Beesotted’s Charlie Briggs (@charliebriggs99) put his hand up for this week’s Beesotted Post Match Debrief.
Most Bees fans will see coming away from two Premier League outings with four points and two clean sheets as overwhelmingly positive. Yesterday was one of the more entertaining 0-0 bouts that I have seen for some time, with a lot of midfield battling and an end to end tempo which enabled a free flowing game and provided a great atmosphere in the stadium.
As was the case against Arsenal, Brentford grew into the game as the first half went on and after a close shave with Connor Gallagher hitting the bar, the Bees managed to reduce Palace to a minority of fairly small chances. The defensive unit controlled the threat of wide man Wilfried Zaha and refused to allow Benteke to dominate aerially, which meant that Palace were rather limited going forwards.
In addition to our sturdy defensive performance, we looked dangerous on the break at times and managed to compete very well in an incredibly physical midfield battle. Onyeka, Vitaly and Christan were incredibly energetic in the midfield contributing defensively and then also providing a springboard for fast breaks with lots of interceptions and quick forward passes.
As always, the Bees looked at our most dangerous from set pieces, with Toney winning a few headers from corners in the second half which, on another day, would have seen us take the lead. Bryan Mbeumo also grazed the bar from a wicked free kick in the first half just in front of the Holmesdale End.
I do think Brentford at times lacked their cutting edge going forwards but Palace also defended very well and didn’t allow Toney and Mbeumo to cause the devastation that they did against Arsenal. We also saw a brief cameo from new signing Yoane Wissa who struggled to get into the game but looked really bright when he did manage to get onto the ball.
Away to Palace is a fixture that many teams larger than us have struggled to come away with anything so I don’t think we can be at all disheartened with a draw.
There was a notable step up in tempo from many of the Championship away days that I attended and I think our inexperienced squad dealt with the fast pace really well. We also weren’t intimidated (unlike the mighty Arsenal) by the buzz of a full capacity stadium and didn’t really allow the home fans to have any major impact on the game.
I also agree with the view of Thomas Frank who hinted that he thought we were unlucky to not come away with all three points.
Best Bees Performers
I am starting to run out of words to describe Vitaly Janelt. He’s immense. Yesterday he put in an industrious performance in which he survived a clash of heads with Kouyate and was rewarded with a great reception from the travelling support when he was subbed off. I thought he was our standout midfielder yesterday with his interceptions, hard hitting tackles and his pressing which I think really limited Palace.
It does feel slightly unfair as Norgaard and Frank ‘The Tank’ Onyeka also put in brilliant performances but for me Vitaly slightly edged it. For such a young man playing in this division with no top level experience he has such assuredness about his play. Vitaly always offered Raya an option and wasn’t worried about receiving the ball facing his own goal despite often being pressed by a couple of Palace players. The Brentford fans also treated Vitaly to a few renditions of his chant which I think helps to show quite how impressive he was yesterday.
Next up is Kristoffer Ajer who I thought really showed his worth particularly in his battles with Zaha. When Ajer was announced as a signing, I’m sure we all saw the tweets from Celtic fans saying that we had bought in a defender that can’t defend. But yesterday he proved this completely wrong.
He won a large amount of aerial duels and somehow didn’t allow Zaha to beat him for pace on too many occasions. There were a number of times when Zaha picked up the ball out on the left and Ajer followed him down the line before putting in a perfectly timed slide tackle. Ajer and Canos are building quite a nice Right Centre Back and Right Wing Back partnership and I think they complement each other well both going forwards and in defence. Ajer also had one moment of taking the ball out of defence and spraying a lovely pass out to Rico showing the other side of his game.
I think Ajer showed his quality yesterday and – alongside Pinnock and Jansson – our defence reduced Palace to a very small amount of chances with Connor Gallagher having the biggest chance of the match with 30% chance of similar chances hitting the back of the net.
Finally, I think David Raya was absolutely fantastic yesterday. Aside from the Connor Gallagher scare in the opening minutes, Raya stopped everything that came his way. Palace are a big team and from set pieces Raya commanded his box coming out to claim free kicks and corners with ease. He must have made about three saves just from Gallagher alone and looked really comfortable throughout the match.
