Brentford celebrated their return to the top tier after a 74-year absence with a memorable, magnificent victory over woeful Arsenal as they opened their Premier League campaign in style.
Thomas Frank’s side were vibrant, skilful and energetic on a night of high emotion at the Brentford Community Stadium, making the perfect start to the season, but inflicting serious pain on the Gunners in a sobering 90 minutes for the visitors.
Brentford took to life in the big time with ease and fully deserved the lead given to them after 22 minutes when Sergi Canos drove low past keeper Bernd Leno at the near post, although Arsenal complained bitterly that the ball had gone out of play in the build-up.
Only Emile Smith Rowe truly rose above the mediocrity for Arsenal, forcing a save out of Brentford keeper David Raya – who also brilliantly denied Nicolas Pepe late on – before the home fans exploded in noise and elation when they scored a second with 17 minutes left.
Arsenal, without strike pair Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang through illness, paid the price for a hopeless attempt to defend substitute Mads Sorensen’s routine long throw. New £50m defender Ben White was particularly culpable as Christian Norgaard arrived to head home.
Brentford’s supporters, understandably, celebrated wildly at the final whistle, but this was a result and performance that instantly turns the spotlight on Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta as he desperately needs an improvement on last season.