A seven goal whooping of Luton was proof in the pudding the Brentford do have fire in their bellies. And have the quality in the side to take teams apart. Billy Grant looks back on an enjoyable afternoon at Griffin Park

The match

When we speak to the likes of Bees Head Coach Thomas Frank and Brentford Director of Football Phil Giles, they constantly tell us they are completely comfortable with how we are playing overall and what we are doing. Yes each match there are things that we can do better. But overall we are ‘doing the right things’. Getting the balls into the right places. And at the back, we are defending resolutely.

They were confident if we did that, eventually someone would get a good hiding for all the chances that we had missed against the likes of your Charltons and Birminghams of the world.

When you lose 1-0 to #TeamsLikeBlackburn when, at the very least, you should have eeked out a result, it’s very hard to retain perspective when you are told ‘everything will be all right’.

But Saturday was to be redemption day. The day Brentford finally delivered – in fact over-delivered – and sent their opponents home with their tails firmly between their legs.

Mbwemo scores. Brentford v Luton. Nov 30th 2019. Photo- Mark Fuller. Official Brentford Pictures.

Brentford were masterful against Luton – who seemed to come to Griffin Park nervous – generated by a man-of-the-match performance by relative new-comer Josh Dasilva.

Before the match, Luton vlogger Lewis Williams predicted on the Pre-Match podcast that Luton would come to Griffin Park to play football. We thought that would suit us. 

As it goes, unlike most teams that come to Brentford, surprisingly they didn’t press us. They didn’t jam the midfield to try and stop us play. And they did not (effectively) continually scythe us down with cynical fouls in the middle of the pitch.

They were also helped by goalkeeper Shea who would have regretted his team choosing to (I’m guessing) make Brentford shoot towards the Ealing Road in the first half – a very unusual occurrence that made the fans on the terrace feel slightly off-kilter.

From very early on he was subject to chants of “It’s all your fault” after what can best be  described as a ‘rather-less-than-perfect’ display between the sticks. The chanting certainly would not have helped his nervous disposition.

Straight out the blocks Brentford pressured The Hatters. Forced a mistake from a back pass from Dan Potts in the 6th minute which completely bypassed the Luton keeper – and Mbuemo bundled the ball into the empty net.

Raya did pull off his one save of the match from Ruddock to keep Luton at bay but after that it was all one way traffic.

72% possession and this time – finally – Brentford made very good use of it, burying a large proportion of the 21 shots they had in the match

Mattias Jensen scored v Luton/ 30th Nov 2019. Photo – Mark Fuller. Official Brentford Pictures

Good goals from Watkins – set up with a perfectly-weighted pass from Dasilva – and Jenson – with a clever reverse-finish – seemed to unhinge keeper Shea who looked as if he couldn’t be bothered to get himself dirty. So hesitant was he to dive both times, the ball was rippling the back of the net before he had even made a decision to fling himself at the balls to keep them out.

Josh Dasilva was back fully charged after being dropped to the bench for the defeat against Blackburn on Wednesday. And he ran the show in midfield. He topped off his performance with his first Football League hat- trick including yet another anti-xG screamer from outside the box and a penalty.

Josh Dasilva scores – Brentford v Luton. Nov 30th 2019. Photo – Mark Fuller. Official Brentford pictures

The game was so one-sided, Bees fans were urging Brentford goalkeeper David Raya to go up and take the final penalty. He ran up to the half-way line to cheers from the Brentford faithful. But it wasn’t to be as honours were handed to the soon-to-be hat trick boy by designated penalty-taker Said Benrahma – who also got himself on the scoresheet earlier.

Brentford’s Thomas Frank said:

 “He knew he had to work on the defensive side of his game. He’s done that and is the fittest he’s ever been, and we’re now seeing the player he can be. I was delighted for him but I was also very proud that when we got the late penalty, Said, who usually takes them, ran to grab the ball and passed it over to Josh to get his hat-trick.

“Last season we knew we were conceding too many goals and we have addressed that, but now I have a nice dilemma when Julian Jeanvier finishes his suspension. We have 22 points from 11 games and that is good but we have to try to maintain it.”

