FootballSports

Arsenal overpower Brentford to regain Premier League top spot

LONDON: Arsenal moved back to the top of the Premier League with a dominant 3-0 win at Brentford, while Everton beat West Ham 1-0 to get their first victory of the season on Sunday. Injuries to captain Martin Odegaard and Oleksandr Zinchenko had stretched Arsenal’s squad to the extent 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 at a ground where they were beaten 2-0 last season to move back one point above Manchester City and Tottenham at the top of the table. William Saliba and Gabriel Jesus headed in before half-time and Fabio Vieira marked his first Premier League start with a stunning strike after the break.

Brentford boss Thomas Frank said he believes Arsenal will be title contenders and they played like it to blow away the Bees in the first 45 minutes. “We have a different mentality this season,” said Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka. “We are training like we play and have class with the players that can make a difference.” The match had been moved forward two hours to help ease police pressures around Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral and Britain’s longest serving monarch was remembered in a minute’s silence before kick-off.

Once the action did get underway, it was one way traffic as Arsenal bounced back in style from their sole defeat of the season away to Manchester United two weeks ago. It took just 17 minutes for Mikel Arteta’s men to make the breakthrough when Saliba flicked Bukayo Saka’s corner in off the far post. Jesus also used his head to score his fourth goal in seven Premier League games since joining from Manchester City as he powered home an enticing delivery from Xhaka.

‘Gut feeling’ on Nwaneri

The absence of Odegaard also made room for Vieira and the Portuguese midfielder made his mark with a sumptuous strike from outside the box to kill off any doubt over the outcome four minutes into the second half. An easy day for Arsenal was rounded off a minute from time when Arteta was able to hand Nwaneri his debut as just 15 years and 181 days, breaking Harvey Elliott’s record as the youngest player in Premier League history when he appeared for Fulham as a 16-year-old.

“It was a pure gut feeling,” said Arteta on handing Nwaneri a debut. “Yesterday he had to come because we have injuries, especially the injury of Martin and then I had that feeling from yesterday that if the opportunity could come that I was going to do it.” At the other end of the table, West Ham will spend the upcoming international break in the bottom three after Neal Maupay’s first Everton goal gave the Toffees a much-needed win.

Frank Lampard’s men are now unbeaten in five league games but had just four points on the board before kick-off from four consecutive draws. An injury to Dominic Calvert-Lewin forced Everton to seek more firepower in the final weeks of the transfer window and Maupay delivered on just his second appearance since a move from Brighton. The Frenchman spun onto Alex Iwobi’s pass and fired in from the edge of the area to lift Everton up to 13th in the table. West Ham slip to 18th with just one win from their opening seven league games.

Spurs hit six

Meanwhile, Son Heung-min said he never doubted he would end his goal drought as the South Korea star responded to being dropped by hitting an incredible 13-minute hat-trick in Tottenham’s 6-2 rout of Leicester on Saturday. Son came off the bench to score Tottenham’s last three goals, including a pair of brilliant long-range finishes, in an emphatic victory that lifted them into second place in the Premier League.

It was the ideal response from Son after he had been axed for failing to score in his previous eight appearances. Just days after Tottenham boss Antonio Conte had warned that no player was undroppable, Dejan Kulusevski came in for Son, who finished as the Premier League’s joint top scorer last season. Explaining Son’s omission, Conte said: “We needed to start making rotations because playing all the same players in all the games is not good.”

The 30-year-old’s treble showed he won’t sulk when Conte wants to take him out of the firing line. “My finishing has been poor this season. I’ve also been a little bit unlucky,” Son said. “I was really disappointed, but I knew the goal was coming and I wasn’t worried about it. I was working hard and always want to help the team. “I’m always having great supporters behind me and great staff. This makes me always believe and make me strong in these tough moments. I’m getting emotional to be honest, with the amazing support.”

It was the perfect evening for Tottenham, who bounced back after losing for the first time in eight games this season on Tuesday when Sporting Lisbon scored twice in stoppage-time to seal a 2-0 win in the Champions League. Tottenham’s fifth win from seven league games moved them above Arsenal and level on points with leaders Manchester City. Bottom of the table Leicester’s sixth successive defeat will pile pressure on boss Brendan Rodgers.

“It’s been a really difficult start. It’s my responsibility. Whatever happens to me at Leicester, whether I stay and fight on, I’ll always respect them,” Rodgers said. Beleaguered Leicester had taken the lad when Davinson Sanchez conceded a spot-kick with a needless lunge on James Justin. Hugo Lloris saved Youri Tielemans’ penalty, but VAR showed the Tottenham keeper had stepped off his line before the kick, giving the Belgian midfielder a retake that he gratefully converted.

Sublime Son

Since spending a disappointing loan spell at Leicester early in his career, Harry Kane had tormented the Foxes with 19 goals against them before this latest meeting. Kane took that tally to 20 as the England captain escaped Timothy Castagne’s slack marking to meet Kulusevski’s cross with a clinical far post header in the eighth minute. Leicester’s weakness in aerial duels was exposed again in the 21st minute when Eric Dier ran across his marker to score with a fine glancing header from Ivan Perisic’s corner. – AFP

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