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From standard.co.uk

On Saturday, we entertain Brentford for their first visit to the Emirates since September 2018, when we saw them off 3-1 in the Third Round of the League Cup. A late strike by Alexander Lacazette, who had come on for ESR making his first start in the senior team, complemented a brace from Danny Welbeck. Laca was a goal-scoring striker back then.

Our previous home league game against the Bees was more than three-quarters of a century ago. Reg Lewis and Jimmy Logie were our goal scorers in a 2-2 draw in October 1946 in the old First Division, only the fourth game at Highbury after the post-war return of league football.

Lewis scored 392 goals in 451 games in an Arsenal shirt. However, having broken into the first team in 1938-39 after scoring prolifically as a teenager for the Football Combination side, he lost the first bloom of his senior career to World War Two. Only 176 of his games and 118 goals count for the record book. Otherwise, Ian Wright might have chased Lewis’s goal-scoring record, not Cliff Bastin’s. Perhaps, TH14, too.

Lewis was 26 when league football resumed after the war. His Brentford goal was one of 29 that season. He and Ronnie Rooke, of whom we have spoken recently, scored 47 goals in the 1947-48 title-winning side. The apogee of Lewis’s career was scoring both goals when we beat Liverpool in the rain-sodden 1950 FA Cup Final.

Of the elite group of 19 who have scored 100 senior goals for the club, only Ian Wright, Ted Drake and Jack Lambert notched their century in fewer games than Reg Lewis.

Apian Bogey
In his programme notes for the October 1946 game, ‘Marksman’, the nom de plume of programme editor Harry Homer, noted that “It seems that the humming of ‘The Bees’ in the past often boded ill for us of ‘The Gunners’”.

Brentford had the hex on our all-conquering team of the 1930s; we beat them just once in eight attempts. When we won the league in 1937-38, the Bees did the double over us. As Marksman put it, ‘many, in fact, called them our bogey team.’

The bogey returned for our most recent meeting, the 2-0 defeat in the opening game of this season in West London. We fielded a team more deprived by Covid than realised from the outside when the team sheet was handed in. Nonetheless, it was the first time we had lost to a newly-promoted team in their opening game of the season since Bristol City beat us in Malcolm Macdonald’s debut game in 1976.

With Chelsea and City following, cue general weeping and gnashing of teeth as Arsenal was cast into the outer darkness by those in the less enlightened parts of the Goonerverse and beyond.

The Opposition
Yet now only City, Liverpool and Chelsea have won more league games than we have while only Norwich City and Watford have lost more than Brentford. Last Saturday’s scoreless draw with Crystal Palace broke a five-match losing run, seven counting FA and League Cup defeats. That is the Bees’ worst run of form since 2007 when they were in Division Two.

One problem has been scoring goals; 26 in 25 league games. Ivan Toney is the leading scorer with six. Fellow strikers Brian Mbeumo and Yale Wissa have three apiece. Toney has not proved as prolific in the Premiership as he was in the Championship, not because he has become a less efficient striker, but because he is getting fewer chances.

Manager Thomas Frank will hope that his Danish compatriot, Christian Eriksen, will address that. Eriksen joined in January after recovering from a cardiac arrest last June during a Euro 2020 game. While, thankfully, fit to resume his career, he has still to regain match fitness. He had an hour’s run-out in a friendly on Monday, but a place on the bench on Saturday is probably the most to expect.

Toney is more likely than not to return, having missed the past two games with a leg injury. Otherwise, Brentford will likely line up with the same players in the same flat 3-5-2 formation that served to defeat us on opening day.

The Arsenal
Our XI will, perforce, be much changed. Only Tierney, White and Xhaka of that starting XI are nailed on to kick off on Saturday. One of Smith Rowe or Pépé may join them depending on how Arteta replaces the suspended Martinelli.

Of the others from that day, Mari and Chambers have been sold, Leno (back from a Covid absence) and Lokonga are now cover for Ramsdale and Partey, respectively, and Balogun is out on loan, as are four others who were on the bench, Hein, Bellerin, Maitland-Niles and Nelson.

Having had more than a week to recover from the backs-to-the-wall heroics of Molineux, I would expect Arteta to name at least nine out of his Wolves starting eleven.

The choice of Martinelli’s replacement falls between Smith Rowe and Pépé. I favour the latter to start. It looks as if ESR is still being nursed through injury and his minutes managed, plus the way around a 3-5-2 is to counterattack down the flanks. Arteta, of course, may take the opposite view.

