Arsenal begin this Premier League campaign without European football for the first time since 1995. That same year, the Gunners acquired a certain Dennis Bergkamp who went on to make 423 appearances and score 120 goals during his time at the club. Mikel Arteta will be hoping that one of the many gems within his squad can go on and replicate the career that one of Arsenal’s greatest ever once did.
Premier League football is back and on a day as ironic as Friday 13th of September, Mikel Arteta and the Arsenal faithful will be hoping for no bad omens this 2021/22 campaign.
New faces up first.
Newly promoted Brentford provide the first opponents for Arsenal this season. Thomas Frank’s side come into the league after clutching the Championship playoffs in style, easing past Swansea 2-0 at Wembley. Since this game, the Bees have kept hold of star striker Ivan Toney and, will hope the championships golden boot winner of last season can get off the mark this Friday.
The Gunners will play this game at the brand-new Brentford Community Stadium and will hope to kick off the new season with a win as the Bees play their first topflight game in 74 years.
The last time Brentford played in the topflight was 26th may 1947 and their final game of that season was a 1-0 defeat to none other than Arsenal. The Gunners themselves finished 13th that season wrapping up their campaign below Portsmouth but above London rivals Chelsea!
Arteta's disappointing off season.
Arsenal’s preseason has been nothing short of underwhelming. Losing to both Chelsea and Tottenham in the Mind Series has been far from ideal preparation. Pierre-Emerick
Aubameyang has come under fire from his own fans for looking a shadow of his former self and, this preseason having failed to score even a single goal.
Despite Arsenal not looking convincing in preseason, the addition of Albert Sambi Lokonga appears to be a fruitful one as the youngster has caught the eye. Impressive cameos against both of Arsenal’s London rivals in the mind series appears to have moved him above Mo Elneny in the pecking order and the youngster looks set to start or play a significant role in the opening game this Friday.
The main blow for Arsenal is that Thomas Partey is set to miss the first month of the season with injury as the Ghanaian is not due to return to training until the end of the month.
“Thomas sustained an injury to ligaments in his right ankle during the friendly match against Chelsea on August 1st.” (Arsenal.com)
Both Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Magalhaes are going to be out for longer periods as they are not due to return to training until early September.
Brentford midfielder and Hale End product Josh DaSilva will not feature in this game as the Englishman is ruled out with a hip problem.
Leno; Chambers, White, Mari, Tierney, Xhaka, Sambi, Pepe, Smith-Rowe, Aubameyang, Lacazette.
Raya; Jansson, Ajer, Pinnock; Roerslev, Janelt, Onyeka, Norgaard, Henry; Mbeumo, Toney
One to watch.
Nicholas Pepe could be one to look out for this season as the Ivorian ended the last campaign in Red hot form, scoring four goals in Arsenal’s final two games. Pepe could cause a real headache for Brentford’s backline and might provide a moment of magic to determine the outcome of the tie.
How to watch.
This game kicks off at 20:00 (UK time) and will be shown on Sky Sports. Arsenal’s travelling fans have sold out the away section of this ground and this fixture is expected to be a sell out from the home fans too.