Arsenal 1 Brentford 1: Gunners suffer another huge blow in title race as Ivan Toney cancels out Leandro Trossard goal | The Sun

Arsenal 1 Brentford 1: Gunners suffer another huge blow in title race as Ivan Toney cancels out Leandro Trossard goal | The Sun

February 11, 2023

IVAN TONEY reprised his role as pantomime villain to throw the title race wide open.

Now that Troy Deeney is no longer plying his trade in the Premier League, Toney has emerged as the player Arsenal fans hate more than any other.

They have never forgiven the Brentford striker for his "nice kickabout with the boys" social media post after Arsenal had been battered into submission on the opening day of last season.

And now they have even more reason to dislike the controversial centre-forward after his 74th minute equaliser handed Manchester City the opportunity to cut Arsenal’s lead at the top of the table to just three points.

And with Pep Guardiola’s Champions due at the Emirates on Wednesday night, Arsenal’s sudden loss of form could not have come at a worse time for boss Mikel Arteta.

The table topping Gunners thought they had done enough to keep themselves on track when Leandro Trossard climbed off the bench to fire them into a 67th minute lead.

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But that lead only lasted for seven minutes before a game of head tennis in Aaron Ramsdale’s six-yard box ended with Toney nodding in from close range.

It means Arsenal have failed to win any of their last three games and are suddenly starting to look as though they might be running out of steam.

Arteta has selected the same team so many times this season that he must be able to do it with his eyes closed  by now.

Seven of his players have started every Premier League game this season and skipper Martin Odegaard has only missed one.

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But that predictably could be making it easier for opponents to plan ways of stopping them in their tracks.

Only last week lowly Everton had doubled up on Arsenal’s wingers, flooded the midfield and targeted Arsenal on the counter and with high balls into their box.

And now Arteta must be wondering if it is time to make some changes after seeing his team left frustrated by the same tactics yesterday.

Not that Bees boss Thomas Frank was making any apologies after watching his team extend their unbeaten run to ten games and ruining Arsenal’s hopes of winning an eighth successive London derby match this season.

In fact Arsenal are the only one of the traditional Big Six to actually beat Brentford this season, a fact which was highlighted by Arteta to his players ahead of this game.

For Frank’s team have a well deserved reputation as masters of the art of disrupting the established order and are now dreaming of European qualification for the first time in their history.

And if Arsenal needed any reminder of the threat posed to their own lofty ambitions, it arrived as early as the fifth minute when Toney fired a delicious cross into the danger zone for Rico Henry to fire wide.

Arteta was hoping that the days of his team being regarded as a soft touch were well and truly behind them despite last week’s shock defeat at Everton.

Toney, though, had other ideas and should have fired his team into a 25th minute lead after muscling his way through Thomas Partey’s half-hearted challenge on the edge of the area.

But with the goal at his mercy following a sharp exchange of passes with Bryan Mbeumo, he struck his shot against the bar when he probably should have scored.

Another glorious opportunity went begging when Ben Mee’s close range header struck team-mate Kristoffer Ajer from a 30th minute corner before Toney stung the palms of Ramsdale with a sharp shot on the turn.

Arsenal, despite totally dominating the possession, were struggling to mount any sustained threat to the Brentford goal.

Bukayo Saka got a shot off under pressure from Henry which hit keeper David Raya square in the chest and Gabriel Martinelli volleyed just over from Granit Xhaka’s lay-off just before the break.

But it was the visitors who would have been the happier with their first-half’s work as the first murmurs of dissent rumbled around the ground.

It was clear that Arsenal were going to have to up their intensity if they were going to break a Brentford defence which had dug in ready to withstand any goalmouth siege.

But it was only when Trossard replaced the flagging Martinelli in the 61st minute that they looked capable of taking the victory they so desperately wanted.

The Belgian international had only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes when he stole in unattended at the back post to convert Saka’s inviting ball across the face of goal.

It was his first goal since last month’s £27million move from Brighton and one which briefly promised to be worth its weight in gold.

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But Brentford simply refused to accept their fate and the more Arsenal were pushed back into their own area, the less convincing they looked.

So it was almost inevitable when Toney stuck in the knife before celebrating by holding up a shirt with the message "we are all with you Sergi" for team-mate Sergi Canos, whose mother recently passed away.

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