The other uncertainty is at right-back. Tomiyasu is so important to Arteta’s scheme of play that the manager will play him for as much of the game as he feels the defender can manage without aggravating his injury. That may mean a start or coming off the bench. Cédric Soares is his understudy. White to right-back and Holding partnering Gabriel in the centre of the defence is an option, but Arteta will, I believe, want to keep the White-Gabriel partnership developing. A tough call on Rob, who was outstanding during his 25 minutes at Wolves.

Tomiyasu/Soares, White, Gabriel, Tierney
Partey, Xhaka
Saka, Ødegaard, Pépé

Bench: Leno, Soares/Tomiyasu, Holding, Tavares, Elneny, Smith Rowe, Nketiah

It scarcely needs to be said that this is a game we need to come out of with all three points. We need a substantial run of wins to have a shot at securing fourth place or even a top-six finish. Sixteen games to go, including trips to Chelsea, West Ham and the neighbours and visits from Liverpool and Man Utd, leaves little room for letting points slip against mid-table sides.

The ‘holics’ pound
The bookies have us as odds-on favourites. There is scant value to be found unless we rediscover our shooting boots. A 3-1 win can be had at 13s and 4-0 at 21s. Yet, Brentford tends not to get beaten heavily. A more realistic 2-0 is available at a miserly sixes, as is the classic 1-0 to The Arsenal.

Enjoy the game, ‘holics near and far.

46 Drinks to “Banish the Brentford Bogey”

  1. 1
    scruzgooner says:

    a rare first, for thirst.

    now to read the article 🙂

  2. 2
    ClockEndRider says:

    Nice write up, Ned, with some very interesting history in there. I shall be in attendance tomorrow and am looking forward to it greatly. A minimum of 4 points from this weeks 2 games is a must given the games still to be played as you point out above.

  3. 3
    Lulu says:

    Love the story on Reg Lewis. Gabriel suspended for this one?

  4. 4
    scruzgooner says:

    a fine read, ned. tipple of your choice on the bar. maybe nothing with honey in it (such as the tonic wine from those monks at buckfast).

  5. 5
    Silly Second Yella says:

    …best served cold

  6. 6
    TTG says:

    Excellent preview Ned with lots of fascinating detail .My Dad was a huge fan of Reg Lewis and I noted once that I was born almost exactly nine months after Reg’s brace in the Final of 1950 !
    You’ve covered the team issues very well. I think Mari is on loan to Udinese but I doubt he will return if Saliba comes back . I like your logic about the team selection and the White/ Gabriel partnership. There is noise about Biereth or Hutchinson breaking into the team but they must try Pepe first .
    Brentford are starting to struggle and I think we will win 2-0. I shall watch the game from Club Level !

  7. 7
    Doctor Faustus says:

    A delightful preview as always Ned! Now in Reg Lewis I know about one more Arsenal striker to introduce to the junior, who already has read up on Cliff Bastin and Ted Drake. :–)

    I agree with your line-up. And hopefully the front four will click enough to get us back among the goals. A convincing win would help in the next few matches against tougher opponents.

  8. 8
    Bathgooner says:

    Great stuff Ned. I enjoyed your info on the ‘pre-history’ of this fixture and of Reg Lewis and like your starting 12 – it’s the best we can put out without Martinelli. We simply must win this game – I really don’t care by how many. If we can’t beat Brentford at our place then we won’t get and frankly, don’t deserve fourth place.

    Great to see you in the bar, Lulu. Don’t be a stranger! There’s a glass of Australian sunshine on the bar and Mitzi says hi to her favourite vet in her own extremely warm (but somewhat manipulative) fashion. 🐶

  9. 9
    Bathgooner says:

    SSY @5, better still, not served at all or, if you must, then served to someone else.

  10. 10
    North Bank Ned says:

    Thanks, all, for the kind words.

    As a bonus bit of trivia, it was programme editor, Harry Homer who was the inspiration for adopting Victoria Concordia Crescit as the club motto.

    scruz@4: Buckfast Tonic Wine? The monks do uphold certain standards. Mead, perhaps, if we have to slum it.

    TTG@6: There are celebrations and then there are celebrations.

  11. 11
    North Bank Ned says:

    Another one who got away?


  12. 12
    scruzgooner says:

    ned @10, my point. bought a bottle of the stuff on spec, took a drink and it lasted more than 15 years gathering dust in my bar. a good example of a bad example!

