Brentford's sturdy defence could give them edge in Premier League survival fight

By Sean Walsh
Thomas Frank's side held Crystal Palace to a 0-0 draw
Thomas Frank's side held Crystal Palace to a 0-0 draw / JUSTIN TALLIS/Getty Images

After a headline-grabbing opening night win against Arsenal on their Premier League debut, Brentford were thrust into the international spotlight.

Football fans quickly became aware of their rise through the divisions, their obsession with stats, their high-risk tactics which are so fun to watch.

Ivan Toney
Brentford beat Arsenal last Friday / Eddie Keogh/Getty Images

But what gets lost amid all the front-foot fun is that Brentford are also a decent defensive outfit, and their proficiency at both ends of the pitch will serve them well this season.

The Bees recorded the fewest expected goals against in the Championship last year, building on their solid 2020/21 campaign. The formidable duo of Pontus Jansson and Ethan Pinnock have welcomed Kristoffer Ajer into their three-man backline, and he already looks comfortable on and off the ball in the Premier League.

Brentford held Palace to a 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park on Saturday, restricting their hosts to seven shots and never looking in danger of conceding after Conor Gallagher struck the post after five minutes. From there on in, the Bees played with confidence and stability, though lacked the creativity to break the Eagles down too much themselves.

The cliches about the Selhurst Park atmosphere are still true despite this new era that Patrick Vieira is at the forefront of - as full crowds return, south London will not be an easy place for teams to go, particularly ones who were playing in the Championship last season.

But Brentford held their own. They looked at the very least like they were Palace's equals and had been for some time. Playing up to a boisterous home crowd, as Thomas Frank so often does, is one thing, but facing up against one requires more.

When the Bees were always on the cusp of promotion, they were often labelled soft, but their opening two games at the top level show that they have everything needed to turn that reputation around.

David Raya
Raya was impressive on Saturday / Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

They play from the back the way that Mikel Arteta has long hoped his Arsenal side can, sticking to their principles and their trust of the process never dips. David Raya may be shorter than most Premier League goalkeepers (and that will probably get exploited at some point), but his tremendous kicking ability has helped Brentford out of some sticky situations. An eleventh outfielder only adds to the bodies capable of playing under intense pressure.

Patrick Vieira said this week that Brentford's win against the Gunners did not surprise him, and so it will be no surprise that they managed to come to Selhurst Park and clamp down Wilfried Zaha. The Bees won't be buzzing about a draw at Palace, but it'll stand them in good stead in the long run.

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