Ivan Toney Brentford Arsenal TweetGetty & Twitter.com/ivantoney24

Ivan Toney, Arsenal and the tweet that had Arteta fuming

It’s been just over a year since Arsenal suffered a humbling 2-0 defeat at Brentford on the opening day of the 2021/22 season. It was a brutal evening in west London for Mikel Arteta’s side, who were widely mocked for the way they crumbled against a team making their Premier League debut.

There were of course mitigating circumstances, with a Covid outbreak having swept through the Arsenal squad in the days leading up to the game.

Star strikers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette were just two of the players who had to drop out at the last minute, with the rest of the squad confined to their hotel rooms hours before kick-off nervously waiting on a batch of test results.

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Arsenal desperately tried to get the game called off, but the Premier League refused their request - something that still angers everyone connected with the club to this day.

And the disrupted build-up led to a pitiful performance, with Brentford marking their debut appearance in the English top flight with a historic 2-0 success.

“Nice kick about with the boys,” Bees striker Ivan Toney tweeted in the aftermath.

It was a tweet which infuriated Arteta.

Sambi Lokonga Arsenal 2021

He kept his rage hidden, but his anger became clear for all to see when Amazon’s All or Nothing documentary was released earlier in the summer.

The fly on the wall series showed Arteta in the changing room at Emirates Stadium ahead of Arsenal’s return meeting with Brentford in February.

As he gave one last team talk to his players before sending them out for kick-off, he put a picture of Toney’s message up on the big screen.

Pointing to the tweet, he barked: “Before I go, because it’s still in my stomach and I have managed to keep it for four months, five months, six months.

“This is Toney after the game when we played at Brentford. You know what he did? You know his tweet? Nice kick about with the boys.

“So today they play in our house, guys there is only one team on that f***ing pitch – and it’s us! Only one team, it’s like they don’t play football. 

“We take that f***ing ball, we take the game, we go for it and let’s f***ing win this game!”

And win they did, with goals from Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka earning them a 2-1 success.

“Nice kick about with the boys,” a sarcastic Alexandre Lacazette tweeted soon after.

Mikel Arteta Arsenal

Toney, who has just been called up to the England squad for the first time following his impressive start to the current season, has always refused to discuss the fall-out to his cheeky social media jibe.

Even after Arteta’s response was shown on All or Nothing, he opted against discussing it when asked by reporters.

But it will certainly add a bit of spice to this Sunday’s game, which will see Arsenal return to the Brentford Community Stadium for the first time since their humbling defeat at the same ground 13 months ago.

That game on the opening day of last season is a dismal reminder of a time when Arsenal were approaching rock bottom.

They hit that two matches - and two defeats later - when they were smashed 5-0 at Manchester City and sat bottom of the table without a single point or goal from their opening three fixtures.

Since then it’s been a mainly upward journey under Arteta, albeit with the disappointing end to the last campaign when they were pipped to the final Champions League spot by Tottenham.

But they have started this season in impressive fashion, with the Spaniard’s new look side winning five of their opening six league games.

Of the starting XI that lined up to face Brentford in west London last time out, only four players - Ben White, Granit Xhaka, Kieran Tierney and Gabriel Martinelli - are expected to start on Sunday afternoon in west London.

Arsenal lineup Brentford August 2021

That shows how much the landscape has shifted at Arsenal during the past 12 months.

"Obviously the context has changed," Arteta said in the build-up to this weekend's game, when comparing where Arsenal are now compared to this time last season.

A win on Sunday would send Arsenal into the first international break of the season sitting top of the Premier League.

That would be in stark contrast to a year ago when they went into it bottom of the pile after those three bruising defeats on the spin.

They feel like they have a point to prove at Brentford and a victory will certainly banish some painful demons for Arteta’s side.

Toney and the rest of the country were laughing at them last time they were in west London. 

Arteta’s side will be out to ensure they get the last laugh this time around.