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Despite losing the match, Beesotted’s Sara Loewenthal looks back on a night there was so much to celebrate and be proud of as Brentford ended their 2021 fixtures with the narrowest of defeats against Premier League Champions, Manchester City.

Overall Performance

This was supposed to be a hammering. We were set to be torn apart by the current Premier League title holders who had scored 17 goals in their last three matches. I guess Thomas Frank’s memo got lost somewhere because he didn’t adhere to the script.

From the start it was clear that the plan was to confound them whereever possible and boy, did the Bees do that. City dominated possession to begin with but we started to get into their half and keep Ederson and Aké busy.

It took a cross of real quality from Kevin De Bruyne to Phil Foden to get the one goal (allowed that is) of the game. I heard and read some say that this or that defender was at fault but I disagree. It was just a great goal and nobody in defence is to blame. VAR did have a look but on seeing the photos, it was onside in my very humble opinion.

Our defence was solid with Dom Thompson (who was awarded MOTM on Amazon) and Mads R both having pretty good games though DT needs more work on his passing. But he’s young and this is his second PL match so I can’t be too harsh on him. The CBs were rocks and the midfield did their jobs. Jensen had a good game playing a more defensive role than he’s used to and Shandon Baptiste looked calm and confident as usual with Frank Onyeka playing his best so far. Toney was outstanding as a sort of “everyman” midfielder, holding up and releasing to Wissa who looked lively. Unfortunately though that means he’s not up front as much as we need him to be to score.

Alvaro Fernandez’s distribution is getting better, he’s growing in confidence and made some good saves.

The referee David Coote was a big club bias sort of guy giving free kicks to them for what seemed like soft fouls and their second but disallowed goal came from one of those. The place rang out with “Can we have a referee” several times but in the end, maybe we just need to be more careful and recognise what more experienced teams in this league are able to get given and get away with. Toney and Fernandinho were both fortunate not to see red for some tit-for-tat sh*thousery.

Best Performers

The three CBs were standouts. I can’t fault them. Mads Bech is so improved from last season.

Ivan Toney was the other standout. I can’t really add anything to this tweet from Squawka Football.

“100% dribble success, 100% tackle success, 40 touches, 24 duels attempted (most),

 12 duels won (most), 11 aerial duels (most), 5 aerial duels won (most), 4 interceptions (most), 4 fouls won (most), 2 clearances”

The Brentford fans, who were exceptional, singing their hearts out. That’s all.

Room for Improvement

Dom Thompson played really well last night though his passing needs to be better but that will come with time, but he was outstanding in defence and was rewarded with being voted the fans’ MOTM as well.

Good-Jensen turned up today for the most part but his free kicks and corners need work.

As I said above, we [probably need to work on getting free kicks for soft stuff the way our opponents (any of them) are able to do.

A Word on the Opposition

They were exactly as you’d expect from one of the best teams in Europe, full of quality. However, I found them a bit dull at times as there was a sort of inevitability about it and for all that quality, they were still held to only one goal by a team missing eight starters including the first-choice goalkeeper. Guardiola said, “Just look at the results Brentford have done this season. It has been so tight. They are exceptional at what they do and that’s why the game we played was perfect today”.

Summing Up

Yes, we lost but yet again, I can honestly say that even losing, it was a match that had everything and yet again as in the Chelsea match, I’ve never been prouder to be a Brentford fan. The boys gave their all against a team which, according to a stat I saw yesterday, cost 10x more than them and is earning a combined total of over 10x more. I’m very tempted to invoke a certain former captain’s words but I won’t.

If you’d told me at the beginning of the season that by the New Year we’d be on 20 points and only lost at home by a 1 goal winning margin I’d have called for a strait jacket. This is such a trip and one that I’m so happy to be here for. Happy New Year Fellow Bees and onto Villa on Sunday.

Sara Loewenthal