Brentford – Match Report vs West Bromwich Albion 26/06/2020

Griffin Park played host to a top of the table clash that has major implications on the Championship’s automatic promotion places. The Bees ran out 1-0 winners in what was a tightly fought affair, with a well-worked team goal finished off by Ollie Watkins being the difference between the two.

Thomas Frank’s side lined up in a 4-3-3, with Christian Norgaard anchoring a midfield pairing of Josh DaSilva and Emiliano Marcondes. Ollie Watkins lead the line for Brentford being supported by Said Benrahma and Tarique Fosu. The West London side looked to press West Brom high up the pitch, attempting to either force them to play long balls or regain possession close to the Baggies goal. When Brentford had the ball they looked to fill the box with 4 or 5 players trying to get into goalscoring positions.

A key section of the Brentford build up was the fluidity of the left side, with Josh DaSilva dropping into the left back position to receive the ball, while Rico Henry overlapping the narrow Said Benrahma. These positions interchanged throughout the game and worked well to create many opportunities for the Bees.

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, rewatch
  • D – Below average in this match

Ollie Watkins

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: English
  • Age: 24
  • Date of birth: 30/12/1995
  • Current Club: Brentford
  • Career: Exeter City, Weston Super-Mare (L), Brentford
  • Position: Centre Forward
  • Secondary Positions: Left Wing, Right Wing
  • Preferred foot: Right

Ollie Watkins showcased a lot of his top qualities in this match by leading the line throughout, bringing teammates into play, making runs in behind, as well as putting himself about defensively. The first thing that struck me about Watkins was his incredible work rate when Brentford were out of possession, constantly harassing the West Brom backline and physically testing Ajayi and Hegazi time and time again.

To partner his physicality off the ball, Watkins uses his body well when in possession of the ball. Using his strength to hold the ball up before setting the ball of to a teammate, or to roll a defender then bursting into the open space. Standing at 5’11”, Watkins is no slouch in the air either, proving to be a real problem for the Baggies at set pieces.

A key part of Watkins’ play style is his unpredictability off the ball. He would sometimes drop deeper to link play between the midfield and winger, before spinning in behind looking to run the channels. He would often drift into wide areas to overload a full back, or using the movement to mask a diagonal run in behind the defence. This movement played a key part in Watkins’ goal, using a number of short sharp movements to put himself in a position to tap in a scuffed Josh DaSilva shot on the goal-line. It was his 23rd goal of the season making him the joint top goalscorer in the Championship at the time.

All in all, Watkins put in a performance of the highest order. His performance highlighted further why rumours are rife of a move away from Griffin Park should Brentford fail to reach the Premier League.

Rating – A1

Josh Dasilva

Player Profile:

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

In what was a mixed bag of a performance for DaSilva, he showed glimpses of a quality player. Being deployed as a left central midfielder in the first half, tasked with linking the play between Rico Henry and Said Benrahma as well as covering for the marauding fullback. In the second half Dasilva was moved to a right central midfield berth with a view to playing a more advanced role, looking to contribute to the attack more directly in comparison to the first half.

A key quality that was the making of the youngster’s performance was his ability to carry the ball. Using a mix of explosive pace as well as good upper body strength to burst past players into advanced areas. It is not a feat of pure athleticism however, as in the second half he exhibited excellent technical ability and close control.

Dasilva played a key part in the game-winning goal for Brentford. By using a quick burst of space to pull away from a West Brom midfielder to create space for himself then playing a one-two with Benrahma before a scuffed shot turned into an assist for Ollie Watkins.

There were downsides to Dasilva’s performance, he found himself on the end of good shooting opportunities only for him to scuff the shots, making poor contact on each shot. It seems a technique issue as the same issue kept arising, with Dasilva regularly dragging his shots to the right, seemingly hitting the ball with the inside of his foot instead of the laces. Another small area of improvement for the youngster is his distribution with his weaker right foot. Time and again his passes were either under-hit or bobbly and misdirected. I think with time this will eventually be corrected through coaching so should not be a long term issue.

Overall a decent performance from DaSilva, showing that he could play a key part of the future of the Brentford midfield whether that is in the first tier or not.

Rating – A2

Rico Henry

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: English
  • Age: 22
  • Date of birth: 08/07/1997
  • Current Club: Brentford
  • Career: Walsall, Brentford
  • Position: Left Back
  • Preferred foot: Left

Henry was a top performer in Brentford’s victory over West Brom, dominating the left flank alongside Benrahma and DaSilva. The link up play between the trio was key in creating numerous chances for the Bees.

The standout quality for Henry is his athleticism, being able to pair explosive pace with an incredible engine. Throughout the 90 minutes, Henry would make lung-bursting overlaps over and over again, often leaving his defender for dead putting himself in a position to deliver into the box. Along with this, Henry consistently won his aerial duels even against players that are considerably taller than him, only standing at 5 foot 7 tall.

With Henry being such a high-octane player, it highlights where he needs to improve. With everything happening at 100 miles an hour, Henry lacked the ability to compose himself at key moments. When building up play, it would seem his mind is more set on his marauding run in behind than the quality of pass into the midfielder, often misplacing the first pass. Another downside was Henry’s inconsistent end product in wide areas, as it seemed that he would not compose himself before crossing into the box often leading to overhit or inaccurate crosses.

Overall Henry showed a lot of potential to be a top modern full back, once he is able to slow himself down before passing or crossing and focus on his final ball it could see him take the eyes of a top level club.

Rating – A2

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