Beesotted contributors The Gowler and Paul Kowalczyk (@BeesBreakdown) give us the tactical and statistical lowdown of Brentford’s draw to Nottingham Forest.

Matchweek 15 was a tale of two halves for the Bees who traveled to City Ground to face bottom of the table Forest. No match is an easy one in the Premier League, but we thought this was an away match that the Bees could win. The side has been riddled with injuries and Ajer is the latest name added on this list. Another notable absence was Ivan Toney, who was suspended for yellow card accumulation.

This lack of depth was apparent towards the end of the match and contributed to the Bees conceding late in added time. Forest’s structure was very organized and effective. This proved difficult for the Bees to break down and they struggled to gain traction in midfield until changes were made in the second half.

Recently Thomas Frank has allowed this Brentford side to play more through the middle instead of having midfielders in wide area and lofting in balls behind the back line. The Bees went back to tactics seen earlier in the year that we have seen them struggle to create chances with.

Frank has used Ajer as a defensive minded right back/hybrid center back, which Roerslev was deployed in a similar fashion. In possession, Brenftord worked in a 3-4-3 with Rico pushing high and wide on the left. Dasilva or Jensen would drift to the right side while the other stayed central. Dasilva and Jensen’s roles were interchangeable depending on where they were when Brentford won the ball. In defense Brentford started by pressing in a 4-4-2 using Jensen or Dasilva to push Forest’s back line with Wissa while the wingers dropped. 

2nd Minute

Forest are a good team in possession and were comfortable cycling the ball through their team back to their defenders. This would attract Dasilva or Jensen to push up and press, triggering Brentford’s 4-4-2. Once Brentford moved to this system, Forest would create a numerical advantage in midfield and quickly pass to find space and move the ball forward. Having this advantage in midfield also gave them a higher chance to win any loose balls in the middle third.

When Brentford had the ball, Forest would press with three in the front, but did not push the Bees until they attempted to move into Forest’s half. When they did press, especially on Brentford’s wings, Forest would smother the ball carrier and attempt to block passing lanes or force quick turnovers. Pressing with a front line of three, gave immediate forward options for Forest’s midfield to find when the ball was turned over.

3rd Minute

19th Minute

The first goal highlighted Forest’s ability to quickly transition from defense to offense and why their structure worked well against Brentford’s. Raya had options for a shorter, safer pass in Janelt or Roerslev, but instead went for a long ball to Wissa. Since Roerselv gave Raya an easy option along the goal line, he’s slower to move up and leaves Dennis onside as the ball is headed back towards Brentford’s goal. 

After the goal, Forest continued to pressure as Brentford attempted to break into their half. Brentford’s midfield and wingers did well to rotate positions and left Forest constantly searching for their marks. This helped pull defenders and open up more passing lanes or space for long balls. Brentford switched to pressure in a more compact 4-5-1 and looked much more organized in this system. Having the extra man in midfield allowed Brentford to cut out passing lanes faster and pick up more turnovers. This system forced the turnover that led to Wissa winning a penalty.

44th Minute

50th Minute

51st Minute

75th Minute

90 +6

Quick Stats:

Possession: Forest 48% – 52% Brentford

xG: Forest 1.5 – 1.5 Brentford

Big Chances: Forest 3 – 2 Brentford

Other Brentford stats:

Total Shots: 6

Interceptions: 4

Aerial duels won: 14 (47%)

Summary

A recurring theme we have seen this season is Brentford’s tendency to over defend towards the end of the game. Ghoddos and Damsgaard were used as midfielders in a 5-3-2 after Zanka came on as the third centerback. There’s a lack of quality depth because of the amount of injuries, but it was discouraging to see the team sit back and allow Forest to have so many chances towards the end. News of Norgaard coming back will be great news for the Bees. While the World Cup might hamper some teams, it’s hard to think it could do anything but help Brentford recuperate. They have one more test before the break, however, and that’s away to Man City.