Mikel Arteta was "surprised" the Premier League gave Arsenal's opening game against Brentford the go-ahead after several of his squad tested positive for coronavirus prior to the fixture.

The Gunners, who lost the game 2-0 last Friday, were without strikers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexndre Lacazette in addition to playmaker Willian and back-up goalkeeper Alex Runarsson, all of whom were self-isolating.

Lacazette and Runarsson will again be missing for Arsenal's clash against Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on Sunday, although Aubameyang has returned to training while Willian is being assessed.

The Premier League does not have specific thresholds for a number of coronavirus cases to force a fixture postponement, but Aston Villa rearranged matches last season after their squad was hit by a significant number of cases. 

"I was surprised but the regulations or the regulators decided the best thing to do was play the game," Arsenal head coach Arteta said.

“What we did is what we had to do, through the club, through the club doctor as well. He explained the situation, how it developed and the risk that we considered.

"We had an incredible 48 hours before the match which created a big uncertainty. It was probably an unprecedented Arsenal line-up."

Arteta said most his players have now been jabbed against COVID-19 but indicated it was not mandatory for the players.

"Most of them are double vaccinated. Others they have one vaccine," he added.

"We are trying to encourage them to get vaccinated because they are going to protect themselves, their families, obviously the environment around the club."

Mikel Arteta was left concerned by Arsenal's lack of a cutting edge after they started the new Premier League season with a disappointing 2-0 defeat away at Brentford.

The Gunners had 22 shots but managed to get just four on target on Friday, though their cause was not aided by the absences of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette due to illness.

Folarin Balogun was handed a first league start but was substituted after 59 minutes, by which time Arsenal were already behind following Sergi Canos' first-half opener.

Worryingly, Arteta saw his team then concede a second from a long throw, Christian Norgaard heading in to seal a famous result for Brentford. In contrast, Arsenal have much to work on ahead of a home game against Chelsea next.

"It's very different to how we wanted to start the season," Arteta told Sky Sports.

"We didn’t start well in the first half. We conceded a goal in an isolated action, we didn't cope well enough with the long ball for the second goal.

"We conceded the second one from a long throw, then the biggest worry was the threat we had in front of goal, how many times we arrived in great situations but not enough threat, not enough shots on target.

"If you don't do those things in the Premier League, it is going to be difficult to win.

He added: "We weren't good enough to beat them. To do that, you need to do certain basics right and we didn't.

"In the box, we need more threat, as much as possible. When we get in these positions, we must be more ruthless."

Arteta felt goalkeeper Bernd Leno was held during the long-throw situation that led to Brentford's second.

The Spaniard said: "They put somebody on the keeper, they can hold him and it's no free-kick. The keeper cannot move, the ball lands and then it's a goal. That is allowed in the Premier League."

In contrast, Brentford boss Thomas Frank was able to take great delight in an unforgettable occasion for a club he jokingly described as "just a bus stop in Hounslow" in reference to a fan chant.

"The fans were amazing, what an atmosphere," said Frank. "First time in the top flight, opening the Premier League season, we are number one in the table, it’s a fantastic story.

"We're just a bus stop in Hounslow – we're not supposed to be here!"

Brentford's second goal came from an area Frank hoped they could exploit against Arsenal, who had handed a debut to new signing Ben White at centre-back.

"On set-pieces we thought we were better, that's why we did the long throws," he said. "We also thought there was a chance we could get high, that we could win the ball and create chances.

"I think today the players deserve the praise and to celebrate a bit. It's been a hard pre-season, you can see that they were fit and could run."

Brentford enjoyed a winning start to life in the Premier League as goals from Sergi Canos and Christian Norgaard downed Arsenal 2-0 on the opening night of the new season.

The Bees finally secured top-flight status via the Championship play-offs at the end of last term and, just as boss Thomas Frank had promised, did not change their style to cope with the step up.

Canos' opener came midway through a first half when the hosts pressed and passed impressively, much to the delight of a raucous home crowd making the most of the chance to watch their team again inside the Community Stadium.

In contrast, this was a nightmare for Mikel Arteta on Friday the 13th. The absences of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette – both through illness – did not help, but new recruit Ben White was part of a defence that conceded a second via a long throw.

Arsenal had 66.5 per cent possession over the opening 15 minutes but their early dominance dissipated as the contest wore on, the visitors at times penned in by their relentless opponents.

