Late Havertz header puts Arsenal top with 2-1 Brentford win

LONDON: Arsenal's Kai Havertz scored a late winner to put his team top of the Premier League despite keeper Aaron Ramsdale's calamitous first-half error in a 2-1 home win over Brentford on Saturday, as the Gunners recorded an eighth league victory in a row.

The hard-fought win put Arsenal in provisional top spot on 64 points, one point ahead of Liverpool and two in front of Manchester City – who meet at Anfield on Sunday.

Declan Rice's glancing header from a Ben White cross gave Arsenal the lead after 19 minutes as the hosts dominated possession from the start at The Emirates.

The Bees levelled against the run of play just before halftime as Ramsdale dawdled in his box and Yoane Wissa's sliding challenge sent an attempted clearance into the net.

The keeper, making his first league start since November in place of Brentford loanee David Raya who was ineligible, made amends with two good saves, clawing Ivan Toney's long-range effort wide and tipping Nathan Collins' header over.

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta praised Ramsdale's performance after his error, hailing the England keeper's "huge personality and courage."

"An error is part of football, it is how to react to it (that matters)," he told reporters.

"Especially for the keepers, it is probably the most difficult position."

Arsenal pressed for the winner and Rice rattled the woodwork 15 minutes from time with a curling effort from outside the box that left keeper Mark Flekken stranded.

Havertz headed home in the 86th minute from another superb delivery by White to give Arsenal a deserved win, which means the Gunners will end the weekend in at least second spot and could stay top on goal difference if Liverpool and City draw.

Brentford remained 15th, five points above 18th-placed Luton Town and the relegation zone having played a game more.

The Bees' manager Thomas Frank felt his side were unfortunate to lose after a great defensive performance.

"That's tough, oof that's tough," he told reporters.

"I feel actually even more for the players. Unbelievable mentality, effort and determination."

Frank was especially frustrated that Havertz was the matchwinner after the German forward, on a yellow card, went down in the box in the 65th minute under minimal contact from Collins, which Frank said was a clear dive. --REUTERS

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