Were The Bees outfoxed by Leicester City, or did we simply pay the price, for the second week running, for not taking the chances that came our way in an otherwise pretty even Premiership clash in West London? Beesotted’s Lewis Holmes gives us his thoughts on the match.
The last game of our trickiest ‘on paper’ run was always going to be a nightmare to navigate. Leicester have had our number in recent cup meetings, and they’ve got into the groove at just the wrong time for Thomas Frank and the boys. At the start of the season, I had this little run from Liverpool to Leicester down as a total blank – zero points from four games. But then *that* night against Liverpool happened down at Lionel Road, quickly followed by an incredible smash and grab out in East London, and as we all know, success makes you greedy for more. I walked into the ground this afternoon thinking a draw was the bare minimum.
But it wasn’t to be. Leicester have quality across the park, and as an established Premier League side they know how to see out results. You definitely would’ve preferred to play them a few weeks back before they clicked, we only had 14 minutes on the clock before Youri Tielmans whacked home an unstoppable thunderbastard of a strike. David Raya is a tremendous keeper but Jesus Christ himself couldn’t have kept that one out.
Premier League Brentford is a rather different beast to what’s gone before, though, and it wasn’t so much a case of if we scored rather than when we scored. Matthias Jensen floated in a peach of a corner – one that should give his critics pause – that Zanka met like he was magnetically attracted to it, flicking the ball effortlessly into Kaspar Schmeichel’s net. At that point it felt like game on for the Bees.
Unfortunately though, Leicester had other ideas. For all the probing and pushing, Brentford were undone by an accomplished, established side. Attack became frantic defence on 73 minutes as Leicester stepped on the gas and scored a devastating goal on the counter, panto villain James Maddison burying his first goal in eons. The Bees piled forward but it was all for nought, Leicester snatched the win and leapfrogged us in the table. A hard pill to swallow, but after nicking points off West Ham in their own back yard this felt like a bit of a reality check: welcome to the Premier League, where they’ll punish your slightest misstep, But hey, we have some sweet fixtures coming up to help that medicine go down.And it could be worse – we could be Man United supporters…!
Best Bees performers
At this point in time, Ivan Toney, Rico Henry and David Raya almost offer the Beesotted team a free shot at goal for this section; all three men were imperious today, even in defeat. Toney was a man possessed, bustling absolutely everywhere in an attempt to create something in Leicester’s half. Rico not only created several gilt edged chances, but also shut Leicester attacks down when called upon. David Raya is quietly staking his claim for most underrated keeper in the league, opening the second half with a gobstopping save followed by some silky skills outside his own penalty area. Incredible.
But it wasn’t only the A-listers who shone today, we were treated to a tremendous team performance all round. The midfield trifecta of Onyeka, Norgaard and Jensen seemed to click really well – far better than any other game I can think of – and energy levels only really dropped when Onyeka was hooked on 75 minutes. It was encouraging to see Jensen step up and complete a full 90 in the midfield role; with Vitaly Janelt still to come back from injury, competition and options in midfield will be crucial as we move into a congested winter.
A brief word on Bryan Mbuemo. Leaving the ground, I heard several people lamenting his finishing and trotting out ‘what if’ scenarios where he and Toney magically swapped places. It’s really simple: if Toney and Mbuemo switched roles those chances would not present themselves: Toney’s vision and skill creates options for Mbuemo with his pace and directness, it does not work the other way around. When Bryan Mbuemo gets his eye in – and he will – this pairing will be devastating.
Room for improvement
Ugh, can I use this section to whinge about the ref? Apparently completely blind to the time wasting antics of several Leicester players; he seemed so enamoured with Kaspar Schmeichel that there was more chance of me getting a yellow than there was the keeper, despite his slow mosey at every single goal kick. There’s no point pointing at your watch for the fifth time, get your cards out and stamp your authority on the game. I’m sure fans of West Ham and Wolves will read this and think ‘cry more, lol’ or something equally reductive, but all we want as fans is consistency and Simon Hooper showed precious little of that today – he was more like a WWF referee than a professional football one, that’s how blind he was to the shenanigans.
The West Stand songsmiths were in fine form today, busting out “Just a shit Peter Schmeichel” and “Jamie Vardy, your wife is a snitch” in the first 15 minutes. Also great to hear the Ivan Toney/Baccara chant catching on, that one is a peach!
Like I said at the top, I expected nothing from this game but the performances against Liverpool and West Ham probably made me – or rather, us – a little greedy. So this was a result that brought us back down to earth with a bump: you switch off in this league and you’ll get punished. We are in a better position than most of us probably hoped for, but back to back losses is not a good look for anybody. But we have a favourable run of games coming up, so time to regroup and focus on bringing the points home. Up the f’in Bees!