Brentford have shown enough glimpses of encouragement as a cruel month comes to an end

4 min

The past month has been cruel on Brentford with Thomas Frank’s side facing World Champions Manchester City twice alongside games against Tottenham and Liverpool.

Sandwiched in between has been the Bees’ solitary Premier League win away to Wolves, leaving them five points above the drop zone in 14th place.

Yet despite four defeats in the past five, Brentford have shown enough to hurt their opposition ahead of what is expected to be a much kinder run of fixtures over the course of the next month.

While Brentford’s inability to go onto win a game after opening the scoring has been well documented, Ivan Toney’s return has undoubtedly brought about renewed vigour in the final third.

The forward has scored four in his last six, including the consolation against Liverpool where the Bees looked back to their menacing self at times – using Toney’s physicality to hold the ball up and win knock downs for late midfield runners.

Brentford’s main issue in that 4-1 defeat was their over commitment in the attacking third, allowing Liverpool opportunities to capitalise in transition and leave the Bees liable to making individual mistakes which Jurgen Klopp’s men duly exploited.

Against Manchester City at the Etihad, Frank made three changes to the starting line-up – one of which saw Yoane Wissa start in place of Neal Maupay.

The theory being that Wissa’s pace, which caused Liverpool problems in his 30-minute cameo, would cause similar problems against City’s high line.

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And it was a tactic which nearly paid off had it not been for a heavy touch when played through while the Congolese international also helped link play, creating an excellent opportunity for Frank Onyeka to open the scoring.

Onyeka was another of Frank’s trio of changes, replacing Mathias Jensen in midfield and impressing with his midfield bursts which allowed Brentford to escape relentless City pressure.

“I think Frank (Onyeka) was good today,” remarked Thomas Frank after the game. “Exactly what I expected from him.

“He worked very hard defensively, and basically City couldn’t catch him in spells, so I was very pleased with his performance.”

During City’s previous game, a 1-1 draw with Chelsea, Pep Guardiola’s side struggled on their left side with Brentford similarly exploiting this by using Mads Roerslev down the right, driving forward at every opportunity.

The Bees were a very different proposition defensively against City compared to Liverpool, quickly reorganising in the transition and maintaining their shape in the low block, while not leaving themselves too exposed at the back from their own set pieces.

READ MORE: Brentford continually hampered by absences – but patience remains the key word

Aside from an Oscar Bobb effort which was cleared off the line by Ben Mee, City were restricted to long range efforts in the opening 45 minutes which Bees keeper Mark Flekken dealt with easily.

Against the bigger sides, it’s fine margins which often make the difference in encounters and once again this proved true as Erling Haaland made the most of Kristoffer Ajer’s slip to beat Flekken with a low strike to score the game’s only goal.

Last season Brentford claimed 21 points against ‘Top Six’ opposition, an impressive record on par with that of City but in stark contrast to the four points they have only mustered against the same opposition so far this campaign.

“I think there have been some very good patches in these four games (against Man City (x2), Liverpool and Tottenham), if not for the full length of the games,” Frank said.

“The first-half against Tottenham was magnificent, I thought the first 35 minutes against Liverpool were fantastic.

“Against Man City we were very unlucky with a slip in a crucial situation, so there are more positives to take away than negatives.”

Indeed, if Brentford can learn from their mistakes, there have been enough glimpses to show that they cannot get a better return from forthcoming games against the likes of West Ham, Chelsea and Burnley.

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