Having already hit the outside of the post from a tight angle, Bryan Mbeumo failed to show the required composure after excellent footwork created another opportunity before the break, scuffing his shot wide of the target.

However, Brentford did get the goal their positive approach merited thanks to Canos, who cut in off his team's left flank to fire through Calum Chambers' legs and beat Bernd Leno at the near post.

The ever-lively Emile Smith-Rowe was denied by goalkeeper David Raya as Arsenal improved after the break, though any hopes of a comeback were dashed as a worryingly soft centre was exposed at a set-piece situation.

Mads Bech Sorensen's throw-in delivery evaded several Gunners at the front post and bounced through to Norgaard, who showed the determination lacking from Arsenal's defenders to nod in and seal a debut win.

 

The Premier League is back! 

Arsenal travel to newly promoted Brentford in the opening game of the 2021-22 campaign on Friday.

Champions Manchester City face Tottenham – and possibly top transfer target Harry Kane – on Sunday, with Liverpool in action against returning Norwich City on Saturday, after Manchester United have hosted Leeds United.

So, ahead of the new season, why not give this Opta-powered quiz a go? You can find the answers at the bottom of the page...

1. Arsenal begin against Brentford – it is the fourth time the Gunners have been involved in the opening game of a Premier League campaign, winning the other three in 2008-09, 2017-18 and 2020-21, but who did they play against in those matches? 

2. Over the last 10 Premier League matches of 2020-21, Leeds claimed 23 points, winning seven games and drawing twice. Can you name the only  club to collect more points across the same time span?

3. Liverpool are unbeaten in their five Premier League openers under Jurgen Klopp, but how many goals have the Reds scored across these matches?

4. Aston Villa begin life without Jack Grealish with a trip to Watford. Emiliano Buendia will wear the number 10 shirt, but how many goals did he assist for Norwich in the Championship last season?

5. Sunday's meeting between Spurs and City brings up Nuno Espirito Santo's first competitive game as Tottenham boss. Who was the club's last manager to lose his opening fixture in charge?

 

Answers:

1. West Brom, Leicester City, Fulham
2. Liverpool (26)
3. 19 
4. 16
5. Andre Villas-Boas 

Newly-promoted Premier League side Brentford have confirmed the signing of centre-back Kristoffer Ajer from Celtic.

The Norway international has penned a five-year deal with the Bees for what is reported to be a club-record fee of £13.5million.

Ajer has spent the past five seasons as a Celtic player, which includes half a season on loan with Kilmarnock in 2016-17, and has also previously played for IK Start in Norway's Eliteserien.

He featured 177 times for Celtic in all competitions and was a key part of the club's run of 12 successive trophies in four seasons before their spell of dominance was ended in 2020-21.

A statement on the Scottish club's official website on Wednesday read: "Everyone at Celtic Football Club wish Kristoffer every success in his future career down south and thank him for his role in the club's success in recent years."

Ajer is Brentford's second signing since earning a first promotion to the Premier League in May with victory over Swansea City in the play-off final, with Frank Onyeka joining earlier this week from sister club FC Midtjylland.

Brentford head coach Thomas Frank told his side's official website: "We wanted to get another central defender in, and Kris was our first choice. We think he fits the position specific profile perfectly, especially on the ball.

"Kris is very composed and can find the right passes between the lines. His level when bringing the ball forward is very high. 

"As a defender he has the physicality that you need, and he won his duels when he played in the Scottish league. He can help us in both boxes, with his strength in the air.

"He is a player at a good age, and we think he come straight in and be ready to perform in the Premier League. 

"But he also fits the way we want to recruit players and work with them. He can develop as a player and both Brentford FC and Kris can move to a higher level in the coming years."

Real Madrid's desire to sign a new forward is not a secret.

The Spanish giants missed out on silverware in 2020-21, much to their dismay.

Carlo Ancelotti has replaced Zinedine Zidane as head coach with big expectations.

 

TOP STORY - MADRID TARGET SALAH IF MBAPPE FAILS

Ancelotti has told Real Madrid president Florentino Perez he wants to sign Liverpool's Mohamed Salah , reports Fichajes.

The Italian believes Los Blancos needs another forward, with Salah seen as his back-up plan if they fail to land Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe.

Madrid's financial situation is complicated, with the club not making any major signings in 2020-21 amid the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, but they appear determined to land a major forward this off-season.

