Beesotted contributors The Gowler and Paul Kowalczyk (@BeesBreakdown) give us the tactical and statistical lowdown of Brentford’s win against Tottenham.
Thomas Frank shocked some when the announced lineup suggested Brentford would start in a 4-3-3. Brentford have only come out in a 5-3-2 against Big 6 clubs this season. Thomas Frank has also been conservative away from home, using a 5-3-2 away at Leeds earlier this season. Brentford came out with their typical back 4 of Henry, Mee, Pinnock, and Hickey. The midfield trio consisted of Jensen, Janelt, and Onyeka. The front 3 was Schade, Wissa, and Mbeumo.
Spurs have gone back and forth with a back 3 or back 4 plenty this season. Ryan Mason chose a back 4 against the Bees, using Emerson, Sanchez, Lenglet, and Davies. Spurs started in a 4-4-2 with Danjuma and Son the wide midfielders, joined by Bissouma and Skipp in the middle. Kane and Kulusevski led the line for Tottenham, with the pair dropping deep to receive the ball.
Possession: Tottenham 62% – 38% Brentford
xG: Tottenham 1.8 – 1.3 Brentford
Post Shot xG: Tottenham 1.48 – 2.11 Brentford
Shots: Tottenham 22 – 11 Brentford
Clearances: Tottenham 14 – 20 Brentford
Other Brentford stats:
Aerial duels won: 18 (41%)
Spurs are mid table (10th) for average possession per game, so Thomas Frank saw an opportunity to hold a bit more possession. Brentford started the match with a balanced approach of building out of the back when Tottenham would bring pressure and also hitting direct long balls to Schade running in-behind.
Brentford’s tactics were surprising considering the competition. Thomas Frank typically sticks with a more conservative approach when facing “Big 6” sides. Starting out in a 4-3-3 and then subbing on Damsgaard at the half was instrumental in Brentford’s success.
Some concern may have started to creep into some fan’s minds when Brentford’s dead ball situations weren’t finding success. On multiple long throw situations Brentford were able to win the initial header to send the ball across the face of goal, but no player was able to get on the end of it to put a shot on goal. It’s clear Brentford were missing Toney in these specific instances, but they still have a lot of other options and can score in a variety of ways.
Brentford had some simple errors in the first half that gifted Spurs chances. The Bees were troubled by Forster’s quick distribution and missteps by Brentford’s rest defence were concerning at times.
In the first half Brentford did a decent job shadowing Kane and Kulusevski, but after a few miscues Spurs were easily able to progress the ball and test Brentford’s backline. Thomas Frank made a second half adjustment of pressuring Kane when he came to receive the ball which was crucial in preventing Spurs from progressing the ball.
David Raya was once again extraordinary, not only with his 6 saves, but with his passing. Raya was 18/18 on medium passes helping Brentford build out of the back by bypassing Tottenham’s press. Bryan Mbeumo is the obvious choice for man of the match with his brace and assist. Mbeumo’s xG was only 0.4 and his finishing was very impressive on Saturday. Aaron Hickey also had a strong showing and has really improved throughout the season to become a vital part of the squad.
To a casual fan, a quick glance at the xG for the match may result in thinking Tottenham should’ve won since their xG was 0.5 higher than Brentford’s. This is a bit misleading because the Post Shot xG indicates that Brentford made the most of their chances with 2.11 PSxG while Tottenham had 1.48 PSxG. Also in the 8 minutes of added time, Spurs had 8 shots amounting to 0.67 xG after Wissa’s goal. This is why simply glancing at xG can be a bit deceptive to how things truly unfolded on the pitch.