Kai Havertz comes alive and takes down Brentford, propelling Arsenal to the top position.

No matter what outcomes Arsenal experiences this season, Mikel Arteta will understand that the win from substitute Kai Havertz’s last-minute header could hold immense value.

An unimpressive performance against a determined Brentford team, in which Aaron Ramsdale struggled in his return as goalkeeper, appeared to be heading towards a disappointing end as the game neared its final minutes. However, despite a challenging start to his time at the club after transferring from Chelsea in the summer, Havertz managed to score from a cross by Bukayo Saka in the 89th minute.

Arteta’s team’s victory has placed them at the top of the league for the first time this season. After a challenging evening, the manager brought Havertz over to celebrate with the away fans when the game ended. The goalkeeper, Ramsdale, was particularly on edge due to not being able to play against his own club, but luckily managed to keep a clean sheet despite almost giving Brentford the lead in the first half.

However, Arteta’s leadership and team spirit were evident in his 200th game as Arsenal manager when the entire team rushed to embrace their goalkeeper after the game. “He displayed incredible bravery,” Arteta said of Ramsdale. “As a manager, it brings me great joy to see this kind of reaction. Supporting and showing love for each other – it doesn’t get any better than that. Today marks my 200th game and I couldn’t be prouder of the team.”

The draw between Manchester City and Liverpool provided additional motivation for Arsenal to achieve a result. However, Brentford has not lost at home since their defeat to Arteta’s team in the EFL Cup almost two months ago and is always a formidable opponent. Arsenal had the return of Gabriel Jesus and Martin Ødegaard in their starting lineup after five weeks, but it was Ramsdale who stood out in the initial exchanges for negative reasons.

He made a clearance that went out of bounds right before trying to take a goal-kick with Gabriel Magalhães, which almost resulted in a disaster. Yoane Wissa was fast in pressuring him and Ramsdale appeared to panic as the Brentford player approached. The ball fell to Bryan Mbeumo, whose shot was expertly stopped on the goal line by Declan Rice. Ramsdale was surely relieved when Wissa missed the rebound. The Brentford fans taunted him, singing “You’re just a terrible David Raya.”

Aaron Ramsdale applauds Arsenal’s fans after the final whistle.

Ødegaard was positioned in a deeper midfield position next to Rice, while Leandro Trossard was responsible for providing support to Jesus in the center. However, Trossard miscalculated a header from a corner and it went over the crossbar. Brentford, with Yehor Yarmoliuk marking his full debut in midfield, also had difficulty breaking through, except for a missed attempt by Christian Nørgaard.

There have been reports connecting Arsenal to a potential signing of Ivan Toney in January, once the striker returns from his suspension for gambling. However, it seems improbable that Brentford would permit his departure, as Mbeumo and Wissa are both likely to be absent for the Africa Cup of Nations. Nonetheless, Trossard demonstrated the exact type of scoring ability that Arsenal is in need of when he quickly responded to Mark Flekken’s block from a Jesus header and headed it in from close range. Unfortunately for him, VAR determined that he was slightly ahead of the ball, resulting in the goal being disallowed.

The mood of Arteta would not have gotten any better as Gabriel Martinelli sent a cross out of bounds at the beginning of the second half. The situation could have become even more challenging for the Arsenal manager when Wissa’s cleverly executed flick allowed Mbeumo to get past an unprepared Oleksandr Zinchenko, but the forward from Cameroon missed his shot wide of the post closest to him.

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Eddie Nketiah nearly had an immediate impact as a substitute when he leapt for Martinelli’s cross, but Ben Mee made an impressive header to remove the threat. Flekken then almost gifted Arsenal a goal when he hesitated with the ball under pressure from Saka, but the goalkeeper remained composed.

Zinchenko made a spectacular save on the goal line to stop Neal Maupay from scoring in the final moments of the match, after the substitute connected with Mbeumo’s cross. Thomas Frank noted, “We matched Arsenal throughout the entire game.”

However, Havertz managed to liven up the uneventful second half with a goal assisted by Saka, leaving Flekken unsure and propelling Arsenal to the top of the standings.

Source: theguardian.com