Only now has it been confirmed that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette’s ‘illnesses’ last week were in fact COVID-19, as the two strikers were ruled out on the morning of the Brentford game before Mikel Arteta’s side were taught a footballing lesson by the newbies.
Sergi Canos rifled in the first goal of the Premier League season and Brentford’s first in the competition in the 22nd minute, and as Arsenal’s futile attempts to claw their way back into the game failed to bear fruit, Christian Norgaard bullied his way through the Arsenal defence to propel the Bees to a historic win.
Many believed that a campaign without European football would only benefit Arsenal domestically, but the Gunners – albeit one depleted by injuries and illnesses – kicked off the season in the manner that Gooners feared following an equally woeful pre-season period.
However, as disgruntled supporters prepare to make their return to the Emirates, Arsenal can take some solace in the fact that they claimed back-to-back wins in their final two home games last term, although they were against Brighton & Hove Albion and West Bromwich Albion.
Having had 22 shots without finding the back of the net against Brentford, the potential absences of Aubameyang and Lacazette are well and truly felt in the Emirates ranks, and worryingly, five of Arsenal’s last 10 opening home games have ended in defeat.
While their London counterparts were being humbled, Chelsea simply cruised to three points in a capital derby of their own, striking three times without reply against Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace in front of the Stamford Bridge faithful.
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Marcos Alonso’s free kick represented a stellar way to open the Blues’ account for the new season, and the Blues would add to their tally through Christian Pulisic’s tap-in and Trevoh Chalobah’s long-range effort – some way to score your first goal for the European champions.
Keeping the momentum going from their enthralling yet draining victory over Villarreal in the Super Cup, Chelsea have already risen to second in the fledgling standings, but the Champions League holders will undoubtedly have their eyes set on wrestling the crown off of Manchester City’s hands.
Chelsea fans need no reminding that their final away game last season ended in a dampening 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa, but they had witnessed their side win six and draw two of their previous eight on the road before that and have not lost to Arsenal on a Sunday since the 2008-09 season.