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Player ratings as Gunners return to Premier League summit

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From Gtech Community Stadium – Arsenal will head into the September international break as Premier League leaders after a comfortable 3-0 win at Brentford.

The Gunners picked up a hard-earned three points in the absence of injured club captain Martin Odegaard and were dominant in a fixture they looked toothless in last season.

Arsenal carved Brentford open during the opening two minutes with Gabriel Martinelli playing a neat one-two with Granit Xhaka through the Bees’ backline, but the Brazilian’s shot was blocked by a sprawling Ben Mee and the ball rolled safely to David Raya.

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The hosts began growing into the game largely through the pacy Rico Henry, who had a couple of searching crosses claimed by Aaron Ramsdale.

But the visitors took the lead after 17 minutes when William Saliba’s header from a Bukayo Saka corner looped in off the post.

Arsenal doubled their advantage just before the half-hour mark when a floated cross from Xhaka was headed into the top corner by Gabriel Jesus.

Saka skied a chance for a third shortly after when Pontus Jansson was robbed of possession, with the winger firing over from just inside the penalty area.

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Just after half-time, Fabio Vieira scored his first Arsenal goal with a wonderful strike from 20 yards, ricocheting in off the inside of the post and all bu securing the three points.

Ivan Toney, who at this point had been nullified, fired a rehearsed free-kick routine over, with his arcing half-volley landing on top of Aaron Ramsdale’s net.

David Raya denied Arsenal their fourth, keeping Jesus out with his feet from close quarters, while he produced a stretching save to keep Saka out.

Substitute Mikkel Damsgaard then brought Ramsdale into a sprawling save after racing onto a through ball in the penalty area, and Brentford thought they had a penalty when Toney was brought down in the box, only for the linesman to raise his flag for offside.

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Mikel Arteta threw on 15-year-old Ethan Nwaneri in stoppage time as he became the youngest player in Premier League history by a considerable distance and Arsenal strolled to the three points.

Ivan Toney

Toney was quiet / Richard Heathcote/GettyImages

GK: David Raya – 5/10 – Didn’t get anywhere near any of Arsenal’s goals. Kicking was a bit off for someone of his abilities.

CB: Kristoffer Ajer – 4/10 – Looked understandable timid on his return from injury.

CB: Pontus Jansson (c) – 3/10 – Beaten far too easily by Jesus for Arsenal’s second. One of his worst games in month.

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CB: Ben Mee – 5/10 – Made several tackles, blocks and clearances but his efforts were futile in the end.

RM: Aaron Hickey – 5/10 – Slowed Martinelli down but didn’t have a meaningful impact going forward.

CM: Josh Dasilva – 5/10 – Had some joy dancing through the Arsenal midfield, but not a lot of it.

CM: Vitaly Janelt – 4/10 – For all of Janelt’s strengths, he just isn’t the imperious Christian Norgaard.

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CM: Mathias Jensen – 4/10 – Sloppy on the ball and his passing was often wayward.

LM: Rico Henry – 5/10 – Brentford’s busiest outlet at both ends, leading attacks and trying to pin down Saka.

CF: Bryan Mbeumo – 4/10 – Would it shock you to learn that he didn’t have much luck beating Gabriel in the air?

CF: Ivan Toney – 4/10 – Completely shut down by Saliba.

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Manager: Thomas Frank – 4/10 – Brentford’s game plan failed in all areas.

SUB: Frank Onyeka (63′ for Janelt) – 5/10

SUB: Mikkel Damsgaard (63′ for Dasilva) – 6/10

SUB: Shandon Baptiste (69′ for Jensen) – 5/10

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SUB: Yoane Wissa (76′ for Mbeumo) – 5/10

Fabio Viera

A good day for Arsenal / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

GK: Aaron Ramsdale – 6/10 – Didn’t have a lot to do and he didn’t need to pick the lock in possession.