 

ROUND-UP

- 90min reports that Manchester United's Jesse Lingard has emerged as a target for Spanish champions Atletico Madrid, having caught Diego Simeone's eye during his loan spell at West Ham United.

- Chelsea have shopped around striker Tammy Abraham and Arsenal are interested, according to The Telegraph.

- The Athletic believes Tottenham may make a move for Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini, although he has a £26m (€30m) release clause.

-  Poor relations between Spurs and Southampton, stemming from 2020's Pierre-Emile Hjobjerg deal, may scupper a proposed move for Danny Ings, according to Standard Sport.

- Newly promoted Brentford are set to splash a club record transfer fee of £13.5m to land Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer, claims The Telegraph.

Lionel Messi lifted the Copa America on Saturday in Brazil.

But back in Europe, rumours continue to swirl about his future.

The 34-year-old forward is out of contract though the latest development suggests a resolution is in sight.

 

TOP STORY - NEW BARCELONA DEAL LOOMS FOR MESSI

AS reports that LaLiga have authorized Barcelona to register Lionel Messi despite the club's financial concerns.

Messi became a free agent last week with Barcelona working on a new deal, pending their financial constraints having been impacted heavily by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paris Saint-Germain had been linked with a swoop for Messi but the approval of the authorities to register Messi is a strong indication he will stay.

 

ROUND-UP

- Highly sought-after Saul Niguez is being considered in a swap deal between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, which would include Antoine Griezmann, claims Football Espana. Liverpool were linked with Niguez earlier this week.

- Chelsea have joined the race for Rennes teenage talent Eduardo Camavinga, alongside Manchester United, Arsenal and Real Madrid, according to Le Parisien.

- Manchester United are ready to spend £17m to sign Napoli's right-back Giovanni di Lorenzo following the Euro 2020 final, reports Il Napolista.

- Fabrizio Romano reports that veteran Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini will sign a new one-year extension with Juventus after the completion of Euro 2020.

- Newly promoted Watford are keen on Udinese's Danish star Jens Stryger Larsen after he impressed during Euro 2020, reports 90min.

- Newly promoted Brentford are preparing a £10m bid for Liverpool's Harry Wilson claims The Sun.

The Premier League fixture release for the 2021-22 has thrown up some intriguing opening-day clashes.

Champions Manchester City head to Tottenham, with the future of Harry Kane and speculation over which club he might be representing by August 14 still up in the air.

Arsenal are at newly promoted Brentford, while there is a familiar feel to Liverpool travelling to Championship winners Norwich City.

Manchester United v Leeds United is very much in the conversation when it comes to what might be the pick of the initial games, while Chelsea's quest to add domestic dominance to European glory begins against Crystal Palace.

Here, with help from Opta, Stats Perform looks at some of the landmark numbers thrown up by the big kick-off and who might be gunning for a piece of history this time around.

Chelsea to soar against the Eagles?

Still without a manager and facing a close season of extensive squad turnover, Palace certainly have a daunting assignment in prospect at Stamford Bridge against Thomas Tuchel's Champions League winners.

Chelsea boast the biggest opening-day win in Premier League history, a 6-0 thrashing of West Brom in August 2010.

That result replaced the previous most emphatic triumph by Liverpool, who won 6-1 away from home back in 1994. Their opponents? Crystal Palace.

Klopp and Salah send out another welcome party

For a third consecutive season, Liverpool will face a promoted team in their first match of the campaign, having thumped Norwich 4-1 at Anfield in 2019-20 before sharing a 4-3 thriller with Leeds last time around.

Mohamed Salah fired a hat-trick against Marcelo Bielsa's men – the ninth opening-day treble in the competition – and was also on target versus the Canaries.

Salah's six goals on the first weekend place him joint third in the Premier League's all-time standings, level with Leicester City's Jamie Vardy. Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney and Alan Shearer (eight) have more matchday one goals than any other player.

Rooney's five assists leave him out in front on 13 goal involvements, ahead of Shearer and Teddy Sheringham (10).

More capital punishment from Sterling?

Alongside Salah, Raheem Sterling is the only other active Premier League star to have an opening-day hat-trick to his name, having claimed the matchball in Manchester City's 5-0 win at West Ham in 2019.

Overall, the England winger has five goals and two assists on matchday one, and Pep Guardiola's side will be looking to continue a habit of making flying starts.