I think giving the goalkeeper a mention always makes it seem that he was really busy, which he wasn’t, but he stepped up whenever required. And how could I talk about David Raya’s performance without mentioning his champagne moment, an absolutely fantastic fingertip save after a cracking long distance effort from Palace midfielder James MacArthur. Raya has looked fantastic in both games so far and hopefully his fine form continues.
Room for Improvement
The only real issue with Brentford yesterday was being the inability to put the ball in the back of the net. Toney had a few chances from set pieces which having seen back on Match Of The Day [blink and you’ll miss us] he perhaps should have taken but, in all fairness, they were not clear cut. We had fourteen shots on goal to Palace’s seven, but we only managed to have three on target, which isn’t a fantastic conversion rate – which Will Allsop will no doubt cover in his Spreadsheet Winker section in this week’s Villa preview podcast.
There was a slight lack of the cutting edge that we have come to know and love from this Brentford side in the final third, but we did create a few chances and as I mentioned earlier, I do think Palace defended really well. Our attacking force did however have very good games.
Mbeumo linked up beautifully with Canos down the right side on a few occasions and he has looked so dangerous in both of his Premier League outings with his pace in behind. His free kick that hit the bar was also a stupendous effort which would have had a place on the goal of the month reel if it had a tiny bit more dip.
Toney was also a menace for the Palace defence particularly from set pieces but also had a few pop shots from open play with one going narrowly wide. So I do think that maybe we could be a little bit more clinical and creative in front of goal. But I don’t think we failed to create any chances against Palace, which would be far more worrying.
Yesterday was my first-ever trip to Selhurst Park and I was expecting big things. As the teams came out there was a sight of red and blue flags being waved across the stadium, which I will admit, I thought looked rather good. It’s not an overly Brentford thing to do but I could understand its charm and thought it worked well for the home fans. Throughout the game you could see the Holmesdale Fanatics bouncing up and down and chanting, whilst hitting their ever so controversial drum which naturally the travelling bees fans pointed out isn’t necessary to build a good atmosphere. But I must admit I was expecting slightly more from the Palace fans.
Don’t get me wrong, they were good and loud but I think I was almost expecting a Dortmund style yellow wall of constant noise which was definitely not the case, but this may be more on me than the Palace fans. There was also one turtleneck adorning Palace fan just to the right of the away fans that put on quite the performance. He attempted to take on the entire away end taking off his jacket and even at one stage performing a cutthroat gesture towards the travelling fans, but this was perhaps him just trying to tell the stewards that he couldn’t breathe in his turtleneck and needed it to be loosened.
Overall I thought the Palace fans were good and helped to contribute to a fantastic atmosphere during a 0-0 draw.
I thought that the away support was as ever fantastic. Thomas Frank clearly agreed as at the end of the game he came over and bowed towards the away section which I must admit made me feel brilliant. I do wonder if Thomas is going to take time in every post-match interview to say how great the away fans were, but I for one hope that he does as it’s nice to get some recognition from the main man. There was a nice combination of chants yesterday with both Vitaly’s and Sergi’s making a few appearances whilst the away end also belted out Hey Jude a couple of times.
It’s a proper old school stadium so I do feel sorry for the Bees fans who were stuck in row 50 only able to see about one third of the pitch but I suppose that is the nature of some of these old grounds. There was the new Premier League feature of not being able to head into most pubs as they are dedicated “home pubs” which can cause some issues but I trust most Bees fans managed to find a beverage prior to kick-off somewhere. Everyone remained standing throughout the match and it was a great atmosphere. Just a shame we didn’t have a goal to celebrate!
I think we can all look back on our first “Premier League” away day in 74 years as a successful one. Whilst we struggled to put the ball in the back of the net, we showed just how competitive we are going to be this season and none of the Bees players were overawed by the occasion of the first game back at Selhurst for the Palace fans.
Whilst Ajer, Raya and Vitaly played starring roles, it would be unjust to say that anyone had a bad game and we look like a team with a real style and energy about it which will go a long way this season. The away support was fantastic and it was a great occasion.
Thomas in his post-match interview inferred that we were the better team and could have come away with more which is hard to disagree with.
A great away debut for the Bees.