Football: Late winner propels Arsenal to top of English Premier League with win over Brentford

Arsenal's Kai Havertz late winner has put his team to the top of the English Premier League in a 2-1 home win over Brentford, despite keeper Aaron Ramsdale's calamitous first-half error.

The win is the Gunners' eighth league victory in a row.

The hard-fought result 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 Monday (NZ time).

Kai Havertz celebrates scoring Arsenal's second goal.
Kai Havertz celebrates scoring Arsenal's second goal. Photo credit: Getty Images

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, after Ramsdale dawdled in his box and Yoane Wissa's sliding challenge sent an attempted clearance into the net.

Making his first league start since November in place of Brentford loanee David Raya, who was ineligible, the keeper 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.

Aaron Ramsdale of Arsenal is consoled by teammate Gabriel after his mistake leads to a goal.
Aaron Ramsdale of Arsenal is consoled by teammate Gabriel after his mistake leads to a goal. Photo credit: Getty Images

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, after playing a game more. 

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