City have won all of their opening day fixtures in Guardiola's previous five seasons in charge. Indeed, they have won each of their past 10 games on the opening weekend, dating back to a 4-0 triumph over newly promoted Swansea City in 2011.

However, the last time they failed to take an initial three points was in a 0-0 draw at Spurs in 2010. Additionally, in three visits to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in all competitions since its 2019 opening, City have suffered three defeats and failed to score a goal.

Gunners must keep cool to avoid Bees sting

History is to repeat itself on a historic day for Brentford. Arsenal's visit will be their first top-flight game for 74 years, since a 1-0 defeat to the Gunners in May 1947.

Thomas Frank might be able to count on ill-discipline afflicting Mikel Arteta's side if Arsenal's previous efforts are anything to go by.

No team in Premier League history has collected as many as the north London club's six opening-day red cards, one more than Charlton Athletic – a fairly remarkable return given the Addicks were relegated in 2007 and are yet to return.

Jamaica international and Swansea City forward, Jamal Lowe, has admitted that missing out on promotion to the English Premier League (EPL) was a major heartbreak, following a tough loss to Brentford on Saturday.

Swansea were in the automatic promotion spots for most of the season but fell away in the closing weeks.  Against Brentford, whose 2-0 secured their promotion to the topflight English football for the first time in the club’s history, it was more of the same. Ivan Toney put away a coolly struck penalty to give them the lead early on before a cool Emiliano Marcondes strike increased the lead.  Swansea perhaps, overawed by the occasion, offered no reply. To add insult to injury Jay Fulton was sent off midway through the second half.

Taking to social media, Lowe acknowledged that the loss had been difficult but insists the team’s resolve was not shaken after failure to return to the topflight.

“Been an emotional few days.  But this feeling can only fuel us for next season!  Thank you for all the support and welcoming in my first year at the club.  Recover, recharge and go again,” Lowe posted to Instagram.

Lowe scored 14 goals for Swansea this season and played in all 49 league games.

 

Brentford captain Pontus Jansson heaped praise on Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa after the Bees were promoted to the Premier League for the first time.

Ivan Toney's penalty, swiftly followed by a fierce first-time strike from Emiliano Marcondes, secured a 2-0 win for Brentford in the Championship play-off final against Swansea City.

Brentford lost to Fulham at the same stage last year, Jansson's first with the club after leaving Bielsa's Leeds, who were promoted as champions and have this term enjoyed a spectacular return to the Premier League, finishing ninth.

But, speaking to Sky Sports, Jansson explained how what he learned from Bielsa played a pivotal role in Brentford ending a 74-year absence from the top flight.

"Last year a lot of Leeds fans was against me, this year so many Leeds fans have been with me and with Brentford, probably because they are already there and they wanted me to come and join them," Jansson said.

"I love Leeds, Brentford fans know I love Leeds, Leeds is one of the favourite clubs I have, of course I love Brentford as much, I'm so proud, I'm so happy, I could go home to Sweden and retire because this is what I've dreamt of for such a long time since I came to England, finally of course I will not go home, I will stay here and hopefully play Premier League football.

"I'm so thankful to Bielsa for what he gave me at Leeds, he gave me so much knowledge that I actually brought to Brentford and Brentford was so willing to listen to me and my ideas that I took from Bielsa.

 

"I thank him a lot because he's one of the best coaches in the world. People think mine and his relationship is not the best but it is, I'm so thankful to him."

Brentford scored 79 goals in the 46-game Championship season, the most in the division, increasing the tally for the campaign to 84 with their efforts in the play-offs.

The Bees scored 73 non-penalty goals across 49 matches, underperforming their xG of 74.4 but playing an expansive style of football reflective of what Jansson experienced at Leeds.

 

Toney was the talisman behind their promotion, his spot-kick taking him to 33 goals in a remarkable campaign. Twenty-two of those goals came from 135 non-penalty shots with an xG of 20.7.

Asked about what he could do in front of goal in the top tier, Toney replied: "I don't know, who knows what's to come.

"I'm a Premier League striker now and I can't wait to score goals in the Prem."

Brentford secured promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their history with a 2-0 victory over Swansea City in the Championship play-off final.

The Bees lost at this stage last season to London rivals Fulham but were in no mood to be denied this time around and were 2-0 up inside 20 minutes.

