Brentford v Manchester City – Five Takeaways

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2021 has been a great year for both teams, City winning another Premier League plus making it to the Champions League Final while Brentford secured their first promotion to the PL. With so many players out injured for the hosts many predicted a potential cricket score.

1) POSSESSION POSSESSION POSSESSION – Man City was always going to hold onto the ball for long periods, it’s what they do but it was interesting how Brentford defended. Totally against their normal style they sat very deep and allowed the City backline to play with the ball, no pressing whatsoever in the final third. This tactic can only work if the players show a high level of passion when competing for the ball whether it be in the tackle or the block.

2) KDB MASTER CLASS – Phil Foden has collected the plaudits from last nights game but it was the maestro De Bruyne who was the main man at The Brentford Community Stadium. Silva, Grealish and Jesus were very quiet in the main being nullified by their opposing marker but the Belgian was everywhere keeping the ball ticking and flicking at all times. Early on he broke at the home sides defence from the halfway line and nearly created a goal. What surprised me was his pace, faster than expected which coupled with his amazing ball skill meant he never broke stride while heading towards goal. City’s set pieces were always more dangerous when he took them, Foden very wasteful with one corner in particular during the second half never entering the pitch!

3) ETHAN PINNOCK – The man mountain is the best and most influential defender at Brentford, just a few years ago he was playing non league football for Dulwich Hamlet but as he’s rose through the domestic divisions at each team so has his stock. Every level up he has excelled at from Forest Green in L2, Barnsley in L1 and Brentford in The Championship and Premier League. Due to injuries the left footer is playing on the right side of the defence but he continues to perform at his high standards. Against City he squashed whoever he came across and without a doubt I can see him playing for a club like City in the future if they came knocking, for god’s sake Nathan Ake plays for the Champions.

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4) CITY NEED A STRIKER – We all know it but last nights game emphasised it as much as ever. They keep the ball for fun and can afford like this game to play a false nine but you have to wonder with a focal point centrally what might have happened? Quite a lot of strikers these days either do not press or drop deep for the ball but this creates openings for clever runs by others as defenders tactics will be altered compared to knowing their is no no9, who do they follow when marking? By all accounts no one will be brought in during the upcoming transfer window but to enable City to win the Champions League their is a few players who could join and assist in the form of Arsenals Lacazette or Aubameyang. Both are not European cup tied and either about to leave via Bosman or not wanted anymore. Purely speculation but surely if offered to them you could not say no.

5) NO CARDS – On seeing the stat no yellows or reds were brandished I would not blame you in thinking this was a clean game managed well by David Coote, think again this was another poor officiating performance by one of the so called elite refs operating in the Premier League. Too many challenges went punished when the contact was minimal at most, it felt like a netball match at times. City dominated possession and defiantly did not need more opportunities to score with dangerous set piece positions. Foden especially found it hard to stay on his feet while Grealish was looking to get a man in red and white stripes carded rather than operate with the ball. If you read the BBC Sport write up it will mention Ivan Toney stamped on Fernandinho in the first half, it wasn’t’t like that at all. They challenged for the ball the Brazilian went down and as Toney stood above him he reacted like a Oscar nominee who’s been shot. The BBC do not mention the shove moments earlier around the half way line between the two.

Both teams go onto testing games to kick off 2022, both being shown on TV. Without Arteta can Arsenal beat the champs and how about the bees actually scoring and halting this three game barren spell against Villa.