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A momentous day for Brentford Football Club occurred at 2pm on Thursday, as talisman Ivan Toney earned his maiden call-up to the England squad for September’s Nations League matches, and a spot in Gareth Southgate‘s World Cup squad is firmly within his sights.
In truth, it would have been impossible to resist the inclusion of Toney based on his exhilarating performance against Leeds alone, as he demonstrated his proficiency from the penalty spot, a free kick and a long-range lob to take home the match ball.
Yoane Wissa and Bryan Mbeumo also netted in a 5-2 demolition job of the Whites, which ended a three-game winless run in the Premier League for Brentford, who continue to sit pretty in the top half of the table – eighth to be exact at this moment in time.
Despite Arsenal’s standing as league leaders, only Manchester City (20) have found the back of the net more times than Brentford (15) in Premier League action this term, with Liverpool – only ahead of the Bees on goal difference – also notching up 15 strikes of their own from six matches.
Ten of Brentford’s 15 goals this season have come on their own turf, where they have only lost one of their last eight top-flight fixtures, and no Arsenal fan will need reminding of their team’s inaugural trip to the Brentford Community Stadium.
Marquinhos and Eddie Nketiah propelled a much-changed Arsenal side over the line against FC Zurich, but Arteta’s young crop failed their first real test of the Premier League season against Manchester United last time out, with Antony and Marcus Rashford getting the job done 3-1 for the Red Devils.
Nevertheless, Arsenal will finish gameweek seven at the top of the table with victory at the Brentford Community Stadium, although they could drop to third on Saturday if Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur both win, and it is now four games without a clean sheet in all competitions for the early pacesetters.
Brentford’s first-ever match in the Premier League saw them overcome a lacklustre Arsenal side 2-0 last August, but the Gunners responded with a 2-1 success at home, and the visitors’ underbelly is nowhere near as soft as it was in 2021
Brentford duo Christian Norgaard and Ethan Pinnock are expected to remain absent until after the international break, but Thomas Frank is hopeful that Sergi Canos will be able to feature on Sunday.
Ex-Arsenal youngster Josh Dasilva – who spent 12 years as a Gunner before leaving in 2018 – could come in for a start against his former club, although he will likely need to fend off competition from Frank Onyeka to displace Shandon Baptiste.
New boy Keane Lewis-Potter lasted just 58 minutes against Brentford, and with Wissa providing impetus off the bench as ever, the former will be fearing for his place in the first XI.
As for the injury-hit Arsenal, the Gunners have supposedly been handed a major boost with the return of Thomas Partey to training, and the Ghana international is expected to be in contention for this game. Whether Arteta risks him from the start, though, is another question entirely.
Reiss Nelson and Mohamed Elneny are definite absentees for Arsenal, who are also keeping their fingers crossed over Emile Smith Rowe (groin) and Cedric Soares (knock) after the pair missed out against Zurich.
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Ben White was a surprising omission from the England squad – Arteta denied any injury problems for the 24-year-old at his pre-game press conference – but Oleksandr Zinchenko has picked up a fresh muscular problem.
The Ukrainian FA have announced that Zinchenko is set for a two-week absence, so Kieran Tierney will once again start at left-back for the Gunners.
Brentford possible starting lineup:
Raya; Hickey, Jansson, Mee, Henry; Jensen, Janelt, Dasilva; Mbeumo, Toney, Wissa
Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Ramsdale; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney; Xhaka, Lokonga; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Jesus