Billy Grant looks back on the West London derby where a bus stop in deepest West London retained the bragging rights over it’s Westfield Shopping Centre rival.
QPR came to Griffin Park brimming with confidence. Eleven goals scored with only (rarely for them) one conceded made them the highest goal-scorers across all four division – as stat that Rangers fans were dining out on in the run-up to the match.
Saying that, Brentford were also looking strong going into the game. Five home wins in a row, the third highest goalscorer in the league (41 goals) and four successive home victories again QPR, the signs were all there for a proper West London ding-dong.
Even before a ball was kicked, Bees fans were knocked for six as the penneth dropped that they were to witness a rare scenario – Brentford shooting towards the Ealing Road in the first half.
Always makes fans twitchy seeing their team not shoot towards their regular end in the second. But we’ve learned to overcome it.
If that was Warburton’s choice, he was a brave man it has to be said. The last team to have done that was Luton and they found themselves 5-0 down by half-time.
The game started slowly for Brentford with QPR taking the game to them. Rangers were full of beans, looking to press high up the pitch forcing Brentford to make mistakes in possession and play longer.
David Raya was called to make a tremendous save from a Pontus Jansson back-header fluff to keep Brentford in the game. Then he almost got caught out Millwall-stylee as Nakhi Wells pressed him trying to ‘baller’ the ball out of defence. Luckily this time he was able to use Pinnock to save his blushes.
And the breakthrough almost came when a perfectly weighted Dalsgaard pass fell to Ollie Watkins running in on goal. He beat his marker and was clearly taken down in the box – the referee waving play on. A lucky let-off for Rangers.
That was then followed by tremendous 14-minute spell when Saïd Benrahma – who barely had a touch all game until this point – Bryan Mbeumo and Ollie Watkins (known as the Brentford BMW) all scored – all but killing of the game as a contest as The Bees took full control of the West London derby.
Firstly a Jensen free kick is nipped in low for Benrahma to bury in the back of the net.
🎙 – “From the training ground to the stadium – absolutely perfect!”
Brentford catch QPR cold from a free-kick and Benrahma opens the scoring in style! 🔥🐝 pic.twitter.com/GxnhEmkZom
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) January 11, 2020
Then QPR keeper Lumley made a poor clearance and the ball fell to Nørgaard who played the ball in for Mbeumo to evade defenders to poke the ball home.
The third goal was text-book. A Jensen free kick was headed back into the mixer by Pinnock and Watkins was there to head home.
Game, set and match to Brentford.
The Bees had more chances before half time as they tore into QPR.
Lumley was fortunate not to have gifted The Bees a second goal – his poor clearance straight to Mbuemo was worked to Dasilva whose cross was almost converted by Watkins – a last ditch interception by Hall saving Lumley’s blushes
In the second half, Brentford were happy to sit back – allowing QPR to attack whilst hitting them on the break.
Fair play to Rangers who took the game to Brentford with the Bees having to be on their defensive ‘A game’.
Meanwhile on the terraces, Bees fans were in fine voice.
“We’re just a bus stop in Hounslow”
they sang referring to the song QPR fans sang at them the previous season in an attempt to belittle their West London neighbours. The song was then adopted (and owned) by Brentford fans after the Bees had dished out their annual beating and it has now become a terrace favourite – even having a number of different versions (re-fixes) of the original version flying around.
“You’re being f**ed by a bus stop”
“You’re being f**ed on the TV”
were also chants emanating from the Ealing Road terrace as Brentford looked to ride this game out. The fans were enjoying every minute of this encounter.
Benrahma performed one of his trademark ‘lets embarrass the opposition defender’ tricks once again- this time by flicking the ball before performing a wee pirouette.
Standard stuff for him
At the other end, Osayi-Samuel was causing problems – giving Rico Henry plenty of work to do on the Bees left.
And it was he who set up the Rangers goal – playing a clever little one-two with Ilias Chair before cutting the ball back for Nakhi Wells to tap home. A good goal to be fair.
The highly-rated Eze (who?) was kept fairly quiet by the Brentford defence. But he should have really made it 3-2 – picking up the ball 10 yards out and shooting. Raya saving although the stats (below) say that it was actually only a one-in-ten chance of scoring. So may have looked more dangerous than it actually was.
