Brentford host Brighton & Hove Albion this week in what can be called the “Analytics Derby”, as both teams’ owners – Matthew Benham and Tony Bloom – are frontrunners in employing analytics for scouting and improving players. The Londoners come from a heavy defeat to Newcastle United in a match littered with errors while the Seagulls are trying to get their first win of the De Zerbi era after a narrow 1-0 defeat at the Amex.
Thomas Frank’s men will look to turn around their 3-match winless streak with a convincing display at the Gtech Community Stadium. A win will push them back into the top half of the table and 7 points clear of the relegation places, albeit momentarily. Three points for Brighton will push them back in contention for the Champions League places while having a match in hand. It promises to be an interesting match as both teams will look to get 3 points and bounce back from last week’s defeat.
WHEN & WHERE?
Venue: Gtech Community Stadium.
Date: 14th October 2022.
Time: 8 pm (UK time).
Referee: Michael Salisbury.
Assistants: Neil Davies, Timothy Wood.
Fourth official: Graham Scott.
VAR: Mike Dean.
Assistant VAR: Nick Hopton.
Brentford will be without defensive midfielder Norgaard and club captain Pontus Jansson, whose absence proved costly as they suffered their heaviest defeat in the Premier League. Lewis-Potter is also likely to miss the match with a knock.
Brighton will be without Jakub Moder as he recovers from a cruciate ligament injury. Enock Mwepu, last week’s absentee has retired from football owing to a hereditary heart problem and the Seagulls will surely miss him as he was just starting to break into the starting eleven.
As Conte’s men showed in the previous game week, the blueprint against De Zerbi’s men will be to overload the midfield two of Brighton and then exploit the spaces behind them. Spurs took advantage of Brighton’s narrow pressing structure by pinning the wingbacks with their own wingbacks, which left the three-man midfield time and space to progress the ball. Therefore Brighton will look to solve the midfield overload by either switching to a three-man midfield or by dropping Gross in the pressing structure, looking to avoid overloads and midfielders being dragged wide.
Thomas Frank’s men often pushes their midfielders high when they play a 3-5-2, and hence there will be spaces for MacAlister to play the ball if Brighton successfully bait and evade the press. The Seagulls have the pace and direct running on the flanks to attack spaces behind the Brentford full-backs, as they are often pushed high and wide. Brighton must follow Newcastle’s template of dominating the ball and can also look to exploit set pieces as Brentford looked lost without their captain Jansson.
Brentford’s 4-3-3 paper on structure provides a perfect way to win the midfield battle. Brentford are not afraid to let their fullbacks stay wide and high and their midfielders can drop deep to build up. David Raya is an astute distributor of the ball and can also play the ball directly to the fullbacks to quickly hurt the opposition in transition. Brentford are heavily reliant on set pieces and transitions for scoring and have the pace and power to stretch the Brighton backline.
Brighton & Hove Albion’s CBs are not the most athletic defenders and as teams have shown, there is space behind the Brighton defence to play balls. As seen in the Spurs game, Brentford must look to win the midfield battle but their game against Newcastle was lost due to their midfield.
They missed the defensive presence of Norgaard and with Janelt also dropped to the bench, Brentford struggled throughout the game as they could not stop Guimaraes from running the play. Baptiste and Da Silva pushed forward to press, but this left their midfield light and easily exploitable. They also made too many mistakes in the buildup, particularly Raya and Pinnock, who gave away the ball cheaply and also scored an own goal. Pinnock was probably thrown in very soon after coming off an injury and Jansson’s absence proved why he remains vital to keeping Brentford’s Premier League status safe.
Alexis Mac Allister
Alexis Mac Allister must look to emulate what Bruno Guimaraes did against Brentford in their 5-1 win. Mac Allister is vital for progressing the ball for Brighton and is also adept in set pieces. Brentford will look to push their midfielders high to win possession and Mac Allister will have space to play the ball if he is able to evade the press.
Toney remains Brentford’s talisman as he leads their team’s attack with six goals and two assists. He remains vital for Brentford’s attack, as he is adept at holding up play and bringing their wingbacks and Mbeumo into the attack. It will be interesting to see if Toney can win the physical battle against Brighton’s 3 man defence and turn around the winless streak
Brentford predicted lineup vs Brighton: Raya; Hickey, Ajer, Mee, Henry; Baptiste, Janelt, Jensen; Mbuemo, Toney, Damsgaard.
Brighton predicted lineup vs Brentford: Sanchez; Veltman, Dunk, Webster; March, Mac Alister, Caicedo, Estupinan; Gross, Welbeck, Trossard.