Brentford-Swansea-City-Championship-Tactical-Analysis-Statistics
Artwork by @chapulana.

Bad defending was once again on the agenda as Brentford lost 3-2 to Swansea at Griffin Park. The loss once again increased the gap between Brentford and the play-off positions to a mountainous 16 points ahead of a crucial run of games which see the club face Championship stragglers Hull City and Bolton Wanderers.

In this piece, we will look at how Brentford lost the game, as they started the game off in horrendous fashion, conceding after just 30 seconds.

‘Poor defending’

Once the catchphrase for former Liverpool legend and TV pundit Alan Hansen, ‘poor defending’ are the exact choice of words that can be used to describe how inept Brentford were against Swansea City on Saturday afternoon.

As mentioned above, the Bees got off to the worst of starts, conceding after just 30 seconds which proved to be a comedy of errors. It didn’t take long for Brentford to make yet another defensive error, as Thomas Frank’s plan to play out of the back went horribly wrong. A back pass from Daniel Bentley out to centre-back Ezri Konsa, was proceeded by the youngster being caught on the ball by on-loan Rangers youngster Barrie McKay, who in turn passed across the box to Wayne Routledge, who slotted home for the opening goal for Swansea.

Brentford Swansea City Championship Tactical Analysis Statistics
Konsa is caught on the ball just 30 seconds into the game by McKay.

Despite the ball been given away in their own defensive third, that was not the only mistake that Brentford made in the build-up to Saturday’s opening goal. Left-back Rico Henry was found ball watching at the back post as he let winger Routledge slide in for Swansea’s third goal. Another example of Brentford’s lack of concentration whilst defending, which has been an all too familiar feeling for Thomas Frank.

Brentford Swansea City Championship Tactical Analysis Statistics
Henry, highlighted in yellow, is fast asleep at the back post as Routledge, highlighted in black, runs straight past him for Saturday’s opening goal.

Despite Brentford’s poor defensive work in recent weeks, they still haven’t seemed to have learnt from their mistakes. Brentford’s midfield trio of Romaine Sawyers, Josh McEachran and Nico Yennaris weren’t anywhere to be seen as Swansea’s McKay found himself in acres of space in the middle of the pitch with no Brentford player within five yards of himself. A good interchange of passes between Nathan Dyer, McKay and Ollie McBurnie cut through Brentford’s midfield and defence with ease in the build-up to Swansea’s second goal.

Brentford Swansea City Championship Tactical Analysis Statistics
Brentford’s midfield trio of Sawyers, Yennaris and McEachran leave McKay too much space in the build-up to Swansea’s second goal.

In the picture above, only Sawyers is seen attempting to stop the man on the ball, Dyer. However, Sawyers has taken up the wrong body shape, allowing Dyer to cut into the pitch and therefore allowing him to find the pass to McKay. Fellow teammate Yennaris is caught ball watching with McKay behind in with acres of space. The final central Midfielder, McEachran, isn’t seen in shot which means he has found himself out of position, as there is only two of Brentford’s three midfielders in the centre of the pitch.

Brentford Swansea City Championship Tactical Analysis Statistics
McBurnie completes the interchange of passes by playing Dyer through behind Brentford’s defence, as Swansea’s Roberts pulls Brentford’s Dalsgaard inside.

The passing move by McKay, McBurnie and Dyer opened up space for Dyer down Brentford’s right side. Swansea’s Connor Roberts played the most important part in creating the goal, as he opened the space up for Dyer down the left-side by pulling Brentford’s Henrik Dalsgard into the middle with himself. However, despite all this great build-up play by Swansea, Brentford could count themselves unlucky as Brentford Chris Mepham inadvertently diverts the ball into his own net for Swansea’s second.

Brentford Swansea City Championship Tactical Analysis Statistics
Mepham turns the ball into his own net for Swansea second goal.

The third Swansea goal encapsulated just how poor Brentford’s defence is as once again concentration was lost following a Swansea free-kick. The initial free kick is cleared via a great punch by goalkeeper Bentley. However, following a second cross into the box three Brentford players are all found ball watching as Swansea take advantage to secure a third goal inside the opening 27 minutes. As well as being guilty of ball watching, Mepham, Konsa and Sawyers also find themselves the wrong side of their men as McBurnie’s attempted scissor kick is tapped in by an overstretched Leroy Fer.

Brentford Swansea City Championship Tactical Analysis Statistics
A combination of Mepham, Sawyers and Konsa allow McBurnie and Fer combine for the Welsh sides third goal inside the opening 27 minutes.

Brentford’s attacking threat

Despite being poor defensively, Brentford do have an attack that saves themselves from being completely blown away in games. This has been the case under Frank, where they have only lost by one goal in every single game they’ve lost, and this trend continued as the Bees tried staging a daring comeback that fell short in a much better second half performance.

During the first half, Swansea’s style of play meant that Brentford were always on the back foot and not able to push higher up the pitch. This was the case on numerous occasions as the Swans pushed up the pitch and initiated a high press.

Brentford Swansea City Championship Tactical Analysis Statistics
Swansea pressing Brentford high up the pitch on Saturday.
Brentford Swansea City Championship Tactical Analysis Statistics
A mammoth seven Swansea players press Brentford high up the pitch, a tactic which starved the Bees of any attacking threat.
Brentford Swansea City Championship Tactical Analysis Statistics
Swansea high press from Saturday. this time with six players high up the pitch.

This tactic by Swansea was effective as it reduced the number of chances the Bees created from open play. Brentford had 18 shots at goal on Saturday, however, of those 18 only five shots were on target, with a colossal 13 of them not finding the target. This statistic is emphasised by the fact that both Brentford goals came from set-pieces. A corner just before half-time turned in by Ollie Watkins after the second cross into the box, and a free-kick 13 minutes from time from Substitute Said Benrahma.

Final thoughts

In all seven losses under Frank, Brentford have been behind in six of those games, only taking the lead in the Championship match against Queens Park Rangers on 10 November, an entire month ago. Starting matches well is a huge problem as Brentford’s defence finds themselves starting with a lack of defensive concentration. This has been apparent in all seven of Brentford’s losses, and can be seen in the way goals are being conceded.


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