Brentford’s next three games could define their season. They will face Newcastle, Norwich and Burnley – teams that are below them in the table. If Thomas Frank’s men collect a significant number of points, they will propel themselves out of the relegation zone. However, they will be dragged straight into the mess if they fail.
Is it time to change formation to try to improve their lot? Is Christian Eriksen ready to make an impact? Will the club regret loaning out several players in January? Athletic have answered some of your questions ahead of this crucial stage in the campaign.
Chris D – After a dream start, Brentford hit a wall. Did something happen behind the scenes that impacted the team’s confidence and when will Christian Eriksen be fit?
As far as I know, Chris, nothing substantial happened behind the scenes to affect the team. I think there are two main reasons why Brentford struggled and the injuries, which you mention, are one of them. Between October and mid-January, it felt like Frank constantly had to deal with personnel issues – losing David Raya and Kristoffer Ajer for long stretches was a blow.
Other players have struggled with injuries or COVID-19 including Yoane Wissa, Rico Henry, Vitaly Janelt, Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jorgensen and Ivan Toney. Due to the disruption of the starting XI, it was difficult to maintain the levels of performance seen at the start of the season.
The second factor is that other teams have started figuring out how to cancel out Brentford. I have noticed that Christian Norgaard is often doubled which weakens the team’s ability to play from the back, while the opponents isolate Toney and prevent him from reaching midfield. Frank must find different solutions so that the team can adapt.