Misfiring or unlucky? Bryan Mbeumo’s display against Chelsea on Saturday evening could be summed up by either one of those words.
In spite of another relentless display tormenting the European Champions’ defence, the Frenchman was unable to find a goal his performance deserved, hitting the woodwork twice during the encounter.
Those two near misses took his tally of hitting the frame of the goal to six for the season already, well on the way to breaking the record held by Robin Van Persie who hit the woodwork a staggering 10 times for Arsenal during the 2011/12 campaign.
The margins for error may be miniscule but they make all the difference – had these chances been converted then Mbeumo would be sitting at the top of the goalscoring charts alongside Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy (both seven goals) as opposed to being stuck on two league goals.
Brentford’s 1-0 loss to Chelsea was reminiscent of their previous home defeat to Brighton when, mis-firing on all fronts that afternoon, Mbeumo missed two gilt-edged chances which came back to haunt him when Leandro Trossard won the game in the final minute.
Indeed, the expected goals department shows Mbeumo in the top 10 with his xG totalling 3.63, again suggesting he should be at the top of the Premier League goalscoring charts considering the chances he’s missed.
Against Brighton, head coach Thomas Frank felt it was just a case of luck not being on Mbeumo’s side, saying “that it was only a matter of time before he scored”.
Mbeumo would go on to score his first Premier League goal in the next game in an impressive 2-0 win away at Wolves before grabbing the opener in the 2-1 win over West Ham United ahead of the international break.
Saturday’s game once again saw Frank speak in a positive light about Mbeumo’s overall display, insisting ‘it was all about the margins’.
Of course, it’s not the first time Mbeumo has struggled in front of goal – going 17 games without finding the net last season before a rich vein of form towards the back end of the season saw him finish on eight goals from 49 appearances.
That return was in stark contrast to the 16 goals he plundered in 47 games during his debut 2019/20 season for Brentford as part of the infamous ‘BMW’ trio that also consisted of Said Benrahma and Ollie Watkins.
Arriving from Troyes, Mbeumo was very much the unknown quantity in that 4-3-3 formation, playing in his more accustomed wide role with the pressure and expectation very much off the young Frenchman.
But with the departure of both Benrahma and Watkins in the subsequent summer, there was undoubtedly more pressure to ‘step-up’ as the sole survivor of the attacking three – a burden arguably weighing on the young player’s shoulders at times last season.
This season has seen his role change again – appearing as part of a two upfront as Thomas Frank looks to solidify his midfield with an extra man and Mbeumo now playing more centrally and on the shoulder of the last man, working and feeding off Ivan Toney’s aerial presence and passing qualities.
It’s also worth remembering Mbeumo is still very much learning the game at the age of 22 as well as dealing with transition from Championship to the harsh and unforgiving Premier League.
Overall, whether he has the goals or not to prove it, he has been excellent with his work rate and speed a constant nuisance to defenders while simultaneously seeing his relationship with strike partner Toney continue to blossom.
Whether Mbeumo is misfiring or just outright unlucky, he has matured and developed into a much better player since arriving at the club and will only get better.