NEWLY-promoted English Premier League side Brentford are confident that Super Eagles midfielder Frank Onyeka will be their joker in the pack when the team takes on London rivals Arsenal in its opening fixture tomorrow.
On July 20, Onyeka, 23, became Brentford’s first signing when he joined the club from Danish side Midtjylland for £9m. He has since been handed the number 15 jersey and Brentford will be looking to play him as a box-to-box midfielder tomorrow when they kick off their Premier League campaign, rather than in his traditional role as an anchorman who just sits in front of the back four.
Arsenal have the headache of missing three first team players including Thomas Partey, Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel and Brentford are planning to cash in on this. Brentford head coach Thomas Frank, believes that Onyeka could have a big say in the outcome of the match with his domineering midfield presence.
Mr Frank said: “Frank plays as a number eight in our system and he is very good at getting from box-to-box. He will be very valuable to us when we don’t have the ball and he is a very dynamic player.”
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta on the other hand, has a tonne of worries as apart from the fact that a total of four players set to miss out on the trip to west London with injury, another two have doubts concerning their future at the club. Arsenal strengthened its squad with three new signings, spending £50m on Ben White after securing Albert Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Tavares in the summer and will hoping for a much-improved start to the season this time around after experiencing a bad beginning during the 2020/21 campaign.
On the back of two successive eighth-place finishes in the league, Arsenal will go into the new campaign with no European football for the first time in 25 years. Missing Partey, however, does not bode well for Gunners in their opening fixture after the 27-year-old sustained damage to ligaments in his ankle and is not expected back in training until mid-September.
Lokonga is set to replace Partey for the Brentford game after starring in pre-season, with Granit Xhaka likely to line up alongside him. However, Brentford are confident that Onyeka will hold his own in midfield against the duo.