Wednesday night provided mixed thoughts and emotions, as well as a break from Championship action, as Brentford tested themselves against Arsenal. The Bees eventually went down 3-1 to the Gunners, but not without providing a fight in the second half.
Breaking down the 90 minutes, Brentford were very poor in the first half. A team that lacked cohesion, first team quality, confidence and passion let Arsenal run riot for the majority of the first 45 as Brentford failed to find their rhythm. The half ended 2-0 courtesy of Danny Welbeck whose experience in the top flight shone through.
Dean Smith must have had strong words at half time, because the Bees came out with the sort of fight and desire that they typically show at Griffin Park. Alan Judge ran his socks off and was rewarded with a peach of a free kick, wrong footing Bernd Leno, to send the 8500 travelling Bees fans into hysteria.
After a solid half, where Brentford certainly had the better chances, Unai Emery was forced to put on the big guns and Alexandre Lacazette eventually scored to end the contest.
This did not stop the Bees support from making the most noise (and the only noise) at the Emirates, and shows that we’ll have a great backing when (not if) we reach the promised land of the Premier League.
Now it is time to focus back on that goal, as Brentford welcome Reading to Griffin Park on Saturday (15:00 GMT). With Brentford’s 100% record at home this season, and Reading’s struggle to find form, it seems there would be no contest on Saturday.
However, this is a Brentford side that has one win in their last four games in all competitions and a Reading side that will be reinvigorated after a 3-0 win against Hull, despite going down to ten men.
It is crucial for Brentford to get back to winning ways and to put in the kind of performance that had gained plaudits earlier in the season, particularly as there are important games coming every few days, momentum will be key.
Jón Dadi Bödvarsson will be a key man for the away side, scoring five goals this season, and a familiar face in Jon Swift will also be key Reading are to gain anything from the game.
Brentford likely line-up: (4-2-3-1)
Dalsgaard – Konsa – Mepham – Barbet
McEachran – Macleod
Benrahma – Sawyers – Watkins
After resting some key players against Arsenal, it was clear to see Smith was focusing on gaining all three points on Saturday. Expect a full strength side with Neal Maupay, Said Benrahma and Chris Mepham all back in the starting line-up.
Despite Moses Odubajo starting against Arsenal I don’t think he’ll retain the starting spot this weekend, though he may gain some more minutes. Sergi Canos and Judge looked like they are getting back on track in the second half on Wednesday, much more persistent and energetic.
The general Kamohelo Mokotjo also had a strong game against Arsenal, but it’s more likely Smith will favour a more creative midfield to put Reading to the sword.
Prediction: Despite the recent results, Brentford are an entirely different beast when playing at Griffin Park and I expect their 100% home record to continue. A dominant performance against a struggling Reading side would certainly get the Bees back on track, particularly with the creative talent they possess.
Brentford 3 – 0 Reading
Up the Bees.