RB: Ben White – 6/10 – Found it hard to keep up with Henry at times but this wasn’t an awful performance by any means.

CB: William Saliba – 9/10 – Grabbed a goal at one end, a clean sheet at the other and kept quiet the man of the moment in Toney.

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CB: Gabriel – 7/10 – Not always look happy in his duels with Mbeumo (particularly after straining his calf pre-match) but he got the job done.

LB: Kieran Tierney – 6/10 – A largely quiet afternoon up against his compatriot Hickey.

CM: Thomas Partey – 6/10 – Successful at keeping it simple, not so much when expanding his game.

CM: Granit Xhaka (c) – 9/10 – Battled his way through midfield and led by example.

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RM: Bukayo Saka – 7/10 – Worked tirelessly off the ball and while he grabbed an assist from a corner, didn’t offer too much in open play.

AM: Fabio Vieira – 7/10 – A testing first half showed Vieira’s youthful deficiencies, but he responded brilliantly after the break with a cracking goal.

LM: Gabriel Martinelli – 6/10 – Similar to Saka in that his off-ball contributions were more meaningful than those on it.

CF: Gabriel Jesus – 8/10 – Wasn’t as busy as he has been this season but still led the line well.

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Manager: Mikel Arteta – 8/10 – Arsenal’s defensive structure was crucial to their display. Arteta said he had plans to minimise Brentford’s chaotic threats and it showed.

SUB: Albert Sambi Lokonga (78′ for Partey) – 5/10

SUB: Eddie Nketiah (78′ for Martinelli) – 5/10

SUB: Takehiro Tomiyasu (86′ for White) – N/A

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SUB: Marquinhos (90′ for Saka) – N/A

SUB: Ethan Nwaneri (90′ for Vieira) – ‘He’s got school in the morning’ chanted the jubilant Arsenal fans.

Player of the Match – William Saliba



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Rob Page says Wales ‘will be in contact’ with LAFC regarding Gareth Bale’s World Cup fitness

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Wales boss Rob Page has revealed he’ll remain in close contact with LAFC regarding Gareth Bale’s fitness as the World Cup approaches.

Bale played the full 90 minutes as Wales lost 1-0 against Poland on Sunday in a result that confirmed their relegation from their UEFA Nations League group.

However, that’s the first time the 33-year-old has managed a full game at any level since March of this year, while he hasn’t gone 90 at club level since a La Liga match against Getafe for Real Madrid in April 2020.

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Wales’ next game is their World Cup Group B opener against the United States on November 21. Before then, it’s vital Bale plays as many minutes as possible in the MLS regular season and Playoffs for LAFC.

“They want Gareth available for them and we want him in the physical position for the first [World Cup] game against the USA. We will be in contact with them and make sure he is in the right place,” Page said of Bale’s situation at LAFC, where only two of the forward’s 11 appearances have been from the start.

“What he does from now until the first game, we will be in contact with the club and help manage those minutes. They are a good outfit, LA, so they will know exactly how to get him from where he is now to full fitness, which is 90 minutes week in, week out.”

LAFC are level on 64 points with the Philadelphia Union at the top of the overall MLS standings. The Black and Gold have just two more regular season games remaining – away to the Portland Timbers and at home against Nashville SC – before they begin their Playoffs run.

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Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels now. Subscribe to our new US YouTube channel.



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WSL team of the week: gameweek 2

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Attendance records were sent tumbling during gameweek two of the WSL, with the north London and Merseyside derby both attracting five-figure crowds at the Emirates and Anfield.

On the pitch, Arsenal and Everton both got the better of their local rivals, while there was a first win of the season for Chelsea.

But which players stood out in particular? Here’s 90min’s WSL team of the week for gameweek two.

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Hannah Blundell

Blundell was on the score sheet for United / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

GK: Megan Walsh (Brighton) – Helped Brighton to their first three points of the season by keeping Reading at bay with a number of fine saves. Her reaction stop to tip away a Lauren Wade header in the second half was arguably the pick of the bunch.

