Mikel Arteta was left concerned by Arsenal’s lack of a cutting edge after they started the new Premier League season with a disappointing 2-0 defeat away at Brentford.
The Gunners had 22 shots but managed to get just four on target on Friday, though their cause was not aided by the absences of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette due to illness.
Folarin Balogun was handed a first league start but was substituted after 59 minutes, by which time Arsenal were already behind following Sergi Canos’ first-half opener.
Worryingly, Arteta saw his team then concede a second from a long throw, Christian Norgaard heading in to seal a famous result for Brentford. In contrast, Arsenal have much to work on ahead of a home game against Chelsea next.
“It’s very different to how we wanted to start the season,” Arteta told Sky Sports.
“We didn’t start well in the first half. We conceded a goal in an isolated action, we didn’t cope well enough with the long ball for the second goal.
“We conceded the second one from a long throw, then the biggest worry was the threat we had in front of goal, how many times we arrived in great situations but not enough threat, not enough shots on target.
“If you don’t do those things in the Premier League, it is going to be difficult to win.
He added: “We weren’t good enough to beat them. To do that, you need to do certain basics right and we didn’t.
“In the box, we need more threat, as much as possible. When we get in these positions, we must be more ruthless.”
22 – Arsenal had 22 shots without scoring against Brentford, their most without finding the net in a Premier League match since December 2017 against West Ham (also 22). Profligate. pic.twitter.com/LtY87TE0mu
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 13, 2021
Arteta felt goalkeeper Bernd Leno was held during the long-throw situation that led to Brentford’s second.
The Spaniard said: “They put somebody on the keeper, they can hold him and it’s no free-kick. The keeper cannot move, the ball lands and then it’s a goal. That is allowed in the Premier League.”
In contrast, Brentford boss Thomas Frank was able to take great delight in an unforgettable occasion for a club he jokingly described as “just a bus stop in Hounslow” in reference to a fan chant.
“The fans were amazing, what an atmosphere,” said Frank. “First time in the top flight, opening the Premier League season, we are number one in the table, it’s a fantastic story.
“We’re just a bus stop in Hounslow – we’re not supposed to be here!”
Brentford’s second goal came from an area Frank hoped they could exploit against Arsenal, who had handed a debut to new signing Ben White at centre-back.
“On set-pieces we thought we were better, that’s why we did the long throws,” he said. “We also thought there was a chance we could get high, that we could win the ball and create chances.
“I think today the players deserve the praise and to celebrate a bit. It’s been a hard pre-season, you can see that they were fit and could run.”