Premier League opener: Brentford vs Arsenal, key players to watch out
The 2021/2022 English Premier League season kicks off today when newly-promoted side Brentford take on Arsenal at 20:00 GMT. All eyes will be on this game, with fans worldwide excited to welcome their respective teams in their stadium.
Fans are allowed back in the stadium after a long period due to the covid pandemic and must be very eager to see the game they love so much get started.
The cheers, the jeers, the roar, the celebrations, the passions, the cries, all these have been dearly missed in the game for almost the whole of last season. In previous news, two days ago, Chelsea beat Unai Emery's Villareal team on penalties after going into extra time to lift the UEFA super cup.
Meanwhile, Nigeria's Iheanacho continued his fine form from the end of last season, scoring the game's only goal as Leicester defeated Manchester City 1-0 in this season's community shield final.
Pep Guardiola has now lost 3 consecutive games at the Wembley stadium. Guardiola lost 2-1 to Arsenal in the 2019/2020 FA Cup semi-finals. Before losing 1-0 to Chelsea in the 2020/2021 UEFA Champions Final.
Today's game between Brentford and Arsenal will be packed with loads of events, expectations and curiosity. Arsenal fans around the globe will be keen to see Mikel Arteta's first XI for the first game of the season.
Football Fans are allowed back in the stadium and will be very eager to see the game they love so much get started
There is huge pressure on Mikel Arteta, and he will be hoping to take all 3 points at the end of the game, with Chelsea and Manchester City lurking next on the fixture list.
Arsenal fans will be looking to see a glimpse of their latest signings, including Benjamin White, who joined from fellow English side Brighton. There is also the highly talented Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Taveres, whose playing style has been likened to Bayern Alphonso Davies.
Sambi, a 21-year-old Belgian midfielder who signed from Anderlecht, looked impressive during Arsenal's preseason games. With Thomas Partey injured, He will be hoping to partner Xhaka ahead of Elneny in the heart of the midfield this evening.
On the other side, Brentford, who gained promotion into the English top tier football for the first time in the club's history, will be looking to start on a good note. Going for a win will not be bad after all as they have nothing to lose.
Considering that, Arsenal should be ready for a possible surprise, and Mikel Arteta should expect a very attacking and energetic display from Thomas Frank's side.
Brentford and Arsenal transfers
So far, Arsenal's transfer window has been okay with 3 new arrivals. Arsenal signed left-wing back Nuno Tavares from Benfica to provide competitive cover for Kieran Tierney on the left flank.
Arsenal also brought in Highly rated Belgium deep-lying midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga from Anderlecht. The shocking and most exciting transfer from the gunners is the Arrival of English defender Ben White for a fee rising to 50 million pounds from Brighton.
Many have questioned the Ben White deal, especially when considering the amount spent with Arsenal having other pressing areas to sort out in this seasons transfer window if they want to get back into the top four.
With Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, and Leicester all strengthening their team from last season, there is a huge amount of hill to climb for Mikel Arteta's team.
Brentford has signed Nigerian 23-year-old International Frank Onyeka from FC Midtjylland and Ajer from Celtic and Yoane Wissa from FC Lorient.
Frank Onyeka plays as a midfielder and will be testing his weights in the English Premier League this season.
Key Players to Watch
As fans gather today at the Brighton community stadium, there are key players and moments they will be looking forward to. Team fans will be looking to see their new signings on the green carpet. Below we look at the key players to watch out for, including new and old players.
1. Ben White
Arsenals ben white all smiles in training ahead of the Brentford opening game of the season.
Ben White is a ball-playing defender that suits Mikel Arteta's style of playing out from the back. He is also very versatile, as he did play as a right back in some matches last season for Brighton.
With the price tag hanging around his neck, there will be big expectations from Arsenal fans and the EPL fans in general on him. It will be great he starts very well with a solid and reassuring performance at the heart of the Arsenal defence.
Having played in the premier league at Brighton, it might not take Ben White a while before he settles in the Arsenal team. He will be very key to the way Arsenal build their game from the back this season.
2. Sambi Lokonga
Arsenal's Albert Sambi Lokonga
The 21-year-old was impressive during Arsenal's preseason games. His composure, game management and ball distribution were exquisite and very impressive for a player of such young age.
The Belgium national team has higher leaders of the former tennis player. Thierry Henry, an Arsenal legend who is part of the coaching set-up in The Belgium national team, is a huge fan of the 21-year-old.
With Thomas Partey out injured today, Mikel Arteta will be forced to start Sambi ahead of Elneny alongside Granit Xhaka at the heart of the midfield.
3. Ivan Toney
Ivan Toney, Brentford's Striker with 33 goals and 10 assists last season.
With a record-breaking 33 goals and 10 assists in the Championship last season, Ivan Tony will be someone to watch out for in the premier league. The striker is very tall and very dominant in the final third.
Ivan, in an interview, said the goal for Brentford this season is to win the league. That shows how much ambitious this young lad is, and he is very anxious to get started.
"Winning the League is the success we want. It is a crazy ask, But if you don't set crazy targets, then you are not doing it right," - he said
Ivan has also been tipped by his head coach Thomas Frank to lead the Premier League goal-scoring chart this season, starting with the game against Arsenal today.
Ivan Toney will also be facing off with former colleague Ben White this evening, and it will be interesting to see what happens in that area.
4. Nicholas Pepe
Nicholas Pepe was in fine form towards the end of last season, and he would be hoping to build and continue on that trajectory. This will be Pepe's third season in the Premier League, and with such an amount of potential and the price tag on his neck, He will be hoping that is his breakthrough season.
Pepe joined Arsenal from Lille in a 72 million deal but has not set the Premier League ablaze as expected. The talent is there for all to see, but the end product of his game is still missing.
Mikel Arteta and all Arsenal fans will hope he improves on that front this season and becomes more dominant in the final third. More importantly, in the absence of Aubameyang and Lacazette, Arteta will be expecting Pepe to rise to the occasion and be the leader in the attack.
5. David Raya
The Brentford Goalkeeper was a transfer target for Arsenal last season before the club opted for Matt Ryans. He is so talented and very dominant, and be expecting some great saves from the Spanish Goalkeeper.
David Raya, a former goalkeeping target for Arsenal
Predicted Arsenal starting XI vs Brentford
For Arsenal, Thomas Partey will not be available for the game after sustaining an injury against Chelsea in a preseason match. The latest development this afternoon is that Aubameyang and Lacazette are both ill and will not be available.
That leaves Balogun as the only natural striker in the team as Nketiah is also out injured. Balogun, who signed a new contract with the gunners last season, will be looking to take his opportunities and impress.
Meanwhile, regarding Saka, after the event that happened in the Euros and with him only coming off as a substitute against Tottenham in their last preseason game, I expect him to be on the bench this evening. Still, with Lacazette and Aubameyang out, Arteta will be forced to start the young English man.
Below is the Arsenals predicted starting XI against Brentford:
Arsenal predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Leno, Bellerin, White, Mari, Tierney - Xhaka, Lokonga - Smith Rowe, Pepe, Balogun, Saka.
Unavailable Players: Thomas Partey (Injured), Nketiah (Injured), Gabriel (Injured), Lacazette (Sick), Aubmayang (Sick).
Brentford's team are very attacking minded and could be the leads united version of this season. They have a very effective striker in Ivan Toney and will be looking to replicate their Championship high chance-creating and goal-scoring stats in the Premier League this season.
This game is a hard call looking at the depleted Arsenal team. I will predict a win for Arsenal here.
Brentford vs Arsenal prediction: 1-2