  13. 13
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks Ned, your usual entertaining and informative preview. I was at that Bristol City game in 1976! We should have won 5-1.
    Would love to see Laca getting his scoring boots back on in a convincing 3-0 win…

  14. 14
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@13: I’d love to see Laca score another goal or two like the one he got against Brentford in the League Cup. Took the ball with his back to goal, spun and powered through his defender and then shot unerringly into the bottom corner.

  15. 15
    OsakaMatt says:

    Yeah, he used to do that more often, an end of season revival would be very welcome.

  16. 16
    BOllie says:

    Nice B-blog, Borth Bank Bed.
    I like the historical bits. Great Trivia @10 too, cheers!
    Let’s Beat the Bees!

  17. 17
    Trev says:

    Thanks, Ned, for another history packed and interesting preview.

    Three points vital to consolidate our push for ssshhh!, you know what 🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻

  18. 18
    bt8 says:

    Thanks, Ned. Banana skin, bogey or say what you will, we are at home to a club that beat us in the reverse fixture so we must put them to the sword. What with Covid-related interruptions and such the home support have not been able to exercise their lungs for quite some time, unless they’ve been doing en masse heavy breathing exercises on their own, so they can do their part with a rousing performance today (even if somewhat muffled by their masks) to egg the boys on to another important victory. COYG

  19. 19
    Esso says:

    Arsenal: Ramsdale, Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tierney, Xhaka, Partey, Odegaard, Smith Rowe, Saka, Lacazette

    Subs: Leno, Holding, Tomiyasu, Tavares, Lokonga, Elneny, Nketiah, Hutchinson, Pepe

  20. 20
    North Bank Ned says:

    Hopefully ESR starting means that he is fully fit. Will be interesting to see how many minutes Tomiyasu can manage off the bench, and how many Pepe is given.

  21. 21
    OsakaMatt says:

    Joe W might have done us a favour today.

  22. 22
    Silly Second Yella says:


  23. 23
    Esso says:

    Just realised – Omari Hutchinson on the bench.

  24. 24
    OsakaMatt says:

    Frustrating first half so far, though I’d have given the penalty for Cedric’s blocked shot.
    Totally dominant but can’t quite find a way through.

  25. 25
    scruzgooner says:

    at one point we had 82% possession!

    hopefully they will tire, even playing 8 at the back.

  26. 26
    scruzgooner says:


  27. 27
    OsakaMatt says:

    Get in ESR!
    Just what we needed to start the 2nd half

  28. 28
    OsakaMatt says:

    Great goal too

  29. 29
    scruzgooner says:

    indeed, matt. he made it look easy, though.

  30. 30
    scruzgooner says:

    laca’s passing has been painful to watch so far.

  31. 31
    OsakaMatt says:

    They nearly got in there, could do with the second to kill this one off.

  32. 32
    OsakaMatt says:

    Pépé coming on, for ESR I guess

  33. 33
    OsakaMatt says:

    Straight swap with Pepe on the left, can’t remember the last time I saw him
    Aargh had to score but Odegaard didn’t finish though the keeper did well to be fair

  34. 34
    scruzgooner says:

    get in bukayo!!

  35. 35
    OsakaMatt says:

    Get in Saka! Another nice finish

  36. 36
    scruzgooner says:

    eddie for laca, 83d minute.

  37. 37
    OsakaMatt says:

    Eddie on for Laca.
    Laca worked hard today, but not going for him.

    KT takes the captain’s armband

  38. 38
    OsakaMatt says:

    Booking for Gabriel but had to make the tackle I think.
    They have very little up front with Toney out.

  39. 39
    OsakaMatt says:

    Bollocks, they scored after I said they had nothing. Spoiled our clean sheet but I’ll take the three points

  40. 40
    scruzgooner says:

    matt i’d written a post about liking the trend of wins and clean sheets. was going to send on the final whistle. but nooooo…

  41. 41
    OsakaMatt says:

    😂, they really didn’t deserve a goal either

    If Shitteh beat spuds, they’ll be six points back, that’s a cheery thought

  42. 42
    scruzgooner says:

    they really didn’t. poor defense in that moment.

    i want city to shred those fuckers.

  43. 43
    Silly Second Yella says:

    no no no no

    bloody idiots **** ***

  44. 44
    bt8 says:

    Looks like we took maximum points. I can report that the NYC transit system still seems to work quite efficiently, and the renovated part of LGA airport where I am waiting is immeasurably pleasanter than the old LGA. Had to walk a long distance through other airport areas where they are still renovating to get here, but there’s a great view over the water of the Mets’ stadium and the US Open tennis center once you finally make it through the construction.

  45. 45
    TTG says:

    I’ve sent the report to the techies

  46. 46
    scruzgooner says: