Brentford's Struggles Offensive and Defensive Woes Near Relegation Zone
Adrian Clarke delves into the struggles facing Brentford, currently hovering just three points above the Premier League relegation zone. Their decline is evident in both offensive and defensive aspects.
Offensively, Brentford's key attackers, including Yoane Wissa, Neal Maupay, Keane Lewis-Potter, and the sidelined Bryan Mbeumo, have collectively managed only five goals in the last eight matches. This lack of goal-scoring prowess, averaging 0.87 goals per match, is a stark contrast to their earlier form, where they averaged 1.72 goals in the opening 11 contests. Individual performances have dwindled, contributing to a significant shortfall of 5.65 goals compared to their Expected Goals (xG) tally.
The defensive lapses, particularly in conceding goals from far-post headers, pose a substantial concern. Injuries to first-choice full-backs forced midfielders Saman Ghoddos and Vitaly Janelt into these positions, exposing Brentford's vulnerability. Opponents like Arsenal, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, and Brighton have capitalized on this weakness. The last eight matches witnessed a rise in goals conceded per match from 1.27 to 2.12, indicating defensive struggles.
Various factors, including personnel changes, lapses in concentration, communication breakdowns, and failure to track runners, have led to an increase in headed shots conceded. Brentford must urgently address these defensive issues to avoid being dragged into a relegation battle.
The return of key players Ivan Toney, Ben Mee, and Kristoffer Ajer provides hope for stability. Their stature and leadership qualities are expected to fortify Brentford's defense. Manager Thomas Frank's tactical shift to a 3-5-2 formation against Crystal Palace underscores his concerns about the team's defensive vulnerability.
As Brentford prepares to face Nottingham Forest, currently one point above them, in their upcoming Premier League match, rediscovering their aggressive and powerful identity is crucial to steer clear of relegation troubles in the second half of the season.