Back from the break with a trip to Brentford
The second international break is done and dusted and it’s back to Premier League football tomorrow with the Clarets on the road at Brentford to take on a team that, like us, has won just once this season.
Much has been said of our home programme so far with games against Manchester City, Aston Villa, Spurs, Manchester United and Chelsea. Yes it’s been tough, but no points from five games is not what we were hoping for.
Thankfully, there have been points in our three games on the road so far, three of them with a draw at Nottingham Forest in our first away fixture and then, after a defeat at Newcastle, a win at Luton. That’s left us with four points from our opening three away games and I’m sure we’d have been pleased with that, a total bettered only once in our Premier League seasons, that in 2017/18 when we won five points in the first three away games.
That’s going to need to continue with our next two games away from Turf Moor and it would be encouraging if we could climb out of the bottom three before Crystal Palace come to the Turf in a couple of weeks for our next home game.
Josh Brownhill, who has been captaining the side since winning back his place, spoke about our start. “We’ve had a really tough start to the season,” he said. “We’ve played probably the top eight, a lot of them. We’ve played Nottingham Forest and Luton where we put on good performances, could have got more at Forest. We beat Luton, it was a high pressure game for us.
Brownhill was used as a substitute in two of our first three Premier League games this season but came in for his first start at Nottingham Forest and has been in the team ever since. It’s a team that had six ever presents prior to the last game against Chelsea but Connor Roberts, Luca Koleosho and Zeki Amdouni found themselves on the bench for that game so we go to Brentford with just James Trafford, Ameen Al-Dakhil and Josh Cullen having started all eight games.
Of those, Al-Dakhil is a doubt having suffered a hamstring injury against Chelsea that forced him off at half time. It will be interesting to see how we line up defensively if he’s not fit given that we are already without Hjalmar Ekdal and Jordan Beyer. Ekdal is on his way back and, thankfully, both of their injuries were not as bad as first feared.
The three left out for the Chelsea game were, according to Vincent Kompany, due to the volume of games. Now we’ve had a break although a good number of our players have been on international duty but, as always, there will be no prediction on what our team might be but the manager did hint that some of those who have been out injured recently could be ready to return.
Last time out, against Chelsea, it was: James Trafford, Vitinho, Ameen Al-Dakhil, Hannes Delcroix, Charlie Taylor, Josh Cullen, Sander Berge, Mike Trésor, Josh Brownhill, Wilson Odobert, Lyle Foster. Subs: Arijanet Muric, Connor Roberts, Dara O’Shea, Jack Cork, Aaron Ramsey, Luca Koleosho, Jacob Bruun Larsen, Zeki Amdouni, Jay Rodriguez.
Brentford are now into their third Premier League season. They ended the first of them in thirteenth place with 46 points, some achievement given they were everyone’s favourites for relegation when the season kicked off.
When the season moved into March, they looked in trouble. They were only three points ahead of us and we had two games in hand, but then a run of seven wins from ten games took them well clear. Had they beaten Leeds on the final day, a result we needed from them, they’d have ended the season two places higher in eleventh.
I don’t think many thought they could improve on that but they did in no uncertain terms. Last season ended with them in ninth place with 59 points and one more win would have seen them climbing into the European places.
Brentford could have two former Burnley defenders in their team tomorrow. Nathan Collins, who joined them from Wolves in the summer, and he’s played in every game so far this season. He could be joined by Ben Mee who has had a more difficult season. He missed the start with one injury, came in and played twice before dropping out with a muscle injury.
Thomas Frank said today: “Ben Mee is getting closer, which is positive. He could be available for selection. It’s still only four weeks after his injury, but he’s been training with the team.”
Frank also confirmed that goalkeeper Mark Flekken is fit having been out since mid-September with appendicitis but the game comes too early for any of Shandon Baptiste, Myles Peart-Harris, Josh Dasilva, Mikkel Damsgaard and Keane Lewis-Potter. They are also, of course, without goalscorer Ivan Toney who continues his suspension brought about by his betting.
Brentford’s last game was a 2-1 defeat against Manchester United at Old Trafford where they led through a Mathias Jensen goal on 26 minutes until conceding twice in stoppage time. Their team for that game was: Thomas Strakosha, Kristoffer Ajer, Ethan Pinnock, Nathan Collins, Mads Roerslev, Mathias Jensen, Chrisian Nørgaard, Vitaly Janelt, Aaron Hickey, Bryan Mbeumo, Yoane Wissa. Subs: Ellery Balcombe, Mathias Jorgensen, Saman Ghoddos, Frank Onyeka, Yehor Yarmolyuk, Ji-soo Kim, Michael Olakigbe, Ethan Brierley, Neal Maupay.
LAST TIME WE WERE THERE
Tomorrow will be our second visit to Brentford’s new stadium. The previous visit in March of last year was a key game. Brentford were still just six points ahead of us in the table and we still had two games in hand. If we could win this one then it would lift us out of the bottom three and bring them right back into the equation.
We were beaten 2-0 but it was a game that we really shouldn’t have lost against a team as poor as any we’d played all season.
Generally, we were the better side in the first half but it was Brentford who came closest to breaking the deadlock right on half time. Dwight McNeil had our best effort but somehow he failed to score with a very strange attempt at heading home.
Games can have turning points and in the second half, substitute Jay Rodriguez hit a superb shot from fully 35-yards which smashed against the bar and back into play. Had that gone in, and we’d have gone on to win the game, the whole season could have been different.
Behind and there simply was no response from Burnley and four minutes into stoppage time, Brentford scored again. Nathan Collins gave away a penalty, found himself the first Burnley player to be sent off in over three years and Toney scored from the spot.
Brentford were on their way to safety. We were still right in there in the bottom three and struggling.
The teams were;
Brentford: David Raya, Kristoffer Ajar, Pontus Jansson, Ethan Pinnock, Rico Henry, Bryan Mbeumo (Frank Onjeka 90+1), Vitaly Janelt, Christian Nørgaard (Mathias Jensen 81), Christian Eriksen, Sergi Canós (Yoane Wissa 75), Ivan Toney. Subs not used: Jonas Lössl, Saman Ghoddos, Mathias Jorgensen, Shandon Baptiste, Mads Bech Sórensen, Mads Roerslev.
Burnley: Nick Pope, Connor Roberts, Nathan Collins, James Tarkowski, Charlie Taylor, Aaron Lennon, Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Dwight McNeil, Wout Weghorst (Jay Rodriguez 67), Maxwel Cornet. Subs not used: Wayne Hennessey, Matt Lowton, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Bobby Thomas, Dale Stephens, Jack Cork, Ashley Barnes.Follow UpTheClarets:
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