Arsenal endured a nightmare opening day of the Premier League season on Friday night as they slipped to a 2-0 defeat to newly-promoted Brentford.
Mikel Arteta’s side were bullied all over the pitch by the Bees, as goals from Sergi Canos and Christian Norgaard were enough to consign the Gunners to a humiliating loss.
While Pablo Mari at the heart of defence had a particularly difficult night, goalkeeper Bernd Leno must shoulder a large part of the blame for the result too.
Reports in recent weeks of course have suggested that the Gunners have been eyeing a move for Sheffield United’s Aaron Ramsdale as they look for competition for their number one, and on this evidence it’s imperative that they do something about the goalkeeping position sooner rather than later.
Leno looked all at sea with Brentford’s set-pieces, whether that was via corners or the Bees’ long throw-ins. One corner saw him rushing out of his goal only to completely flap at the ball and watch it narrowly miss going in at the far post.
The German was then beaten far too cheaply for Brentford’s second, being pinned in by Pontus Jansson – perhaps illegally – and failing to deal with it more commandingly.
Speaking after the second goal went in, Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher ripped into Arsenal’s defending, slamming: “How do you describe Arsenal there? It’s just Arsenal. Weak, bullied, men against boys again. New season, same old story: don’t win the first one, let it bounce, two Brentford players get out the way, 2-0.”
As per Sofascore, Leno lost 100% of his duels, while his distribution was shocking to say the least – he completed just 77% of his passes and didn’t have the confidence or even the ability to trust his feet when it came to beating Brentford’s press, instead choosing to go long rather frustratingly (12 long balls).
Writing in his player ratings for The Daily Mirror, Sam Elliott-Gibbs said: “Get Aaron Ramsdale on the phone. Beaten at his near post, didn’t dominate his box and then an almighty flap from a corner. Painful.”
Given that Arteta put out a mostly young, inexperienced team, he needed his more seasoned players to stand up and be counted in a deafening atmosphere in west London.
Instead, Leno once again raised questions of whether he is good enough to be Arsenal’s number one with a display which embarrassed himself, his manager and his club.