Havertz ends goal drought to fire Arsenal into first place

Kai Havertz celebrates after scoring his team first goal during the English Premier League football match between Brentford and Arsenal at the Gtech Community Stadium in London on November 25, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

 

Kai Havertz sent Arsenal to the top of the Premier League as the German’s last-gasp goal clinched a hard-fought 1-0 win at Brentford on Saturday.

Havertz was a Champions League final hero for Chelsea in 2021, but he has endured a torrid time since crossing London to join Arsenal in the close-season.

The 24-year-old midfielder finally gave a glimpse of why Mikel Arteta splashed out £65 million ($80 million) to sign him when he headed home in the closing minutes.

Havertz’s second goal for Arsenal was his first in his last 10 appearances, moving his team one point clear of second-placed Manchester City, who were held to a 1-1 draw by third-placed Liverpool earlier in the day.

Arsenal’s third successive win in all competitions proved they have erased the bitter taste of their controversial VAR-aided defeat at Newcastle earlier in November.

Arteta’s men had already won at the Gtech Community Stadium in the League Cup in September and they left it late before making it another successful trip to west London.

With on-loan Arsenal keeper David Raya not eligible to play against his parent club, Aaron Ramsdale made his first league start since September 3.

Ramsdale’s father recently criticised Arteta’s handling of the Arsenal goalkeeping controversy, with the England international surprisingly losing his place to Raya despite recording the second-most Premier League clean sheets last season.

But Arteta’s faith in Raya received a boost when Ramsdale, his confidence clearly affected by his spell on the bench, almost gifted Brentford the lead with a horrendous mistake early in the first half.

Trying to play out from the six-yard box after Gabriel’s back pass, Ramsdale panicked under pressure from Yoane Wissa.

Havertz Has The Last Word
Ramsdale missed his kick and the ball rolled to Bryan Mbeumo, whose shot was cleared off the line by Declan Rice before Wissa stabbed the rebound wide.

Taunted by Brentford fans throughout the match, Ramsdale breathed a sigh of relief when Christian Norgaard fired just over from the edge of the area.

After a slow start from Arsenal, they finally showed signs of life when Trossard headed Oleksandr Zinchenko’s cross over before Gabriel nodded into the side-netting.

Arsenal forward Gabriel Jesus was making his first league appearance in a month after a muscle injury.

The Brazilian was involved when Arsenal thought they had taken the lead in the 42nd minute.

Jesus met Bukayo Saka’s cross with a header that was parried by Mark Flekken and Leandro Trossard nodded home from close-range.

But a VAR check decided Trossard was narrowly offside, giving Arteta another dose of frustration at the hands of the review system.

Martin Odegaard was narrowly wide from Saka’s cross soon after the interval, but Arsenal lacked rhythm for much of the second half.

Brentford nearly made Arsenal pay for their lethargy as Neal Maupay’s header was brilliantly cleared off the line by the stretching Zinchenko before the French forward poked the rebound wastefully wide.

That proved a crucial moment as Havertz came off the bench to win it in the 89th minute.

Saka’s cross picked out Havertz’s run to the far post and the German guided his header past Flekken as Arteta jumped for joy on the touchline.

AFP

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