Brentford are THE formation flip-floppers!
FEW teams change systems from game to game as seamlessly as Thomas Frank’s Brentford do.
When facing one of the Premier League’s bigger sides this season, they have used 3-5-2. For everyone else, they have used 4-3-3.
It is a pattern to which they have stayed true, switching from a back three to a back four depending on the strength of the opposition.
But the defensive set-up is not the only important distinction between these two systems. It is equally as significant that they either use a front two or a front three.
Unless Frank was sufficiently impressed by West Ham’s Carabao Cup elimination of Arsenal on Wednesday, I expect Brentford will see this as a chance to get at the latest visitors to the Gtech Community Stadium today. For that, they will choose 4-3-3.
Recently, the Dane has used Neal Maupay as the withdrawn central striker in between Bryan Mbeumo and Yoane Wissa. Maupay drops deeper while Mbeumo and Wissa act as inside forwards, tucking themselves in between the opposition’s centre backs and full backs. We saw a perfect example of this when Brentford took the lead in their 3-0 win over Burnley.
If you’re a Premier League defender, you underestimate the quality of Mbeumo and Wissa at your peril. I said last year that Mbeumo may be the most under-rated striker in England’s top tier and now Wissa is joining him in that category.
These two are workaholics, capable of charging out with the ball at high speed but with a high level of control and enough intelligence to link with Maupay. All three tend to stay central, knowing Brentford’s full backs will provide the width as Frank gets bodies forward.
It is to Mbeumo and Wissa’s immense credit that their club have not missed Ivan Toney anywhere near as much as they thought they would. The trio of Vitaly Janelt, Mathias Jensen and Christian Norgaard are also incredibly important in whichever system is used. When using a back four, Janelt has been converted from full back to the left side of midfield, while Jensen plays on the right but can push up into the No 10 position and the impressive Norgaard bosses it all centrally. Brentford will be a tough test for West Ham, especially without the playmaking magic of Lucas Paqueta and defensive steel of Edson Alvarez, both vital in their win over Arsenal but suspended for this Premier League trip after picking up five yellow cards.
Manager David Moyes will be hoping Wednesday’s victory gives his team confidence to relaunch their campaign after recent losses. But Brentford are in the ascendency as they search for a third successive Premier League victory, having previously gone six games without a win.
That dry spell was despite them starting the season as one of only two teams to stop Tottenham so far and crushing Fulham comfortably. This is Brentford’s third campaign in the top flight of English football, having waited 74 years to return to this level. The club now looks completely at home among the elite.
Although it is still early days in the season, with the way the table is already shaping up, another three points today would go a long way to helping them secure their Premier League status for a fourth successive term.