Beesotted contributors The Gowler and Paul Kowalczyk (@BeesBreakdown) give us the tactical and statistical lowdown of Brentford’s draw to Chelsea.
Brentford switched to their 5-3-2 formation which is seen when facing clubs that hold more possession. Zanka and Roerslev got the start as Ajer and Wissa went to the bench. Squad rotation was needed for this midweek match, but the depth of this Brentford squad was on display.
Thomas Frank stuck with a midfield of Onyeka, Janelt, and Jensen. Onyeka was tasked with covering lots of ground as he occasionally slipped into a front 3 when Chelsea had possession in their own half. Each midfielder was asked to consistently press their zone on defence. Janelt and Ben Mee assignments were to step to Chelsea players receiving the ball, which they accomplished, but at times caused trouble for Brentford.
Going forward Mbeumo and Toney were given freedom to fluidly switch sides. Mbeumo spent time trying to take advantage of Azpilicueta’s lack of pace. Toney dropped into midfield and out wide to engage in combination play for buildup. Thomas Frank used different tactics to play a balanced style of football and attack Chelsea in different ways. Hopefully the Bees stick to using this new style of football because not only is it more unpredictable, but it’s fun to watch.
Possession: Brentford 34% – 66% Chelsea
xG: Brentford 1.0 – 0.7 Chelsea
Shots: Brentford 8 – 14 Chelsea
Big Chances: Brentford 3 – 1 Chelsea
Other Brentford stats:
Aerial duels won: 17
Saves: 5/5 100%
Brentford fans may have settled for a draw before the match, but Brentford threatened Chelsea throughout the match but especially for the first 70 minutes. The Bees started out strong attacking Chelsea with some combination play in the middle of the pitch. Brentford continued their high press on goal kicks, giving Kepa trouble, which led to long goal kicks out of bounds gifting Brentford possession back.
Mbeumo and Toney had free flowing movement across Brentford’s front line throughout the match. Frank Onyeka was absolutely brilliant and executed his instructions well. Onyeka could slide forward on the right to form a front 3, but was tasked with covering lots of ground on defence.
The Bees did not look one dimensional against Chelsea. Brentford created good attacking chances through slow build up, set pieces, and quick counters. The Bees did well to continue mixing up corner and free kick routines. Jensen and Onyeka provided options for combination play in the middle of the pitch instead of outlets for passes out wide. Brentford didn’t settle for only playing long balls like they did against Arsenal. Although Raya did launch some goal kicks, he also comfortably played the ball out of the back.
Another bright spot for Brentford was their transition defence. The Bees put in a lot of effort to quickly get back after Chelsea won back possession. Ben Mee had a few instances of difficulty defending Broja. His pace was causing trouble for the Bees toward the end of the first half. This along with the task of stepping up and pressing Chelsea players as they receive the ball made a difficult assignment for Ben Mee.
As mentioned in our match preview twitter thread, it’s difficult to keep up the Bees high intensity for 90 minutes especially in a midweek match. Brentford settled into more of a low/mid-block during the last 20-30 minutes of the match. Chelsea’s starters combined for .2 xG and .1 xA. Their substitutions accounted for the rest of their .7 xG and .6 xA.
Brentford’s three lowest possession matches this season have resulted in the Bee’s only three wins. This match against Chelsea was Brentford’s fourth lowest possession match. Fans will have wished Brentford could’ve put one in the back of the net on their numerous chances, but Brentford still earned a draw against a top side.