Three Things to Look for from Brentford vs Tottenham

Tottenham Hotspur (Photo by Matt Dunham - Pool/Getty Images)
Tottenham Hotspur (Photo by Matt Dunham - Pool/Getty Images) /

Tottenham Hotspur host the Brentford Bees in the Carabao Cup semifinals here are three things to look for from the Bees in the big match.

Tottenham Hotspur are facing an unfamiliar opponent in thee Carabao Cup semifinals, as Spurs last faced Brentford in September 2000. Tottenham won the two-legged League Cup match 2-0, and the sides have not faced since. With Brentford again near the top of the Championship and having beaten several Premier League sides to get here, the Bees cannot be overlooked. Here are three things to look for from Brentford, which Spurs need to be aware of and do something about if they are to advance to the Cup Final.

Scoring Spree

One thing Brentford has not had trouble doing this season is scoring goals. Despite losing 43 goals and 12 assists from the team last season as Ollie Watkins (26/3) and Said Benrahma (17/9) have moved on in the Premier League. The Bees signed Ivan Toney, the League One Player of the Season from 2019-20 from Peterborough and have not looked back.

With 36 goals total in 22 matches a 1.63 goals per match rate is quite comparable to Tottenham. Additionally, like Tottenham Brentford can score in lots of ways. While the Bees do have 4 penalties on the season, they also have 3 goals on the counter and a concerning six from set pieces.

We know Tottenham have had trouble with concentration and focus on set pieces, particularly late in matches. With 17% of their goals coming from set pieces – not including penalty kicks – Brentford has a plan when it comes to free kicks and Spurs need to be ready. What makes Brentford particularly tough as a scoring team is that it can come from anywhere.

Yes, Toney has most of the goals – 44% – however, 10 Bees have scored on the season. And while Toney has been excellent in his goal scoring form, his back-up Marcus Forss has been even better. Whereas Toney averages a goal every 119 minutes on the season, Forss has scored 5 goals in just 387 minutes, which is one every 77.4 minutes. Forss does not play a ton, averaging only 22 minutes per appearance, but clearly, he is having success in the limited action.

The point is, you cannot focus solely on stopping Ivan Toney, as other Brentford players can and do score.

Bees are Winging It

Ivan Toney is the top name on the billing for Brentford with his 16 goals on the season, but it is often the play on the wings that helps get Brentford moving. With Bryan Mbuemo on the right and Sergi Canos on the left, the Bees have some real pace and power on the wings.

Expect the ball to be wide a lot for Brentford as they look to attack with pace down the wings and work the ball back into the middle of the pitch. Mbuemo and Canos have 8 assists between them on the season, working to provide direct crosses to Ivan Toney, or getting the ball back to the central midfielders to create chances.

Brentford have 28 assists on their 36 goals for the season most because they look to find those passes to create opportunity for Toney to score. With 16 goals on term, Toney has picked up right were Ollie Watkins left off and has helped Brentford stay near the top of the Championship pack.

Do Not Forget the Defense

Brentford win most of their matches by outscoring their opponents. The Bees last kept a clean sheet on December 22 in the Carabao Cup in a 1-0 win over Newcastle. While giving up goals in five straight matches in the League, Brentford is still unbeaten since October. With 8 League shutouts and three in the Carabao Cup – all against Premier League competition – Brentford is quite capable defensively.

With Pontus Jansson and Ethan Pinnock leading the back line, Brentford has two large, experienced, capable defenders in the back. Both players are excellent in the air, combined for about 8 aerial wins per match and both pass at a rate above 85%. In other words, these two are not going to be beaten easily and do not just give the ball away in the back.

Brentford will try to play possession in the back with their back four and Spurs are going to have to work to pressure them and get a particularly good passing defense to make mistakes. Brentford has not conceded an own goal this season and have good defensive concentration. The key for Spurs will be the movement of the attack, and their ability to get Jansson and Pinnock off their spots to create space for the attack.

Bottom Line for Tottenham

Brentford are a good team without any obvious holes. While they lost some real talent from the team that came moments away from promotion last season, they reloaded and have not lost a beat. If anyone is expecting a Championship team that is just going to role over and die, this may be a long day. All that said, Tottenham are the better team, with better players, playing at home.

If Spurs can play with the kind of aggression and intensity, they brought to the Leeds match on the weekend, Tottenham should be good. However, if Spurs go in with the idea that this one is over before it begins, then things could go off the rails against a quality opponent. Ultimately, Tottenham should be too much for Brentford, but if Spurs are not careful, the Bees do sting.

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