RB: Ona Batlle (Manchester United) – Carried on from where she left off last week with another terrific display. A constant threat going forward, grazed the bar in the first half and set up United’s second with a clever cut back from the byline.

CB: Katrina Veje (Everton) – An energetic, all action display. Set up Everton’s first with a teasing corner delivery, acted as a real creative outlet for her side despite operating as a left centre back in a back three, and helped preserve a clean sheet as Everton recorded a famous Merseyside derby victory.

CB: Rafaelle (Arsenal) – Effortlessly cool with the ball at her feet when under pressure deep in her own half, helping Arsenal bypass the Tottenham press. On the score sheet with a towering header, rising above two Tottenham defenders to power home.

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LB: Hannah Blundell (Manchester United) – On the score sheet with her first goal for Manchester United – and first WSL goal since the 2018/19 season, calmly slotting home from the edge of the area.

Vivianne Miedema

Miedema was on target for Arsenal / Clive Rose/GettyImages

CM: Nathalie Bjorn (Everton) – Grabbed the assist for Everton’s second, winning a loose ball back herself in the middle of the park before sending Park scampering away with a terrific pass over the top. Worked hard and broke up play impressively throughout.

CM: Kim Little (Arsenal) – Another massive performance from the Arsenal captain. As ever efficient in possession and so good in tight spaces, but did so much important defensive work for the Gunners, breaking up play and wrestling back possession on numerous occasions.

CAM: Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal) – Opened her account for the season with a north London derby brace – the first a typically cool finish, the second a deft header. Combined well with the Arsenal front three and continues to make the number 10 role her own.

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Jess Park

Park opened her Everton account at Anfield / Charlotte Tattersall/GettyImages

FW: Jess Park (Everton) – An electric first WSL start for Everton from Park. Demonstrated her pace and skill to burst beyond the Liverpool backline and cooly round Rachel Laws for her side’s second, before intelligently picking out Hanna Bennison for Everton’s third. The makings of a perfect loan move for both parties.

FW: Caitlin Foord (Arsenal) – Voted player of the match on a historic day at the Emirates. Ran the channels, linked play and didn’t give the Spurs backline a moment’s respite. Set up Arsenal’s second by winning the ball off Evelina Summanen deep in the Spurs half and playing in Miedema.

FW: Lauren James (Chelsea) – Oozed class from start to finish. Frequent flashes of genius with her flicks and quick feet, and caused the Manchester City backline all sorts of problems with her directness and driving runs.



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Federico Bernardeschi reveals why he switched Juventus for Toronto FC & MLS

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Federico Bernardeschi has revealed he had multiple offers after leaving Juventus, but the ambition of Toronto FC and Major League Soccer played a key role in his move across the Atlantic.

The 28-year-old Italy international was one of a number of eye-catching additions for TFC this summer alongside compatriots Lorenzo Insigne – who agreed a contract earlier in the year – and Domenico Criscito.

Speaking to TLN, Bernardeschi has revealed he turned down other offers from ‘important’ clubs to move to Toronto.

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“I believe that I finished a journey at Juventus. There were various teams we spoke to, and various teams that came forward,” he said.

“They’re important names and I thank them, but there were little things that didn’t work out one way or another. With Toronto, everything went smoothly.”

Though TFC have continued to struggle, Bernardeschi has made an excellent start in MLS, scoring eight goals and assisting another two in his first 11 appearances.

That’s given the forward plenty of time to evaluate the quality of the league, and Bernardeschi has certainly been impressed by MLS so far.

“I think MLS has a great future, I think they have very big projects, not only here in Toronto as they’re showing, but for the entire league,” he said.

“This is good for all football worldwide but especially for football and sport in North America. It is beautiful to see and for sure it’s beautiful to be a part of.”

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Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels now. Subscribe to our new US YouTube channel.





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