It is well known that playing more attractive football than your opponent is not a synonym of winning the game. Being more offensive is not a guarantee for scoring more goals.
Brentford was the offensive side at their game against Huddersfield on Saturday at Griffin Park but Huddersfield scored the only goal of the game.
I analyze how Huddersfield won the match despite Brentford looking like the stronger side.
Brentford failed to score at the beginning of both halves
The home fans’ excitement after three consecutive wins and the dynamic football played by Thomas Frank’s side on Huddersfield’s half of the pitch, was not enough to score an opening goal in the first 20 minutes.
Brentford found their passing lanes easily and transitioned the ball comfortably from side to side. Komahelo Mokotjo received the ball with enough space and time at the midfield which permitted Brentford’s game to run smoothly and comfortably.
Two factors permitted this. Josh Da Silva and Christian Norgaard shielded Mokotjo well enough to keep Huddersfield’s midfield pressure far enough from Mokotjo, while the front three – Said Benrahma, Bryan Mbueno and Ollie Watkins – moved proactively without the ball so Huddersfield focused their energy on guarding Brentford’s front strikers.
The Bees were able to constantly penetrate Huddersfield’s area on both wings had but were unable to capitalize and Huddersfield manager Danny Cowley made a tactical change that closed the space for Mokotjo.
Cowley said: “We made a tactical tweak about 20 minutes (into the game) which allowed to stop the switch particularly from the left to the right, they switched it out to Mokotjo, we managed to make a tactical change to stop changing the angle of their attack so quickly and that did help us definitely.”
The second half started with Brentford playing intensively in Huddersfield’s territory.
The Bee’s were unpredictable playing on the wings as they would either get to Huddersfield’s box through short-pass combinations or accumulate three or four men in Huddersfield’s box for a header.
The closest Brentford got to scoring was at the 57th minute when Huddersfield goalkeeper saved Kamil Grabara saved a header by Brentford’s Julian Jeanvier. Huddersfield scored only five minutes later.
Brentford’s attack was more intense than clear for the rest of the game and Huddersfield had an easier time in shutting down spaces.
Danny Cowley’s game plan turned out right
Despite allowing Brentford to get into their box through short passes, Danny Cowley was successful in transitioning his midfield inside the box to support in defensive tasks.
Brentford’s attack was fast and dynamic, but Huddersfield’s defensive transitions were as well.
Cowley would constantly accumulate up to six or seven men inside the box to close down shooting space. Brentford had ten shots but only three were on target.
Brentford manager Thomas Frank said that Huddersfield played for the 0-0 and to hit on the counter attack.
It did turn out well for Cowley’s side since Karlan Grant’s goal in the 62nd minute happened after a long ball from Huddersfield’s territory.
Brentford’s defense lacked bodies and Grant made the best of it with a shot from the left side of the box.
Huddersfield’s defensive work proved why they have conceded only four goals in their last seven games.
Brentford’s six-game unbeaten streak was broken while Huddersfield extended theirs to seven games without a loss.
The Bees visit Wigan Athletic on Saturday while Huddersfield travel to Preston, looking for a third consecutive win.