If ever there was any hint of how difficult Premier League survival would be, Brentford’s defeat at home to Norwich City would have been the perfect wake-up call.
Coming into the game on the back of three successive league defeats, victory over the winless Canaries would have been the perfect response heading into the international break.
However, the 2-1 defeat dealt Thomas Frank’s side another harsh reality check into how unrewarding life can sometimes be in the Premier League.
Even more worrying was that the Bees had handed their relegation rivals a first win of the campaign for the second consecutive weekend after the 3-1 loss to Burnley at Turf Moor.
And with Newcastle United away up next after the international break, it is imperative the same thing does not happen for a third successive time.
From a Bees’ perspective, it’s all well and good playing well against the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea but it’s the ability to pick up points and win ugly against relegation rivals is what really matters.
Although Brentford boss Frank alluded to Lionel Messi in describing the way in which Norwich’s Mathias Normann managed to glide past Brentford’s players to open the scoring after just six minutes, there was still a sense it was far too easy from a Brentford perspective.
Nonetheless, the defeat was a carbon copy of their other home defeats to the likes of Brighton and Chelsea where, despite dominating in all the statistics they ultimately came away empty-handed on the one figure that matters most – the final scoreline.
Brentford have also conceded eight goals in their last four league games with seven of them coming in the opening 45 minutes as the Bees struggle to get things going and are punished for their slow starts.
Yet speaking after the game against Norwich, Frank argued Brentford were merely experiencing a bad run of results as opposed to a poor run of form, stating should his side continue to perform as they were doing then the law of statistics suggest his side will be fine.
Injuries have plagued the squad over the last month with Zanka’s early substitution against the Canaries just the latest in addition to an ever-increasing casualty list.
Utilising a system where the centre-backs are key to Brentford’s style of play, the absence of Kristoffer Ajer, Mads Bech Sorenson and now Zanka means the Bees are light in defence with the onus on Charlie Goode to step-up coming into the hectic festive period.
It was a baptism of fire for the player on his Premier League debut against Norwich as he conceded a penalty just 17 minutes after replacing Zanka while goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez also had to hit the ground running with first-choice David Raya ruled out until at least February.
And with Matias Jensen testing positive for COVID-19 ahead of Denmark’s fixtures, the tight-knitted Brentford squad could be forced to limp through the tough November and December fixtures with an increasingly thin squad.
The combination of Brentford and the Premier League’s high intensity style and the over-reliance on a small number of players hasn’t helped the situation with the international break coming at a perfect time for Frank and his side to reset ahead of the busy winter period.
With eight games in December alone, it truly is a battle of attrition where Brentford will have to quickly learn how to grind out results to complement their preferred free-flowing style in order to continue to revel in the occasions that the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea bring.