Friday night was another special evening of football at the Brentford Community Stadium and due to COVID both teams subsequent games have been called off. I was lucky enough to be in attendance and these are my five takeaways from the game:
- Ivan who? – Since Ivan Toney contracted COVID his team have earned four points which could have quite easily been six if they had not conceded so late against Leeds. Most views on the Bamford equaliser were that Ivan would have prevented it due to his immense defending at corners, I disagree Leeds had thrown so many players forward it caused mismatches and confusion. Friday night was less fluid in attack at times than the previous game which showed that Toney was maybe not missed at Elland Road because it threw the home teams plans into disarray. The game plan was Ivan and they ended up with the pacy Canos. Watford’s defenders struggled with the pace and movement of Wissa and Mbuemo but they contained it by staying compact, the goals came from non stop peppering of the away sides goal but it was plain to see if Toney was there goals may have came sooner. His impact outside of the box makes the team tick which affects his touches inside at times, they can be being minimal e.g the Everton game his only touch in the box was the penalty. Friday’s game would have been a great opportunity for him to occupy the 18 yard box more than he has done, the flanks were well manned by Roeslev and Henry with Baptiste or Jensen joining in quite frequently. The naked eye would think Ivan Toney has not been missed but it’s not the case and on a positive note watching games may show him what he needs to do more when he returns.
- Watford’s Vast Spectrum of Players – Emmanuel Dennis and Josh King always looked threatening at the Community Stadium, the goals scored this season show it wasn’t just Friday night that they are the danger men for the promoted side. Thankfully Sarr was not available as his pace would have caused major concerns for the pedestrian Brentford backline. The issue going forward for Watford in the battle to survive will be the vast difference in quality, players like Kiko Femenia, Juraj Kucka and William Troost-Ekong are bad, really bad. I cannot see how they would even get game time at many Championship sides? Even established names like Cleverley or Sissoko proved their best days are well behind them and worst still they did not use any experience they may hold to support teammates during the tidal wave of pressure. Anyone brought in this January will need to hit the ground running, strong in character and better defensively than they already have.
- Charlie Goode – Signed last summer from Northampton Town the giant ball playing League 2 defender has barely kicked the ball for Brentford and when he did last term out of his depth seemed the best way to describe him. With injuries striking The Bees back three, rather than being earned it was need why he got a playing spot. His first few minutes of PL action caused a penalty when playing against Norwich but since that game he has improved every match culminating in his best game Friday night. What the future holds is unsure as over the next month injured defenders will return and it’s widely expected Brentford will bring in a few new players during January. At least now with some admirable top flight minutes under his belt if he was to move on a fee larger than what was paid initially could occur.
- The Community Stadium – Brentford’s new stadium has seen a few defeats but bar the early season one to Brighton the atmosphere has been electric and every team which has visited can vouch they had a battle on & off the pitch. Thomas Frank lines up his side cautiously but as the game goes bar will throw caution to the wind if needs be. The fans in the stands do their bit singing and chanting from 30 mins before the game to long after it finishes, this is a club who’ve earned their way from League 2 to the Premier League. The fan base remember the bad times and the club has done so well building a stadium which just about catered for them in the Championship, the capacity is small but means only fans are there rather than tourists. If you get a chance to attend a game there, do it you won’t regret it. Watford at a lot of grounds may have seen this one through even though they defended shamefully and could not retain the ball, the home fans drove the team on and maybe even affected the away teams performances with it being so rowdy?
- Jamie Carragher – On a lighter note when I was leaving the stadium during the players lap of honour I was able to witness Jamie Carragher having left the commentary position try and join his presenting colleagues Kelly Coates and Gary Neville. Many fans recognised him as we left but the stewards monitoring the turnstiles and roller doors which had opened for the masses to leave did not, as Carragher ran through they attempted to stop him to near on comical effect till a Brentford employee vouched for the Sky pundit.
Hopefully the COVID outbreak does not cause severe illness at Watford and they can back to normal as soon as possible. Brentford will hope they can get back to playing after the dodgy postponement of their match with Manchester Utd this past week.
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