Unai Emery's first taste of the English Football League Cup ended triumphantly as Arsenal took apart their in-form Championship opposition Brentford at the Emirates Stadium.
A first half double from Danny Welbeck looked to be the start of a long night for the Bees, however a brilliantly executed Alan Judge free kick changed the complexion of the tie, with Arsenal being forced to work hard for a victory that was eventually sealed by an Alexandre Lacazette strike right at the death.
A mostly barren Emirates Stadium witnessed a very engaging, end to end contest that showcased - at times - sumptuous football from both London sides. Emery's sixth successive win in all competitions started off with a Danny Welbeck header early on, and after Welbeck made it two before half time, Arsenal looked to be turning up a notch with their quality.
However, after withstanding an early second half barrage from the Gunners, Brentford started to test Arsenal and following a foul from Matteo Guendouzi, Judge stepped up to hammer a free kick in to net.
Both sides made changes that spiced the tie up further, and with Emery's phenomenal domestic trophy record in potential danger, his side stood up to the threat and produced a very professional performance in the end.
A mistake in the Brentford backline offered Lacazette a gift in the dying embers of the game, one that a striker in this vein of form would not turn down.
Check out our breakdown of the game below.
Key Talking Point
Arsenal's pressing from the front very impressive tonight. Iwobi, Welbeck and Smith Rowe constantly snapping at the heels of the Brentford defence.— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) September 26, 2018
Arsenal were as free flowing and as fascinating to watch as they have arguably ever been under Emery's tutelage. They made a well organised, energetic Brentford unit look like amateurs at various points throughout the game with their immense quality on the ball.
One moment will have especially pleased the Arsenal boss, as a breathtaking counter attacking team move led to the second Arsenal goal, with the ball effortlessly floating between Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Monreal and ultimately finished off by Danny Welbeck.
After the mistake from Guendouzi, and subsequent free kick from Judge, the experienced leaders in the team rose up and guided the team to a tireless but rewarding display.
The Arsenal manager's substitutions really helped the Gunners manage the tie, in particular the addition of Torreira gave an extra steel to a backline that were under siege.
The new era at the Emirates looks to be gaining momentum at a serious rate now, with Arsenal players fighting for the cause, almost in complete understanding that if they play how the manager wants, then the results will undoubtedly come.
Starting XI: Leno (7), Lichtsteiner (7), Mustafi (7), Holding (7), Monreal (6), Elneny (7), Guendouzi (7), Mkhitaryan (7), Iwobi (8), Smith-Rowe (7), Welbeck (8*).
Substitutes: Lacazette (7), Torreira (7), Ramsey (7).
Not a difficult call here as Danny Welbeck was the man to make the difference for the North London side, particularly in a first half in which he led the line superbly.
Welbeck, who won the League Cup with Manchester United over a decade ago, was committed and determined from second one and it paid dividends as he once again silenced his critics and produced a clinical and hardworking display.
The much maligned English forward has become the first Premier League player to score in three different competitions this season, which comes as a result of having to play second fiddle to Arsenal's two big name strikers in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
However with consistency becoming apparent for the 27-year-old, Emery may seek to use the former Manchester United academy graduate in a more permanent role in his starting XI, given what he can bring to the team, not just with his ability in front of goal.
A much more difficult call here because as mentioned previously, this performance from the Gunners was very assured and professional. However, with the captain's armband on tonight, the pressure may have rushed to Monreal's head on a few instances in Wednesday night's win over Brentford.
Monreal would constantly feel the need to moan about the most obvious decisions that went against his side, and was lucky not to be booked after his persistent altercations with referee Mike Dean.
Key Talking Point
Captain for the night Nico Yennaris led his team superbly well in arguably the toughest fixture the Bees will have this season. No travelling supporter will have gone home too upset with their side's performance on Wednesday night, as they gave their everything in trying to give Unai Emery his first domestic trophy loss since May 2016.
Brentford in recent years have had a nouse for finding academy graduates from top teams around the world and helping them hone their talents in the lower leagues. A philosophy that has paid great dividends for the Bees, with their plethora of young attacking talent leading some to believe this may be the year they make the leap to the Premier League.
Although they played some beautiful football, and were a credit to their manager and club with their display, at times they played straight into Arsenal's hands with the persistent passing from the back.
Fun game. Brentford opened us up at times, but I love that we blood talent in this cup. Lacazette on fire. Exciting times ahead with partnerships + understanding blossoming all over the place. Iwobi has matured, decision making greatly improved. Guendouzi a diamond in the rough! pic.twitter.com/W36aLsfJVh— Arsène's Son 🎈 (@hughwizzy) September 26, 2018
Dean Smith's team insisted on playing the Brentford way, with great intensity and fearlessness and for that they cannot be unhappy, as they offered neutrals a glimpse of what they are capable of, and maybe what they could see next season in the top division.
Starting XI: Daniels (5), Odubajo (6), Konsa (6), Jeanvier (6), Barbet (6), Yennaris (6), Mokotjo ( 6), Canos (7), Judge (7), Watkins (6), Sawyers (6).
Substitutes: Dalsgaard (6), Maupay (6), Benrahma (6).
Although given a close run for his money by Spaniard Sergi Canos who was causing problems all over the attacking third of the pitch, the star man on display for Brentford was Alan Judge.
With constant pressure from the Gunners, set pieces were going to be a key in getting at this Arsenal side and in Judge they had a weapon to utilise.
Not just for his exceptional free kick that dragged Brentford back into the contest, but his non-stop pressure on the backline and obvious ability on the ball made him a constant threat to the Gunners all night.
On numerous occasions, Brentford's inability to play the ball around fluidly stemmed from their goalkeeper's very lacklustre distribution. It wasn't Luke Daniels' night and as well as the three goals conceded, his performance didn't leave a lot to be desired for Brentford fans.
The 30-year-old Daniels on only his second appearance for the Bees, evidently struggled. He can be excused from his poor showing when taken into consideration that there will always be rust in someone who hasn't managed a consistent run of games, especially in between the sticks.
Unai Emery's men now have the stern test of Watford to come at the Emirates, a side who they have struggled to overcome in years gone by. Should they come out unscathed, the fixtures come thick and fast as Qarabag await in the Europa League.
Brentford will now look to concentrate on their promotion efforts in the Championship, with back to back home fixtures against Reading and Birmingham up next.