But with Brentford’s game management being so much better this season, the Bees were able to see out five minutes of added-on time with not too many more heart flutters.
Thomas Frank – who has always emphasised how important for Brentford to get to grips with the defensive side of their game – was incredibly pleased with the team’s performance
“I’m proud at times of the level of football we produce”
“We are playing quite nice, forward-thinking football, but the big decisive factor why we do so well this season is the defensive side of the game.
For me one of the most beautiful moment in this game was after a corner. QPR broke and we had eight players sprinting back, with Said Benrahma the first of them. That is magic for me”.
He also refused to talk about promotion and the fact that some people who crunch numbers for a living rate The Bees as currently as clearly the second best team in the division.
“We are pleased that the fans are dreaming and believing, I think that makes their week better. But our job is to keep focus on the next game.”
After the final whistle Beesotted ran a poll asking fans what excuse Mark Warburton would give in his post-match press conference
OK folks Mark Warburton bingo
— Beesotted Brentford (@Beesotted) January 11, 2020
“They’ll learn from that” was narrowly pipped to the post “We go again”.
But Warbs threw a curveball blaming the wind for QPR not getting their just deserts – not sure exactly what position Mr Wind was playing mind you.
He also branded the first half QPR performance as “Unacceptable” and added:
“As a group we had some words and you saw a much, much better second half performance”.
QPR fans were less than happy with their team’s showing on the pitch – singling out QPR’s tactics as questionable.
Said it before and I’ll say it again Warburton is totally inept.
Poor team selection, poor tactics, no plan B and substitutions that absolutely do nothing to change the game. Do us all a favour and go now
— John Purse (@qpr1954) January 11, 2020
Tactically inept management. Away from home against a good side playing 3 attacking players.??? Hasn’t learnt from his time at Glasgow Rangers
— Andy Moore (@AndyMoo90) January 11, 2020
In the post match podcast from the bus stop (and the pub) above, Bees fans were purring about the first half performance. Whilst pontificating on what may be. Whereas the QPR fans expressed disappointment.
The win cements Brentford’s third spot with 46 points – one point above 4th place Fulham.
More importantly, The Bees are only six points behind second place Leeds and seven behind leaders West Brom with both teams due to visit Griffin Park within the next two months.
Simple stats shows Brentford with the majority of play – 52% possession and six shots on target compared to QPR’s two. Interestingly, Rangers had more passes (451 to 408) despite Brentford having more possession – completing 353 of them to Brentford’s 293
Drilling down deeper, looking at the xG between the two teams, Brentford scored a healthy 1.97 with a hat-trick of very good Watkins chances creating a large bulk of that score.
The 32 minute goal (44% of similar chances are scored – xG 0.44). His 84th minute shot (xG 0.32) and his 87th minute shot (xG 0.49) – which was actually a better quality chance that the goal itself – were the Brentford’s three big chances.
Mbuemo’s goal – 15% of similar chances recorded have hit the back of the net (xG 0.15). Whereas Benrahma put his goal away well – 8% of similar chances scored (xG 0.08). Were the others on the list of chances that registered;
Meanwhile, Rangers had three chances in the area with only two really of note – notching up an xG of 0.85.
Nakhi Wells converting the best chance off the game on 61 minutes (xG 0.66) with Eze’s chance on 77 minutes looked touch and go as to whether it would actually hit the back off the net with an xG of 0.13 saying in reality 13% of similar chances ended up buried in the back of the net.
It’s taken a while for the team to get in its flow. But Brentford are well and truly now on a roll.
All the early season talk of ‘players gelling’ and ‘learning the patterns of play’ is now starting to take fruition.
And if you believe in stats, performance-wise we are right up there with the top teams – challenging for the top spot.
And as we enter the January transfer window, we look less like a body of assembled players. And more of a team. A set of individuals playing for each other. Delighted to be there.
I don’t want to jinx anything. And maybe I shouldn’t say anything until February 1st. But the likelihood of any player leaving this window whilst we are doing so well is slim.
As Thomas Frank said in his press conference
“why would anyone want to leave?”
And playing like we’re playing at the moment …
… why indeed?