Beesotted contributors The Gowler and Paul Kowalczyk (@BeesBreakdown) give us the tactical and statistical lowdown of Brentford’s loss to Arsenal.
The Bees hosted Brighton this past weekend on Matchweek 11. It was an interesting match as two similar clubs, both influenced by data analytics, faced one another. Hickey’s injury before the game may have forced this, but Frank switched up the formation as well as some personnel this week: going back to a 4-3-3 and bringing in Onyeka and Janelt to replace Baptiste and Dasilva.
Although Brentford lined up in their usual 4-3-3, there were some unusual tactical instructions. Brentford modified their high press to push even more numbers forward. This combined with crowding the midfield allowed for Brentford to frustrate a Brighton side that typically dominate the middle of the pitch. Brentford brushed off some mistakes from the past weekend, and the defence was well organized.
Brentford handled Brighton’s consistent attack with Raya being much more decisive. Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton squad dominated possession and took many more shots, but Brentford grinded out a 2-0 victory behind an Ivan Toney brace.
Possession: Brentford 28% – 72% Brighton
xG: Brentford 1.3 – 1.3 Brighton
Shots: Brentford 7 – 21 Brighton
Big Chances: Brentford 3 – 2 Brighton
Other Brentford stats:
Aerial duels won: 22
Saves: 7/7 100%
Thomas Frank made some much-needed tactical changes that allowed for more freedom getting forward and ability to control the midfield. The Bees lined up in their usual 4-3-3, but the formation changed throughout the match. Sometimes Brentford would drop into a 4-1-4-1, 4-3-2-1, or 5-3-2.
Brentford are lucky to have multiple players capable of covering various positions. Janelt is able to play as a centerback, Ajer a right back or centerback, and Mbeumo has surprisingly spent a lot of time at right-wingback this season. This allows Thomas Frank various options to build his squad and can transition into very different formations when moving from defence to attack.
In previous matches, Brighton has done well to control the midfield. Brentford was able to neutralize this by dropping Wissa or Mbeumo into the midfield based on where the ball was on the pitch. Mbeumo also being able to slide in as right-wingback allowed Janelt and Ben Mee to step to pressure while having cover at the back.
As mentioned before, the notable change in tactics to get numbers in the middle was a welcomed change. Instead of dropping midfielders wide, Jensen and Onyeka were instructed to typically stay in the middle of the pitch and make forward runs. Mbeumo and Ajer were crucial pieces to this as they also provided danger going forward.
After Brentford scored their first goal the Bees did not let up. Brentford kept the same intensity and pressure. The amount of players Brentford sent into the final third was a risky decision, but you could see it giving Brighton trouble. In hindsight this was absolutely the right decision because once Brentford switched to a more defensive formation Brighton started to threaten. Brighton ended up with 21 shots, but Raya kept the clean sheet with an excellent performance.
The Bees move onto Chelsea Wednesday. After a slow start to the season Chelsea has had a good run of form. Brentford typically sets up in a 5-3-2 against top teams, so it will be interesting to see what Thomas Frank goes with this week. Look for the BeesBreakdown Chelsea match preview on Twitter coming Tuesday.