Ivan Toney's 10th-minute penalty, his 33rd goal of an amazing campaign, opened the scoring and Brentford's lead was doubled by Emiliano Marcondes just under 10 minutes later.

Swansea were much improved in the second half, but Jay Fulton's red card effectively sealed victory for Brentford as they clinched a first promotion to the top flight since 1935, ending their 74-year absence from the highest domestic level having been relegated back in 1947.

Toney had scored all 10 of his previous penalties this season and never looked likely to err after goalkeeper Freddie Woodman felled Bryan Mbeumo when he was played in by Sergi Canos' superb reverse pass.

He duly made it 11 from 11 by calmly slotting beyond former Newcastle United team-mate Woodman and into the bottom-left corner, with Toney's record from the spot the best of any player in England's top four tiers in all competitions.

Swansea struggled to respond to that early setback and they were soon given a mountain to climb when Mads Rasmussen expertly picked out Marcondes at the end of a counter-attack and the Dane rifled a fine finish into the bottom-right corner.

And the Bees were almost out of sight as Toney cracked a spectacular volley against the underside of the crossbar, with Woodman grateful to see the ball bounce on the line and out.

Swansea did stem the tide thereafter and went close in the final minute of normal time in the first half as Andre Ayew sent a header off the top of the bar before starting the second half by skewing a diving header wide from Connor Roberts' cross.

Jamal Lowe crafted some promising openings for the Swans but Fulton was shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Mathias Jensen, giving Brentford fans cause to start the celebrations early on a landmark day for the club.

What does it mean? Brentford make it a half-century of Premier League clubs

Swansea were looking to end a three-season stay in the second tier following Premier League relegation in 2018, but Brentford will instead make their debut in the division, becoming the 50th different club to grace the league since its inception in 1992.

Their 86 years between promotions to the top flight is the second-longest gap behind Bradford City, who ended a wait of 91 years in 1999.

Ivan sets the tone

The composure Toney displayed in converting from the spot showed him to be a player ready for the magnitude of the occasion and only the woodwork prevented him from magnificently ending the game as a contest in the first half.

Just one player, Cambridge United's Paul Mullin (34), has scored more goals in all competitions than Toney this season. Brentford will hope his prolific form translates to the Premier League as they bid to stay up next season.

Woodman gets it wrong

Woodman had to be sure he was going to get the ball when he came off his line to challenge Mbeumo. His misjudgement swiftly swung the game in Brentford's favour. Though he could do little about the second goal, this was a day to forget for a goalkeeper likely to be in demand in the transfer window.

What's next?

Brentford could start the season against the European champions, with games against Manchester City and Chelsea on the horizon. For Swansea, it's another term in the Championship, with the likes of Peterborough United and Luton Town lying in wait.

Gareth Bale's future is uncertain as his loan spell at Tottenham from Real Madrid draws to an end.

Bale has said he intends to return to Madrid for the final year of his contract.

Spurs' interest in keeping the Wales star beyond this season is not clear as they are in the market for a new head coach after Jose Mourinho's dismissal.

 

TOP STORY – NEW SPURS BOSS TO DECIDE ON BALE

The Daily Mail reports that Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy will let the club's new head coach decide whether or not to re-sign Bale.

The option remains for a second loan deal for the Welshman to re-join Spurs from Madrid next season.

Spurs have first option on a second loan but they would require Bale's agreement, although he appears out of favour in Madrid.

Triggering the clause will cost Tottenham £12million.

 

ROUND-UP

- Borussia Dortmund's asking price for Jadon Sancho is down to £87m (€100m) according to ESPN, which may interest Manchester United and Liverpool. Dortmund previously demanded more than £100m (€115m) for the England midfielder.

- Arsenal are interested in signing Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara, with a five-year deal on the table, according to Football Insider.

- The Athletic claims Brentford striker Ivan Toney is drawing interest from Leicester City and Everton as well as a "host of clubs" preparing bids for his services.

- Newcastle United are considering a move for Vitesse defender Danilho Doekhi, reports De Telegraaf.

- Bayer Leverkusen are in the mix to sign Santos' teenage forward Kaio Jorge, claims Kicker.

West Ham have exercised a purchase option on Said Benrahma early in order to free up space for the mooted loan signing of Jesse Lingard from Manchester United.

