Brentford – Match Report VS Fulham 20/06/20

This is a guest piece by Sam Hill.

It was a huge derby matchup at Craven Cottage as fourth place Brentford beat third place Fulham 2-0 in the Championships return to action. Said Benrahma played a big part in both goals, finishing one-off and assisting the other as a fairly dull game ended with a flurry. There weren’t very many clear cut chances as it was obvious both teams were rusty after the lengthy break. For the most part, it was a fluid 4-3-3 from Brentford which switched late on to a more attacking style. 

Ratings: 

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher 
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher 
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level 
  • B2 – Potential to be strong player at level 
  • C – Average for the level, re-watch 
  • D – Below average in this match 

Said Benrahma

  • Nationality: Algerian 
  • Age: 24 
  • Date of Birth: 10/08/1995 
  • Current Club: Brentford 
  • Career: Nice, Angers (L), Ajaccio(L), Chateauroux (L), Brentford
  • Position: Left Wing 
  • Preferred foot: Right 

It wasn’t Benrahma’s best performance ever but nonetheless, he still managed to affect the match outcome. The Algerian started on the left side on the front 3, but I’m sure if you looked at his heatmap for the match it would be all over the place. He found some really good positions between the lines and was quite positive with the ball. He was able to score the winner and add a lovely assist to finish the game off. 

Physically, it was a tough match for Benrahma, he lacks size and physicality and he didn’t engage in many challenges or 50/50’s. I wouldn’t say he is a periphery player, but in this match specifically, he found it hard to get open space in the middle of the pitch which forced him to stay out wide for much of the match. 

Benrahma’s best aspect of his game is his dribbling, but he had a tough match in that sense. He was fairly direct, but barely anything he tried came off, the tempo of the game was a bit slow and Fulham was able to neutralise his dribbling ability for the most part. His final ball wasn’t great for the majority of the game, but again, he was able to finish the match with a goal and an assist. 

Benrahma’s role in the Brentford team is fairly clear, he is the player they want to funnel the ball through. He was all over the pitch in the final third and he thrives the most when dictating the attack. His link-up play with Ollie Watkins was the most common form of Brentford attack. Both players are so intelligent and have delightful touches, they made it look easy. Benrahma played off of Watkins’s ability to hold the ball and lay it off in a minimal amount of touches and he got into really good areas because of it. 

For the goal, Benrahma’s movement was good, he beat his man to the low cross that came through the box and finished with ease. His assist was a nice over the top ball which was finished by his teammate after some nice work in the box. 

Again, the game wasn’t particularly suited to Benrahma’s style, but he still managed to have a huge impact on the outcome, a sign of a great player. He doesn’t need the ball at all times to make an impact and that is important because it means he can play in teams with a lot of quality players and not be isolated. I hope to see more of Benrahma next year in the top division, whether that is with Brentford or another club is yet to be seen. 

Rating – A1 

Ollie Watkins 

  • Nationality: English 
  • Age: 24 
  • Date of Birth: 30/12/1995 
  • Current Club: Brentford 
  • Career: Exeter City, Weston-super-Mare (L), Brentford
  • Position: Centre Forward 
  • Preferred foot: Right 

I was very impressed by Ollie Watkins’s performance against Fulham. Playing as the centre forward, the joint leading scorer in the Championship has been praised for his finishing ability loads, but that’s not why I was impressed by him. Watkins had a tough day in front of goal, in fact, he only managed one shot which went wayward and a header which he should’ve done better on. However, what his performance today showed me is that he is then just a goalscorer, he is a very well rounded centre forward. 

Watkins is 5’11”, but he did very well in the air and his hold up play was strong. His frame and the way he used his body allowed him to get the space he needed to lay the ball off or knock it down for a teammate. He wasn’t afraid to engage defenders and cause havoc. His decision making when it comes to laying the ball off was always spot on too. 

It’s clear his role for Brentford is to give his midfield an outlet and to link the play. He didn’t make any runs in behind as his strengths are with the ball at his feet or with his back to goal. Watkins’ movement off the ball was intelligent, doing a good job of finding the space in between the two centre backs and always gives his teammates something to aim for. His movement in the box is annoying for defenders and it forces them to always be on their toes. He was always looking to find a spot where his teammates can get the ball to him. He dropped deep very well and used his ability on the ball to beat defenders as well as his pace to play quick 1-2s and get into space. 

There was a lot to like about Watkins in this game. At 24, he is a mature number 9 who can do pretty much everything you want. He has so much more to his game than just goals and he would be an improvement over at least half of the strikers in the Premier League. 

Rating – A1 

Josh Dasilva

  • Nationality: English
  • Age: 21
  • Date of Birth: 23/10/1998
  • Current Club: Brentford 
  • Career: Arsenal (Y), Brentford
  • Position: Centre Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Left 

The 21-year-old played on the left side of the midfield 3 for Brentford, but he too tended to go wherever he pleased when his team was in possession. The former Arsenal youth player was a very fun watch, he’s easy on the eye and has a good combination of power, ability and finesse. 

The left footer is tall and lanky and used his long stride well to glide away from defenders. He was good at protecting the ball, using his long arms to keep defenders at a distance. He’s not very physical and is a bit lightweight and I don’t think adding some weight would be a terrible idea as long as he can keep the same level of pace he has now. 

His performance was more than just a show though, he did some really impressive things for Brentford. Dasilva was crucial to Brentford’s ball progression. His ball carrying ability was on display on multiple occasions in this match. He would pick the ball up in his own half and drive through the midfield into the opponents’ third eventually finding a pass or drawing a foul. The Englishman was versatile, whether it was receiving the ball deep in his own half from his centre half or dropping in between the lines to give his teammate a progressive option, he always knew where to be. 

It was hard for him to really affect the game in the attacking third as there wasn’t much space to exploit. He plays as the most advanced central midfielder and Brentford relied on him to give the attacking trio support. I would’ve liked to see him pick up better positions in and around the 18-yard box. He had one shot from the top right corner of the box that missed high by a few feet. He does have 12 goal contributions for the season, so it could’ve just been an off match in that sense. 

He was fine defensively, his pressing was intense, but he didn’t have much of an impact other than the fact that he picked up a yellow card for a poor challenge. There were times in the match that he tried to do too much and it would put his teams in poor positions in the transition, but nothing came of it. I would’ve also liked to see him pick up better positions in and around the 18-yard box. He had one shot from the top right corner of the box that missed high by a few feet, but he needs to be getting more chances as the most advanced central midfielder. He does have 12 goal contributions for the season, so it could’ve just been an off match in that sense. Lastly, he needs to become stronger on his right side, his lack of strength in his right foot was evident all match. 

Rating – A2 

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