Havertz nets late header at Brentford to send Arsenal top

Kai Havertz came off the bench to score a late header and send Arsenal top of the Premier League with a 1-0 win at Brentford.

Aaron Ramsdale initially made a shaky return on his first start since September due to David Raya being ineligible to face his parent club and was spared by a superb goal-line clearance from Declan Rice in the first half after making an error.

Arsenal thought they had taken the lead when Leandro Trossard nodded in before the break but he was ruled offside following a VAR check.

Brentford pushed for a winner in the second half as Arsenal stuttered. The Gunners had Oleksandr Zinchenko to thank for making a goal-line block to deny substitute Neal Maupay before snatching victory in the final minute when Havertz headed in from Bukayo Saka’s cross.

Player ratings:

Brentford: Flekken (6), Pinnock (7), Norgaard (6), Wissa (6), Ghoddos (6), Onyeka (6), Mee (7), Mbeumo (6), Ajer (6), Janelt (7), Yarmoliuk (6).

Subs: Maupay (6), Baptiste (6), Lewis-Potter (n/a), Jorgensen (n/a)

Arsenal: Ramsdale (6), Tomiyasu (7), Gabriel (7), Saliba (7), Zinchenko (7); Rice (7), Odegaard (6), Trossard (6); Saka (7), Jesus (6), Martinelli (6).

Subs: Nketiah (6), Havertz (7), Jorginho (n/a), White (n/a)

Player of the Match: Oleksandr Zinchenko

How Arsenal beat Brentford

Bryan Mbeumo fails to capitalise on Aaron Ramsdale's error
Bryan Mbeumo almost punished Aaron Ramsdale’s error in the first half

Ramsdale was taunted by the Brentford fans with every touch and he nearly gifted them the lead in the 14th minute.

The goalkeeper dallied in the six-yard box and was tackled by Yoane Wissa, the ball breaking for Bryan Mbeumo, whose shot was superbly blocked on the line by Rice with Wissa unable to turn home the rebound.

Team news:

  • Saman Ghoddos, Frank Onyeka and Yehor Yarmoliuk came into the Brentford starting XI.
  • Nathan Collins, Mads Roerslev and Mathias Jensen all drop out and none of them were on the bench.
  • Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Jesus both returned from injury to start for Arsenal.
  • Aaron Ramsdale came in for goalkeeper David Raya, who was ineligible to face his parent club.

Ramsdale then had his head in his shirt after his attempt to throw the ball out bounced just yards in front of him and straight to Brentford.

At the other end, Arsenal were composed, probing the opposition’s defence with patient attacks. Mark Flekken had denied a deflected Gabriel Jesus shot moments before Arsenal thought they had taken the lead.

Leandro Trossard heads the ball into the Brentford net only for his effort to be ruled out by VAR for offside
Leandro Trossard heads the ball into the Brentford net only for his effort to be ruled out by VAR for offside

Trossard pounced to nod in from close range but the VAR ruled the goal out as the forward was offside from Jesus’ initial header which had been parried into the air by Flekken.

Brentford had the better of the second half without creating many clear chances. Maupay’s close-range header was brilliantly kept out by Zinchenko which galvanised the Gunners.

Rice drove them forward, seeing a deflected shot go narrowly wide before Havertz made the telling impact. Saka cut in from the right and sent a cross to the back post where Havertz’ stooping header crept past Flekken.

Arteta on Havertz: That’s what big players do

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta:

“I’m so happy with the team, with the way they performed, we got the clean sheet and I’m so happy with how everybody played.

“We should’ve scored earlier than that, but this is a really tough place to come.

“Credit to Brentford for what they do to every team. We showed a lot of resilience and belief.

“I’m delighted for Kai. You only have to see the reaction of everyone, how much they love him, and what he brings to the team. It’s what he needs to do.

“We believed he could change the game with the way they were defending, and it was the perfect timing, perfect execution. He won the game for us – that’s what big players do.”

Frank: It was a completely even game

Brentford manager Thomas Frank:

“We did so many things right. It was a very even game. They had more on the ball which is no surprise. But it was completely even.

“Two chances to each team and unfortunately they scored one of them and we didn’t. It should have been a draw but games that tight can be decided by one margin going the wrong way or one quality action.

“I’m pleased with the performance and the effort of the players. That was game number 13 and we have performed well in 12 of them. We have performed to get more points than we have got so far. I still think that’s a good sign. Hopefully, we can continue the good performances going forward so we can get more points.”

Opta Stats: Arteta wins on 200th game

  • Arsenal finish the day top of the Premier League table for the first time this season. With the top two (Man City and Liverpool) drawing 1-1 earlier, this is now the second time in Premier League history that the top two have met but neither have finished the day top, after 28th November 2015 (Leicester 1-1 Manchester United, Man City finished the day top).
  • Brentford have lost their first Premier League London derby in 15 such matches (W8 D6), since a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal in this exact fixture last season, while the Gunners extend their run to 17 games unbeaten in London derbies in the competition (W12 D5).
  • Mikel Arteta has won 116 of his 200 games in charge of Arsenal in all competitions, the most wins of any manager in their first 200 games in charge of the club (previously Arsene Wenger, 111).
  • Arsenal have had 10 goals scored via substitutes this season in all competitions, the joint most of any Premier League side (Brighton also 10).

Fantasy Premier League stats

FPL stats: Brentford 0-1 Arsenal

Goals Havertz
Assists Saka
Bonus points Zinchenko (3pts), Saka (2pts), Tomiyasu (1pt)

Play Fantasy Premier League and see more stats here

What’s next?

Brentford host Luton in the Premier League on Saturday December 3; kick-off 3pm.

Meanwhile, Arsenal are in Champions League action on Wednesday when they host RC Lens; kick-off 8pm.

They then host Wolves in the Premier League on Saturday December 2; kick-off 3pm.

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