Leon McLeod struck an injury-time equaliser to earn Brentford a hard-earned point away at the Championships leading goal scorers, West Brom. Thomas Frank’s side dug deep in their lockers to keep out the free-scoring Baggies in what was a hectic game at the Hawthorns. West Brom had 23 shots in all, however, only managed one shot on target all game, as Brentford rode out a first-half storm to leave the Hawthorns with a point.
In this piece, I will look at how Brentford managed to bring defensive stability and structure after a shocking first-half defensive display under Frank, in a mix and match away performance.
Brentford produced a quite shocking first-half performance as their tactics of sitting off and allowing West Brom time and space backfired quite spectacularly. It was beggars belief at how West Brom didn’t manage to score in what was a dominant first-half for the Baggies.
It took a mere two minutes for West Brom to establish the pattern for the game, as Jay Rodriguez struck over the bar from just three yards out. Brentford’s shape and defensive organisation left a lot to be desired as West Brom picked holes within the Bee’s formation.
Brentford established their game plan early on and decided they would establish a high press. This was done to stop West Brom playing midfield to the likes of Matt Philips to run at the Brentford back line.
However, this tactic had zero effect on West Brom as the ball got played down the Brentford right-hand side to Harvey Barnes, who is given acres of space to run into and allowed to cross fro Rodriguez who missed from just a few yards out. This early chance set the tempo for the rest of the game and immediately left Brentford on the back foot.
That early chance saw a switch in Brentford’s tactical play as they sat back and allowed West Brom on to themselves. However as shown in over the course of Frank’s reign as Brentford manager, Brentford have been accused of not being switched on defensively, losing concentration during key moments of a game. this is exactly what happened two minutes later as West Brom cut through Brentford with ease.
A lack of awareness sees Matt Phillips played over the top and in behind Brentford’s defence with many of the Brentford players static and not picking a man to mark. Despite the awareness of Ezri Konsa, the Brentford players fail in helping their teammate by marking Rodriguez, who is open for the pass in the next phase of play.
As the half went on, the defending did not get much better from Brentford as they really struggled to contain a rampant West Brom side. The tactic of sitting back into a defensive shape was really taking its toll on Brentford as they once again made individual mistakes which once again played a part in Brentford conceding a plethora of chances, however, not a major part.
In this example, Chris Mepham found himself with the ball at his feet in his own box and decided to dribble whilst Hal Robson-Kanu paid close attention to the centre-back by closing him down. Mepham eventually gives the ball away which leads to a cross from the left wing from Philips. The ball manages to evade two West Brom players, as four Brentford players stand and watch as Rodriguez and Robson-Kanu attack the ball in an attempt to score.
The second-half provided a more strong and stable Brentford rearguard action as they held out against West Brom. However, the pressure of the entire game told and Brentford’s strong resistance was broken in the 77th minute. A first time cross from the right by Philips found its way past three Brentford players, towards the unmarked Barnes who was in the Brentford box, as he struck home the games first goal.
Brentford Rescue A Point
Whilst Brentford were shocking defensively, they did retain one major positive, their late equaliser. Brentford showed how despite being under immense defensive pressure the entire game, they still retain a strong attack that can punish teams if they haven’t scored more than one goal. A ball out to an unmarked Emiliano is whipped in for an unmarked McLeod, who heads home in he 92nd minute to rescue a point.
In a game where West Brom dominated so much, the Baggies made a one and only fatal error in the dying embers of the game. Emiliano is left unmarked on the right-hand side of the pitch, opening up a crossing opportunity for Brentford.
Brentford got lucky in a game where they should have been torn apart in what can only be described as an abysmal first half. However, Frank has given the Bees blueprint to follow in difficult away games, with a more sturdy and structured second-half performance. In attack, Brentford still retain the players to hurt opposition team who fail to convert chances, with Neal Maupay providing the firepower.
If you love tactical analysis, then you’ll love the new magazine from totalfootballanalysis.com – 118 pages of pure tactical analysis covering topics from the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga and many, many more. Get your copy today for just £4.99 here!