Featured image courtesy of Peter Cziborr for Action Images via Reuters
Norwich ended their 20 game losing streak in the Premier League and 25 game run in London when beating Brentford on Saturday. The Bees are now on a four game losing streak and probably need the international break to heal some injuries and take stock of this current situation. Who are my five takeaways from this clash:
1 – English Fullbacks
Three of the four fullbacks on Saturday come from England, two furthered their reputations while one answered questions why he has not pushed on in his career. Brandon Williams was a constant threat going forward, his runs from deep always seemed to at least result in him probing the final third. Question marks reside in his defending as Bryan Mbuemo especially caused him no end of trouble but the Man Utd loanee showed he has a future in the Premier League, where though is another point.
Rico Henry has been the best fullback in the EFL for the past two seasons, comparisons to Ashley Cole are fair! So far this season he has bubbled under the radar but against Norwich he was one of the standout players ending in a goal, his substitution down to tactics. Left back at England level is hotly contested but if Henry carries this form till the end of the season he will be shaking the door of a Gareth Southgate’s office quite robustly.
Max Aaron’s what has happened to you? His contribution on Saturday was purely shithousery as he showed no quality defending or on the ball, throughout the 90 mins he was pocketed by Henry and any Brentford player who wanted success while attacking. Once he was linked with Bayern Munich, on current form he would be lucky to get any high profile move which would benefit Norwich via a substantial transfer fee. Newcastle Utd with their deep pockets would surely go for the brand while two young progressive players like Williams or Henry would be more viable?
2 – Jarred Gillett
This progressive young ref has taken charge of numerous EFL games but his inexperience at Premier League was massively highlighted this past weekend. So far in two games he has shown 12 yellow cards whilst in four games in the Championship he’s only shown seven which is a much tougher, robust tackling league. What he clearly fell for this weekend again was the constant puffy, dramatic grounding by players from both teams (mainly Norwich). The reason he has been fast tracked via Australia is he’s a good ref but he is still learning the English pace and nuance. Ivan Toney’s booking within ten minutes showed his inexperience, always beckoning to the fans’ calls.
3 – Tim Krul
Welcome back to the Elite Goalkeeper Club Mr Krul! One of the most dependable keepers outside the top six clubs, Krul has suffered with injuries and confidence over the last five years but his form this season despite the ten men in front of him has been top notch and this weekend he was the match winner. Brentford gifted Norwich two goals but Krul denied the Bees at least three with world class saves. A move to a BIGGER club will never occur unless it’s a bench move but however this season ends up he surely should continue playing in the world’s best league. Forceful, dominant and adaptable with the ball at his feet are all elite traits.
4 – Toney’s lack of goals
So far this season last year’s top scorer in the Championship has two Premier goals, he has shone with his all round play but found the net hard to find. Against Norwich his lack of confidence showed massively as when he had opportunities to take a shot on he shied away or fell to the ground looking for a penalty decision. The way it’s going for Brentford they would maybe look for less impact around the final third and more penalty box threat from their main man.
5 – Game management
Thomas Frank has been a success during his spell at Brentford purely down to his commitment in following the clubs’ progressive forward thinking to the game. Saturday was a day when their battered rivals out thought them at all times. Despite being sacked Daniel Farke would have shown other clubs a team he manages can win games at the highest level. Errors were capitalised on and time was wasted at opportune times, this was a well led unit to get the win when needed.
Frank’s substitutions and tactical tweaks did not work, a trait which has occurred so much lately. Brentford need to wise up big time sooner rather than later or these UNLUCKY defeats will continue to pile up. Bringing on Charlie Goode for the injured Zanka cost them a goal when he felled Pukki and his lack of expertise stunted any comeback as he was ultimately pushed forward with five minutes to go but all he achieved was get in the way while being up front. Norgaard ended up going to the back three, surely they could have brought on Onyeka for Zanka and resorting back to their end of season tactic of a ball player in the back three, Goode was wasted a sub.
The Premier League is a cruel mistress and any team regardless of form will beat you if given a sniff.
Both teams have the international break now to review and address matters but on recent form relegation is a major possibility!