Luton’s Graeme Jones said

“I was so embarrassed with that performance. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. We were fragile defensively and attacked with no intensity. We just collapsed and I have told the players that.

“I feel sorry for our supporters. They travelled in numbers and I need to apologise for that performance. But the boys have asked me to say that they will take responsibility for the performance today, which was big of them.”

In the post match podcast above, there were no criticisms for Brentford whatsoever. But fans were aware that it was important for this match to not be a one-off. To keep abreast with the opposition, Brentford would need to maintain a certain level of consistency.

Saying that, I’m sure most of our rivals would take an 80% winning run at the moment.

Statisistics

xG – Expected Goals Brentford v Luton 30th Nov 2019. c/o infogol

On the expected goals front, Brentford were way out there – scoring a whopping 4.33 as opposed to Luton who scored 0.12 for their solo attempt on goal.

With that type of xG, one would be happy with scoring 4 or maybe 5. So by scoring 7, the Bees certainly out-performed themselves.

The bigger the bubble, the better the quality of chance of scoring. Although, Brentford’s xG was bolstered by the two penalties (77% of chance of scoring each penalty adding 1.54 to the xG total), even without these two chances, the Bees would have notched up a healthy xG of 2.79 with Brian Mbeumo (73% chance of scoring his chance – xG 0.73), Ollie Watkins (xG 0.52 and 0.34) and Henrik Dalsgaard (31% chance of scoring his chance – xG 0.31) the biggest chances on paper.

Ironically, Josh Dasilva continues to defy the staticians with scoring two goals which – on paper – just shouldn’t have happened. His curler from outside the area on 40 mins – only 3% of similar chances recorded have ever hit the back of the net (xG – 0.03) whereas his tricky inside the area which results in a goal – only 11% of similar chances hit the back of the net (xG – 0.11). Jensen also scored against the odds – his chance only 6% of similar chances recorded hitting the back of the net (xG – 0.06).

Nice to see Brentford mixing it up a bit rather than trying to walk the ball into the back of the net every time.

 

Simple match stats saw Brentford with 21 shots on goal, 12 of those on target and an 89% pass success rate. The Bees saw 71% of the ball in the whole match – good to see possession finally turn into goals.

 

Brentford v Luton 30th Nov 2019 player ratings -whoscored.com

With regards the player ratings from who scored.com, I would be very surprised if at least 6 or 7 Brentford players did not get into the whoscored.com team of the week with Benrahma and Dasilva scoring an unbelievable 10/10 and Ollie Watkins close behind on 9.9/10.

Pontus Jansson was the lowest scoring starting player – his score of 6.9 being higher than any of the Luton players which tells a story. And he was substituted just after 60 minutes

Summary

I’m going to be careful not to get carried away here. Last season we beat Rotherham 5-1 on the first day of the season and I thought we were going to romp the league. History shows that – although we were undoubtedly good that day – Rotherham allowed us to show our very best side. And they were unable to highlight our deficiencies.

Brentford’s defence is undoubtedly tighter than it was last season and that’s the key to any side who wants to fight for promotion. That coupled with the fact that Brentford seem to be sharing the goals about, I believe that makes us a much more dangerous force.

Dasilva and Sawyers – Brentford v Luton. Nov 30th 2019. Photo – Mark Fuller. Official Brentford Pictures

Josh DaSilva is becoming a key player for Brentford. His ability to defy the expected goals gurus is wonderful as it makes Brentford as a team much more unpredictable. In addition to his goals, his strength, speed, ability to find the perfect pass. And defensive prowess makes him – arguably – a valuable addition to the team who – in time – will ably replace the much-missed Sawyers.

The next three matches will be crucial to see where we really stand. A tough Sheffield Wednesday has been rejuvenated by Gary Monk. Neil Harris’ is now top boy at Cardiff – he’s got a score to settle with us after our win against Millwall in October.

And then the big one. Fulham who have not quite been firing on all cylinders. Yet have been recently grinding out the results.

Continue on our ‘two points a game’ record over these three matches and we can optimistically look forward to bigger and better things in the New Year.

Billy Grant
@BillyTheBee99