As the final whistle blew at Brentford on Sunday, Arsenal regained their place at the top of the Premier League heading into the international break.
But whilst this season is still very much in its fledgling stages, the Gunners’ 3-0 win already symbolises the transformation they’ve undergone led by Mikel Arteta over the last year.
While they could only watch rivals Tottenham soar, Arsenal now have bragging rights in north London.
And it was rather fitting it was the Bees Arsenal beat to go top.
Just over a year ago, the Gunners had endured a terrible start to their 2021/22 campaign.
Manager Arteta’s side had lost their three opening Premier League games, including their game against newly promoted Brentford on the opening day of the season.
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The Gunners had also failed to score a single goal at the time, and were rooted to the bottom of the table.
“Nice kick about with the boys,” Bees talisman Ivan Toney famously tweeted after his team’s shock 2-0 win, which the players and manager have been unable to get over since.
And despite the the embarrassment, a few weeks later Arsenal used Twitter to say they’d beaten Thomas Frank’s side 4-0 in a behind-closed doors friendly.
It went down like a led balloon.
“Shameless,” one fan wrote.
Whilst another said: “You couldn’t have just done that three weeks ago [in the Premier League?”
Fast forward 12 months and Arsenal now look a totally different side to the one that couldn’t buy a win last term and were ridiculed by Toney.
Back then, the north London side had been in a state of disarray.
Despite spending the most of any other Premier League club in the summer transfer window at £160million, Arsenal were being hit with problems from every angle.
As shown in Amazon Prime’s docuseries ‘Arsenal: All or Nothing’, the club’s fans began to protest before games, with ‘Kroenke Out’ – the club’s owner – plastered on banners held up by unhappy supporters outside the stadium.
After finishing eighth the season before, and the campaign prior to that, Gunners fans had seen enough, especially after the poor start to 2021/22.
However, following Arsenal’s win 1-0 win at home to Norwich City that appeared to stop the rot, Arteta began to orchestrate a transformation at the Emirates.
Their season faced many further peaks and troughs – namely in banishing and eventually letting go of club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and then just missing out on fourth place.
But last season and the subsequent transfer window set the path for what has been an incredible start to the season for Arsenal.
After letting go of Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, the Gunners recruited Premier League champions Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko from Manchester City.
Edu – Arsenal’s technical director – also brought in Fabio Vieira from Porto, as well as Matt Turner from New England Revolution.
Asked if they are title contenders, talkSPORT host Jason Cundy told the Sports Bar: “I think they are. They look good and some of the players that have come in, have slotted in seamlessly.
“They are all buying into Arteta and Arsenal fans should be very excited.”
And Frank, who has lost twice in succession to Arteta added: “They are building a team that’s young, very exciting, and that has key players in good positions. So he’s done a top job.
“He’s completed a transition from the former manager, he’s created his own culture, and he’s got rid of some players and brought in his own.”
What a difference a year makes.
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