palmed up by Flekken, only for Trossard to bundle it in from close range - but a VAR check ruled he was marginally offside and the goal was chalked off.

After the break, Brentford squandered another decent chance to go ahead. Wissa's flick on went beyond Zinchenko and into the path of Mbeumo, but he was marshalled well by Gabriel and his shot towards the near post trickled wide.

Arsenal again clung on when a header from Neal Maupay was swept off the line by Zinchenko, and the Frenchman was unable to steer the following cross from Vitaly Janelt at goal.

A rare mistake from Ethan Pinnock set Arsenal away in a three-on-three situation, but Eddie Nketiah kept his head down and saw a low shot held by Flekken when he had better-placed teammates in support.

With time running out, Arsenal finally broke the deadlock. A deep cross from Bukayo Saka found Havertz lurking at the back post, and he headed in his first goal for the Gunners to earn them all three points.

Brentford player ratings (3-5-2)

Out of context Flekken / ADRIAN DENNIS/GettyImages

GK: Mark Flekken - 4/10 - The Netherlands international's form improved before the international break but this was a shaky performance reminiscent of those from the beginning of the season.

CB: Kristoffer Ajer - 6/10 - The best-performing Norwegian on the pitch, but his efforts mattered little come full-time.

CB: Ben Mee - 7/10 - Threw himself into challenges with vigorous discipline. Looked back to his fit best.

CB: Ethan Pinnock - 7/10 - Cleared everything Arsenal threw at him but it wasn't to be his or Brentford's day.

RM: Saman Ghoddos - 5/10 - Thrown into the fires due to an absence of natural wing-backs. Did well until Havertz gave him the slip for the winner.

CM: Frank Onyeka - 5/10 - Worked incredibly hard but his limitations on the ball were glaring and impossible to ignore.

CM: Christian Norgaard - 7/10 - Patrolled the midfield well, particularly when up against a physical monster like Rice.

CM: Yehor Yarmoliuk - 5/10 - Didn't look out of place on his Premier League debut but didn't stand out either.

LM: Vitaly Janelt - 5/10 - Used his physicality to try and intimidate Saka. Had the match been a few minutes shorter, he would have considered his task a success.

CF: Bryan Mbeumo - 5/10 - Busy in wide areas but had seldom luck inside the penalty area. Game would have been much different if he scored his early chance.

CF: Yoane Wissa - 5/10 - Didn't provide the endeavour needed for Brentford's plan to truly succeed.


SUB: Neal Maupay (72' for Wissa) - 5/10

SUB: Shandon Baptiste (72' for Yarmoliuk) - 5/10

SUB: Keane Lewis-Potter (90' for Onyeka) - N/A

SUB: Zanka (90' for Ghoddos) - N/A

Subs not used: Thomas Strakosha (GK), Charlie Goode, Myles Peart-Harris, Ethan Brierley, Michael Olakigbe


Thomas Frank - 6/10 - Dealt a hefty blow by the late withdrawals of Mads Roerslev and Mathias Jensen but his team battled on well for about 89 minutes. So close yet so far.

Arsenal player ratings (4-3-3)

Saman Ghoddos, Gabriel
Gabriel was supreme / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

GK: Aaron Ramsdale - 4/10 - Did not make good of his chance to stake his claim for his starting spot back. Got away with some awful kicking and poor throwing.

RB: Takehiro Tomiyasu - 7/10 - Locked down Brentford's left side without much hassle for the majority of the game.

CB: William Saliba - 7/10 - Had his pocket picked in wide areas on occasion but was solid for the most part.

CB: Gabriel Magalhaes - 9/10 - Did exceptionally well to nullify Mbeumo in the areas it mattered most. Unmoved throughout the evening.

LB: Oleksandr Zinchenko - 7/10 - Useful as another player in the middle and final thirds but Brentford continually sought to take advantage of the space he vacated. Came up with a crucial clearance late on.

CM: Martin Odegaard - 5/10 - Didn't have a lot of enjoy trying to dictate play or open Brentford up, continually limited to switches of play or simply wriggling away from the press.

CM: Declan Rice - 7/10 - A physical marvel and the driving force at both ends for Arsenal.

CM: Leandro Trossard - 6/10 - Provided another goal threat from deep but was a little more careless in possession than Arteta would have liked.

RW: Bukayo Saka - 7/10 - Managed to free himself from Brentford's muzzling shackles to come up with the winning assist.

CF: Gabriel Jesus - 5/10 - Missed the chance that led to Trossard's offside goal at the end of a week in which he admitted scoring was not one of his best attributes. Home fans claimed he's 'just a s*** Neal Maupay'.

LW: Gabriel Martinelli - 6/10 - A mixed evening for the winger, who was continually met by swarms of defenders but proved troublesome when given a smidgen of space to operate.


SUB: Eddie Nketiah (65' for Jesus) - 6/10

SUB: Kai Havertz (79' for Martinelli) - 8/10 - Silenced some of his critics with a vitally important goal at the death.

SUB: Jorginho (90' for Odegaard) - N/A

SUB: Ben White (90' for Saka) - N/A

Subs not used: Karl Hein (GK), Jakub Kiwior, Cedric Soares, Mohamed Elneny, Reiss Nelson


Mikel Arteta - 7/10 - Arsenal again banked on defensive solidity and fine margins to win. It's a plan that only really came under threat due to Ramsdale's uncertainty.

Player of the match - Gabriel Magalhaes (Arsenal)