Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Brentford Wary Of Clash With Barnsley Who Are “Fighting For Their Lives”

Posted on 28 September 2019 by Benjamin Chapal

Brentford enter the weekend facing a packed schedule ahead. The Bees have three games over the next seven days, and will travel to Barnsley tomorrow afternoon. There will be no time for rest, as they host Bristol City on Wednesday before heading to Nottingham Forest for their Saturday clash. Manager Thomas Frank is not fazed by the cramped run of fixtures, and plans to focus on one game at a time. Brentford will look to build on a solid defensive 0-0 performance against Stoke City last week, and plan to gain some momentum at Bristol. 

“We are going into a big week, and we are looking forward to that. There are three very interesting games. But first we need to focus on Barnsley, and get the three points.”  Frank emphasized to not take these games for granted, “We are playing against a team that is fighting for their lives in the Championship.”

Although the Bees find themselves 17th in the Championship, Frank is determined to hone in on the positives. “One of the goals for the season was to be much better defensively. In terms of stats we are up there, top three in the league” Brentford have only conceded six goals in their eight matches so far this Championship season. That does in fact put them in the top three teams, with only Leeds and Swansea having given up fewer goals. This strong defensive base has been crucial for the team so far this season, and manager Thomas Frank is confident that the goals will come. 

Image courtesy of: D Fuller

“The players are aware and are encouraging each other. We know we are in a spell where we are not clicking or may not have momentum, but we need to keep believing in what we are doing, and do what we do. We get the points where we can, and then we know we can hit a higher level. We saw it against Derby, and we know we can get there again.”

With only five goals on the season, Brentford will be determined to put on an attacking display. When asked about a potential change in formations, Frank was quite candid. “I have always said that I like to have two systems. Last year I changed from a 4-3-3 to a 3-4-3. This year I am considering going to a 4-3-3. One thing is for certain, the style of play will not change, we still want to press high, and we still want to dominate.” 

Despite the team struggling for goals, Brentford have been blessed with a reliable forward in Ollie Watkins. Watkins has four of the teams five goals, and has been pivotal in all of their wins so far this season. In the last match against Stoke, Greece forward Nikolaos Karelis got his first Championship action of the season.

Frank knows that there is more to come from the forward, “I think Nikolaos still has a bit to go to get up to top speed, and he knows that, and will work very hard at that bit. Potentially Nikolaos could start, and we know that Ollie can play the 10 position. But so far we are pleased with Ollie up there, we know he can score some nice goals. Some of the other players will need to step up.” Bees fans will be looking forward to the others finding their goal scoring form, and a turnaround of their fortunes.

Barnsley find themselves in an early relegation battle, sitting uncomfortably at 22nd in the table entering the contest with Brentford. They will look to pick up their first win since the opening day of the season. When asked about his concerns for Barnsley, Frank had this to say, “We know they want to play an aggressive game, to press us high. We have been looking at how we can build out of the back, even though they will press. They attack with numbers, especially on the break. Hopefully we can keep the game on our terms, and keep the ball for longer spells. It will be an end to end game, and we will need to manage those situations.” Barnsley will also be desperate to create more goal scoring opportunities on the attacking side of things, as they have a league low four goals on the season. 

“They had a top year last year. I don’t think many predicted them to be promoted. I think Daniel Stendel and his staff/players did a top job.” 

Barnsley vs Brentford kicks off at 1:30 on Sunday.