Fabio Vieira celebrates his first goal for Arsenal.© AFP
Arsenal returned to the top of the Premier League as goals from William Saliba, Gabriel Jesus and Fabio Vieira added brilliance to a dominant performance to beat Brentford 3-0. Injuries to captain Martin Odegaard and Oleksandr Zinchenko had stretched Mikel Arteta’s squad so much that 15-year-old Ethan Nwaneri came off the bench late to become the youngest player in Premier League history. However, the Gunners showed no sign of weakness on a ground where they were beaten 2-0 last season to come back one point over Manchester City and Tottenham at the top of the table.
The match had been moved forward two hours to ease police pressure around Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral and Britain’s longest-serving monarch was commemorated by a minute’s silence before kick-off.
Once the action got underway it was a 45-minute one-way street as Arsenal returned in style from their only defeat of the season against Manchester United two weeks ago.
Gabriel Martinelli should have opened the scoring within two minutes when he flicked his shot out of Granit Xhaka’s cut-back.
It was only fifteen minutes before Arsenal broke through when Saliba drove in Bukayo Saka’s corner from the far post.
Jesus also used his head to score his fourth goal in seven Premier League games since coming from Manchester City, as he landed another tempting delivery from Xhaka.
Saka was then wasteful with a glorious chance from Fabio Vieira’s through ball.
Odegaard’s absence also gave Vieira his first Premier League start and the Portuguese midfielder made his mark four minutes into the second half with a luscious attack from outside the box.
Brentford striker Ivan Toney had been given his first England call-up mid-week but was kept in check by Saliba’s towering presence.
The Bees hope this was just a bad day after an impressive start to the season and that Thomas Frank will still take the lead after the international break with the Dane linked as a potential successor to Brendan Rodgers at Leicester.
But an easy day for Arsenal ended with a minute from time when Arteta Nwaneri was able to hand over his debut as just 15 years and 181 days, breaking Harvey Elliott’s record as the youngest player in Premier League history when he played for Fulham appeared as a 16-year-old.
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