Reported issues with his medical in October led to Benrahma's initially agreed transfer being renegotiated to a season-long loan move that included "an agreement to make the transfer permanent".

It is claimed West Ham paid an initial £4million to take him on loan from Championship side Brentford, with the permanent deal set to cost the Hammers £21m, plus £5m in variables.

West Ham are said to have triggered the purchase early to create space for Lingard, who is reportedly on the verge of completing a loan switch from United.

Premier League clubs are restricted to two domestic loan players in their squad, vacancies that were filled by Benrahma and Craig Dawson.

West Ham are rumoured to be spending £1.5m on bringing Lingard in until the end of the season, as they look to boost their push for European football.

David Moyes' men are flying high in the Premier League, their 35 points from 20 games enough to put them fifth in the table, just two points behind defending champions Liverpool a place above them.

Winger Benrahma is perhaps still acclimatising to top-flight football, as he has only played 12 times in the Premier League and has just a couple of assists to his name.

His eight chances created is also relatively underwhelming for such an explosive player – that figure translates to 1.2 per 90 minutes, which is only high enough for seventh in the West Ham squad.

He is attempting (5.2) and completing (2.9) more dribbles than any other West Ham player, though in the long run they will be expecting greater attacking productivity considering his form with Brentford over the previous two seasons.

He was directly involved in 54 goals in all competitions (29 goals and 25 assists) for the Championship club, which was more than any other Brentford player in that time.

Also across the same period, no player in England's second tier could match his 50 goal involvements (27 goals and 23 assists) in the league.

And across the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, Benrahma created 188 goalscoring chances in the Championship – which was second only to Pablo Hernandez (204) – and his 233 successful dribbles was 32 more than any other player in the division.

Kylian Mbappe wants time to make a decision on his future as Real Madrid await a signal from the Paris Saint-Germain star.

Mbappe, 22, has been linked with a move to Madrid and his contract at PSG ends in 2022.

But will the forward end up at the Santiago Bernabeu?

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID WAIT FOR MBAPPE

Real Madrid are waiting for a signal from Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, according to Marca.

The report says Mbappe has asked for time to decide his future.

While Madrid have been most strongly linked with a move for Mbappe, Liverpool are also reportedly interested.

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Madrid and Fabrizio Romano says a new contract for midfielder Luka Modric is imminent. The Croatian midfielder's current deal expires at the end of the season.

- Dele Alli's future is set to be a constant talking point until at least the end of this transfer window. ESPN claims Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is reluctant to let the midfielder leave for PSG. Romano reports Spurs are still looking for a replacement and were working on re-signing Christian Eriksen, but Inter wanted a loan fee and the midfielder's salary paid in full.

- Lyon star Houssem Aouar was linked to Arsenal last close season, but the midfielder could head elsewhere. Gianluca Di Marzio reports Juventus are looking at the 22-year-old as an option ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

- Lucas Torreira seems set to move on from Atletico Madrid. Diario AS says Monaco are favourites to sign the midfielder, who is on loan at Atletico from Arsenal.

- Said Benrahma has made an impression at West Ham. Sky Sports reports West Ham have converted their loan for Benrahma from Brentford into a permanent move, paying £20million plus add-ons. The report says West Ham are also in talks to sign RB Leipzig forward Hwang Hee-chan.

Jose Mourinho labelled Son Heung-min a "special player" after Tottenham reached the EFL Cup final on Tuesday.

Moussa Sissoko and Son scored as Spurs recorded a 2-0 win over Brentford, who were reduced to 10 men after Josh Dasilva's late red card.

Only Harry Kane (17) has scored more goals in all competitions this season than Son (16) among Premier League players.

Mourinho lauded the forward, who had more key passes (three) and shots on target (two) than any other player against Brentford.

"That's the humility of a player. That's Sonny. That's the human nature. He's like that. Some other guys they are not like that. For him it's the team," the Spurs head coach told a news conference.

"For him, for [Harry] Kane, for Lucas [Moura], for many the team is first and of course we depend a lot on the characteristics of some players. Sonny is one of them.

"He had two chances. He had a good volley. I saw the ball in the net but unfortunately, I was wrong and the ball went out. Then he faced the keeper in a difficult moment of the game, where the game is open.

"The opponent is trying and pushing and he goes and he kills the game. So special player but also a special human being."

Spurs' next outing is a trip to non-league side Marine in the FA Cup on Sunday.

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