Brentford welcome Millwall to the Brentford Community Stadium tomorrow midday for a London derby in the EFL Championship. The hosts come into the game on the back of an emphatic 5-0 win away against Preston North End, where five different players got on the scoresheet.
Prior to last Saturday, the Bees had drawn their four previous games but a change in tactics to a 3-5-2 formation seemed to work and arrest the slump at Deepdale. Brentford manager Thomas Frank said:
“We hope that it works this week again. But Gary (Rowatt) doesn’t know what we’ll do so maybe we’ll play 4-4-2 tomorrow? Although, I believe in not changing game to game and it’s a matter of adjusting the tactics and making them better.
“I think Rico Henry’s injury was a big blow and that led to us using this new system, which we hope can continue to pay dividends.”
As for their opponents tomorrow, Millwall were on the wrong end of a 3-0 trashing by Swansea City on home turf last week. A first defeat in four, having won their previous three to lie ninth in the Championship table. Frank said of tomorrows opponents, to whom they have not lost at home since December 2006:
“We know they play with energy, we know they’ll press and play the physical side of the game but what I like a lot is how he (Gary Rowatt) added more passing to the team. You must now defend the open play and set-pieces, as well as when they play direct.”
When the sides met earlier in the season, it was a physical and tactical affair which ended in a 1-1 draw. A result which Frank recalls,
“After that game I potentially thought they could be top six contenders this season. I think Gary has done a top job there because they have been very unlucky with injuries and I think they had 15 or 16 draws which is crazy.
“The difference between teams in the top six and just outside is so little and that’s why I know it’s going to be a very tough test. We are up for it though and full of confidence after the last performance but every game has its own life.”
Crunch time for the Bees
The next month or so will be make or break time for the Bees, whether that includes another playoff run or a late surge for automatic promotion. As it stands, Thomas Frank’s side lie nine points behind Watford with a game in hand and six games remaining.
It is a position that the Bees are quite familiar with from last season. The question persists though: can that same squad led by top scorer Ivan Toney but without the likes of Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma reach the promised land of the Premier League?
The Danish manager is confident that his side are ready for whatever challenges the next month or so present.
“When I look out at the training ground, I see young men who love playing football, love to compete and have a bit of banter with each other in a very good environment. I don’t see them thinking too much about the future.”
Frank added: “I think we are very well prepared because in life it’s all about experience and we’ve been there before. We are in a good place and trying to attack in every game. I’m 100% sure we will perform well and hopefully the ball will drop for us this time around.”
Roerslev a name to watch out for
One player that has stood out in recent games for Brentford is u-21 Danish international, Mads Roerslev. The 21-year-old who began his career at FC Copenhagen has become a regular in recent games as a right-wing back in the absence of fellow Dane, Henrik Dalsgaard.
Roerslev provided the assists for his side’s opening two goals in last week’s 5-0 victory at Preston and Frank was keen to mention him.
“He’s a very interesting and promising young full back. He helped us at the end of last season too and started this year’s pre-season very well but then got injured, and was out for three-four months.
“He’s back in a good place now though and his confidence has been growing all the time.”
Tune in to see if the Bees can close the gap on the automatic promotion places v Millwall tomorrow at 12.30, live from the Brentford Community Stadium.