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Arsenal’s record-breaking teenage debutant Ethan Nwaneri makes his Premier League debut

With such a comfortable revenge win, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was able to give the Premier League’s youngest player a dream debut. Granit Xhaka, the stand-in captain, was at the heart of this emphatic victory, which saw them return to the top of the fledgling Premier League table. The goals came from William Saliba, Gabriel Jesus and debutant Fabio Vieira, but the history maker was schoolboy substitute Ethan Nwaneri. The England youth international entered the game in the final minutes. He replaces Cesc Fabregas (16 years 5 months 24 days) as Arsenal’s youngest player ever at the age of 15 years, 5 months, and 23 days. Harvey Elliott (16 years, 30 days) of Liverpool was the previous youngest Premier League player. The most recent Arsenal youth product is so young that he had to change in his own locker room due to child protection regulations. “It was just a gut feeling,” Arteta said later. “I met the boy and was impressed by what I saw. Per Mertesacker (Arsenal’s youth director) and the academy staff are providing me with valuable information, as is Edu.” He’s trained with us a few times. He had to come in on Saturday due to injuries, particularly Martin Odegaard’s. I had this feeling since then that if the opportunity arose, I would take it, and I did.” It’s a new step, a new experience. All of your steps in your career will not be forward. After that, he may need three steps back to move forward again, but I believe he earned it. It also sends a strong message about who we are as a club, that we provide opportunities when there is talent.” When Arsenal lost here on the first day of the season last year, Brentford striker Ivan Toney mocked them by describing the game as a “nice kick about with the boys.” Arsenal players like Gabriel were quick to respond to the Brentford camp’s Twitter comment this time. Toney’s Brentford, in contrast to last season, were unable to cope in a gloomy atmosphere. In honor of the Queen’s recent death, the pre-match warm-up was subdued. Arteta’s starting lineup featured only four survivors. In Odegaard’s forced absence, Xhaka excelled as a motivator and at both ends of the pitch. Arsenal fans chanted his name repeatedly. The Swiss captain appeared to be on his way out of the club after previous manager Unai Emery stripped him of the armband following an altercation with supporters. “I think he feels now that that love and respect goes both ways,” Arteta added. I believe you can see our supporters singing to him as well. It makes him emotional, it makes him want to give even more, and I’m so happy for him because he fully deserves it.” His consistency is outstanding. How he goes about his day, what he’s learned over the years, whether it’s here or with the national team, and his willingness to stay humble, look forward, and try to get better, and when you do that, good things usually happen.” Saliba was one of Arteta’s many changes from last season. Before heading Arsenal ahead from a 17th-minute corner, the young France defender had already demonstrated that he would not be bullied by Brentford’s busy forwards Toney and Bryan Mbeumo. Former Brentford trainer Nico Jover, now Arsenal’s set piece coach, was the tactical mastermind behind the move. Since his arrival at the start of last season, Arsenal have scored the most Premier League goals from corners. Arsenal maintained their lead before adding a well-deserved second goal nine minutes later, following a spellbinding passing move. Man of the match Xhaka curled a cross into the box, and Jesus headed powerfully past David Raya. Brentford usually thrives in these games, so Arsenal’s dominance was surprising. Their only defeat in the previous 17 home league London derbies came in October last year, when they were defeated 1-0 by Chelsea. The best of Arsenal’s play and goals were yet to come, as Vieira scored his first Premier League goal in the 49th minute. The 22-year-old Porto recruit controlled a Bukayo Saka pass 25 yards out and found space and time to curl in a precise left foot shot that clattered in off a post. Brentford coach Thomas Frank, who denied reports linking him to potential offers from Brighton and Leicester City, appeared to be in awe of Arsenal’s transformation. “From what I’ve seen in their seven games, they’re title contenders.” I believe they’ve been very good, winning six games fairly and squarely, and the only game they lost could have gone either way at Manchester United.” Wow, look at Jesus up there! What a performer! Nothing against Manchester City, but it works better in a different setting. Saka and Odegaard are a year older. What a player Odegaard is! Then I must exclaim, ‘Saliba!’ He’ll be a full international player for France, I’m confident. He’ll be in the starting lineup for that team, which is a strong international squad.”
Raya 6, Hickey 5, Jansson 5, Ajer 5, Mee 6, Henry 7; Dasilva 7 (Damsgaard 63), Janelt 6 (Onyeka 63), Jensen 6 (Baptiste 69); Mbeumo 5, Toney 6. Strakosha, Wissa, Canos, Ghoddos, Roerslev are the substitutes.
ARSENAL: Ramsdale 6 (Tomiyasu 86), Saliba 8, Gabriel 7, Tierney 7 (Lokonga 78), Xhaka 9 (Marquinhos 90), Vieira 7 (Nwaneri 90), Martinelli 7 (Nketiah 78), Jesus 7. Turner, Holding, Sousa, and Smith are the substitutes.
Reference: David Coote 7.

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