Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has used the international break to get his players some much-needed minutes after a chastening start to the Premier League season
Arsenal exacted a very small slice of revenge on Brentford, beating the Bees 4-0 in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Thursday.
Thomas Frank’s side stunned the Gunners on the opening day of the Premier League season, with goals from Sergi Canos and Christian Norgaard earning them three points.
That signalled a miserable start for Mikel Arteta’s side, one which has continued, losing all three league games without scoring.
But with a portion of his squad away on international duty, the Arsenal boss has used the break to continue fine-tuning his players away from the glare of supporters.
Goals from Gabriel, Alexandre Lacazette and a brace from Cedric Soares earned the Gunners a morale boosting victory at London Colney with a number of squad players making a point to their manager.
Here are the main talking points from the Arsenal win:
A change of shape
Mikel Arteta actually enjoyed his best spell in the Emirates dugout when he opted to play three at the back, with two wing-backs.
Since then, the Spaniard has tried to revert to a back four with very differing results.
But against Brentford, Arteta started Ben White alongside Gabriel and Pablo Mari, earning a clean sheet along the way.
White and Gabriel both played more than an hour and will now eye a return after the international break, which could see Arsenal stick with a back three.
Maitland-Niles gets his wish
Ainsley Maitland-Niles had his best spell as a wing-back in the old formation, but even when reverting back to that shape, the England international was still given a chance to impress in midfield.
For much of the summer it looked likely Maitland-Niles would leave the club, only for clear-the-air talks with Arteta to change his mind.
The 24-year-old is desperate to establish himself as a central midfielder and was given a start next to Mohamed Elneny.
With Granit Xhaka’s suspension and Thomas Partey’s injury, he could now retain his place for their Premier League return against Norwich in just over a week.
Another clean sheet for Ramsdale
Two games, two clean sheets for Aaron Ramsdale.
The summer signing was impressive on his debut at West Brom and was able to register another shutout on a quiet afternoon for the former Sheffield United keeper.
The clamour for him to replace Bernd Leno is yet to reach a fervour, but all he can do is continue to perform when given a chance.
Arteta has often spoken about the different qualities Ramsdale possesses, not conceding goals will be a very useful one to pick up.
Cedric steals the show
The Portuguese started as a left-wing back, with Calum Chambers unusually handed the role on the opposite flank.
And he impressed in that position, scoring two late goals, lobbing the keeper to open the scoring, before nodding in a second in the closing minutes.
Cedric has been linked with a move to Turkey, with their transfer window remaining open until September 8.
Reports claim the ex-Southampton man is determined to fight for his spot and performances like this will do his cause no harm.
With Thomas Partey injured and Xhaka testing positive for Covid-19, there is a chance Elneny could be used in the coming weeks.
Like Cedric, the midfielder has been linked with a move to the Turkish top-flight, but the dearth of options available could see him remain.
However, the fact he managed only 33 minutes could be a cause for concern.
It wasn’t confirmed whether Elneny picked up an injury, but with the rest of the starters playing more than an hour, it doesn’t look good.
Arsenal starting XI vs Brentford: Ramsdale; Chambers, White (Hutchinson 76), Mari, Gabriel (Holding 69), Cedric; Maitland-Niles, Elneny (Patino 33); Martinelli, Lacazette, Pepe.
Goals: Gabriel 46, Lacazette 60, Cedric 76, 89.