Injuries to captain Martin Odegaard and Oleksandr Zinchenko had stretched Mikel Arteta’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.
As it happened: Brentford vs Arsenal
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.
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 for 45 minutes as Arsenal bounced back in style from their sole defeat of the season away to Manchester United two weeks ago.
🔴 @Arsenal return to the top of the table 🔴#BREARS https://t.co/gxaCQKJNxq
— Premier League (@premierleague) 1663505663000
Gabriel Martinelli should have opened the scoring within two minutes as he fluffed his shot from Granit Xhaka’s cut-back.
It took just 15 minutes more for Arsenal 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 another enticing delivery from Xhaka.
Saka was then wasteful with a glorious chance from Fabio Vieira’s through ball.
Aged 15 years and 181 days, Ethan Nwaneri becomes the youngest player in #PL history! 🤩#BREARS | @Arsenal https://t.co/7gepwExUaD
— Premier League (@premierleague) 1663505955000
The absence of Odegaard also handed Vieira his first Premier League start 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.
Brentford striker Ivan Toney had been handed his first England call-up in midweek but was kept well in check by the towering presence of Saliba.
The Bees will be hoping this was just an off day after an impressive start to the season and that Thomas Frank will still be in charge after the international break with the Dane linked as a potential successor to Brendan Rodgers at Leicester.
But 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.