Arsenal closed the gap to fourth place to just one point as the Gunners secured back-to-back Premier League wins with a 2-1 victory over Brentford at the Emirates Stadium.
The North London side had the ball in the net after just 12 minutes courtesy of Alexandre Lacazette, but his tap-in finish from a few yards out was ruled out for offside in the buildup.
Mikel Arteta’s side continued to dominate possession as Brentford sat back, but the deadlock could not be broken as the teams went into half-time level.
However, Arsenal struck early in the second half, as Emile Smith Rowe scored a brilliant individual goal two minutes after the restart. The 21-year-old cut inside and curled the ball into the far corner after a fantastic run down the left-hand side.
Bukayo Saka sealed the win for Arsenal with ten minutes to play, as the youngster slotted the ball into the bottom corner with a neat finish following a clinical counter attack after Pontus Jansson was caught in possession for Brentford.
Christian Norgaard scored a late consolation for Brentford from inside the box in stoppage time, but it proved to be too little, too late for the away side.
TALKING POINT – SAKA AND SMITH ROWE SHINE AGAIN
Once again, Arsenal’s young English duo of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe shone at the Emirates Stadium to secure a crucial victory as the Gunners continue to close down the gap to Manchester United in fourth place.
For Smith Rowe, it was his first start since the 0-0 draw against Burnley on Jan 23, and the 21-year-old made the most of the opportunity by scoring a brilliant solo goal just three minutes into the second half.
The pair have incredibly mustered up a total of 22 goal involvements between them in the Premier League this season (16 goals, 6 assists) and that shows just how vital they are for this Arsenal side.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – BUKAYO SAKA
The 20-year-old once again showed that he is undroppable for Arsenal, as he turned in a performance of the highest quality this afternoon down the right-hand side.
Saka’s driving runs down the byline, crosses into the box for his team-mates and shots on goal made him a constant headache for Brentford to deal with.
In addition to scoring Arsenal’s second goal with a superb finish following a break-away, Saka had two other shots on target, made one key pass, and won two tackles sucessfully.
Arsenal: Ramsdale 6, Cedric 7, White 6, Gabriel 6, Tierney 6, Partey 7, Xhaka 7, Saka 8, Odegaard 7, Smith Rowe 7, Lacazette 7. Subs: Pepe 6, Nketiah 6.
Brentford: Raya 7, Ajer 7, Jansson 5, Pinnock 6, Henry 6, Norgaard 7, Dasilva 6, Canos 6, Wissa 6, Mbeumo 6. Subs: Ghoddos 6, Baptiste 6, Janelt 6.
12’ – NO GOAL! – Lacazette has the ball in the net after a good move by Arsenal, but it is ruled out for offside instantly by the fourth official! Saka plays the ball to Odegaard in the centre, and the Norwegian threads in an overlapping Tierney in the left half-space. He sends a low ground cross into the box for Lacazette, and the Arsenal striker taps the ball in, but it does not stand after being caught offside.
37’ – ANOTHER PENALTY SHOUT! – Another shout for a penalty that is not given for the Gunners! Cedric tries to arrow one into the bottom corner from the edge of the box by cutting across the ball with his left foot, and Wissa gets in the way to make the block. Replays show that the Brentford man used his elbow to clear the ball, but once again, Jon Moss and VAR Lee Mason do not think it is clear enough to award the penalty.
48’ – GOAL! (Emile Smith Rowe) – Arsenal lead! Smith Rowe gets the ball out wide on the left from Lacazette, and the youngster then does all the work himself. He drives down the byline, before cutting inside and his shot from within the area finds the bottom corner! That’s his tenth of the season!
79’ – GOAL! (Bukayo Saka) – Saka seals it for Arsenal with a great finish! Pontus Jansson is caught out in the middle of the pitch after advancing and Arsenal counter with three players versus two for Brentford. Partey threads in Saka on his left, and the winger makes no mistake, slotting the ball into the bottom corner with a great finish! Clinical from Arsenal.