Bournemouth vs Brentford | Monday 17th May 2021, 20:15 | Sky Sports
It is that time of year again folks!
The play-offs are back in our lives and on Monday the Championship foursome of Bournemouth, Brentford, Barnsley and Swansea begin their quest to earn a spot in the 2021/22 Premier League. First up, Brentford travel to Bournemouth in leg one, but both sides in contrasting form.
Jonathan Woodgate oversaw a disappointing three defeats from their final three regulation season fixtures, during which they failed to score a single goal in reply. That is perhaps what’ll concern him more than anything considering the attacking quality he has at his disposal. That being said, only opponents Brentford and champions Norwich scored more than the Cherries, so they’ll be hoping it was just a blip.
That three match losing streak did begin with a home setback to Brentford, which was a strange game to say the least. Despite being the home side, Bournemouth only managed a measly four shots on goal across the 90 minutes, and Brentford played from the 50th minute with ten men, which was also the period in which the visitors netted the only goal.
Despite the red card, Brentford were far superior and never looked like losing or conceding. Bournemouth didn’t have the answers, and didn’t again in their next two corresponding fixtures, which also included defeat to relegated Wycombe and mid-table Stoke.
Brentford are very much looking to make it second time lucky, well, this group of players are. The Bees reached the play-offs last season, only to be beaten by a Joe Bryan inspired Fulham at an empty Wembley in the showpiece event.
They return again looking to finally get a club hoodoo in the play-offs, for which their nine is the record for amount of unsuccessful play-off campaigns. That is history however, and Thomas Frank is very much keen on creating their own history, the good kind.
Recent form would suggest they have every chance of doing so. They did go on a three-game losing run in February when going down to Barnsley, QPR and Coventry, but since then they’ll stepped things up a notch.
Just one loss in 15, which came to eventual champions Norwich, means they enter the play-offs as the form team. They won each of their last four in the normal season, which started with beating Bournemouth, whilst they also beat league runners-up Norwich.
It will be down to something of a personal preference to see if you truly value the form of a team heading into the play-offs. Does it really matter? For all that it will put certain people off backing the out-of-form side, there will be an examples of many such teams winning promotion.
Brentford did the double over Bournemouth this season, so does it mean they’ll do it a third time? No two games are ever the same. For me, my views are now to get too caught up over form heading into the play-offs. Bournemouth had been quite comfortable in those spots when starting their losing streak, and whilst the performance levels were a concern, you just have to expect them to improve.
To sound like a complete hypocrite, I must admit Brentford’s club record in the play-offs does put me off. Only last season has any relevance considering a big percentage of the squad remains from then, but it is just something which just leaves me thinking they may find a way to lose again. Call it a curse, call it whatever, but Brentford are the overall favourites to progress to the Premier League out of the four clubs, and I don’t think they represent any real value at all.
When I was drafting this article not long after the normal season ended, I was pretty sweet on Brentford’s chance. I still am in a way, as they have been playing well, but that was when the pressure was off and they could play with some freedom. The issue now is the pressure is ramped up considerably, and we have to see if they can repeat such performances in those circumstances.
Also, could it be that Bournemouth needs the pressure to really bring the best out of them. They do have several so-called ‘big game players’, and plus there will be some fans back in the ground for both legs, and they’ll be eager to make the most of that opportunity in the first leg, when at their own stadium.
The selection I’ll plump for is Bournemouth Double Chance and Under 3 Goals at 11/8 (Bet365) on the bet-builder. I’ll admit, it is a bit of a late change to have Bournemouth’s name instead of Brentford in that bet, but maybe it was my gut just telling me that Bournemouth aren’t really as bad as their previous three results and performances suggest.
I do have doubts on Woodgate as a manager and he still needs to prove he can get the best out of these players, however they have too many good players to keep under-performing.
Whilst there is plenty of talent on show, I do anticipate this being something of a nervy affair. These games are pure pressure, especially from two sides who will have started the season almost expecting this to be their last in the Championship.
Nine of Brentford’s ten games this season against the current top six this season finished with under 2.5 goals, so they’ll show plenty of respect to Bournemouth, even though they’ve beaten them twice already.
Bournemouth v Brentford – Bournemouth Double Chance and Under 3 Goals (11/8 Bet365)