Brentford vs Bournemouth | Saturday 22nd May 2021, 12:30 | Sky Sports
Bournemouth hold a 1-0 first leg lead following their victory in front of their reduced capacity support last Saturday against Brentford, as they go in search of their first play-off final appearance since 2003. The Bees are aiming to overcome a deficit to make it back-to-back appearances in the Wembley showpiece event, and they’ll be hopeful of doing so after doing the regular season double over this opposition.
However, they were unable to make it three in succession at the Vitality Stadium as a fine counter attacking move that was finished off by tricky winger Arnaud Danjuma proved to be the difference on the day.
Substitute Bryan Mbeumo squandered the best chance to make it all-square when missing a near open goal, but the returns from injury of key defensive duo Henrik Dalsgaard and Rico Henry was a big boost for Thomas Frank. You can expect both to likely start this game.
It was certainly a tight first leg, and Cherries boss Jonathan Woodgate is adamant that there is still a long way to go in the tie, and Frank echoed such claims, too. Only Barnsley and Preston left with maximum points from Brentford’s jazzy new stadium this season, but all Brentford’s encounters with top six clubs this season were all very close run affairs, and you’d expect that theme to maybe continue in the second leg.
Bournemouth did win 4-0 away at Barnsley this season, whilst they made the most of the man advantage when winning at eventual champions Norwich City, but they won only three times on the road versus top-half opposition, so it will be interesting to see how they approach this from a tactical perspective.
Of course, they don’t necessarily have to win on the night, but I wouldn’t have thought they’d be so comfortable sitting break trying to protect this slender lead.
Brentford will have to throw the kitchen sink at one point, and I just worry if Bournemouth can withstand such pressure, especially if skipper Steve Cook is out through injury and limping off in the first leg. He, along with defensive midfielder Ben Pearson, who also was forced off, are arguably their two most important defensive players.
I can just picture the first half being a little more like how most of the first leg was played out. I can see it again being tight with little given away. The second period is when things should start opening up, and I can see it becoming a bit of a play-off classic in that period.
We all saw Bournemouth on the counter in the first leg, and they’ll again look to utilise that again. I expect Brentford to make their pressure tell in the form of a goal at least, so Both Teams To Score in Second Half at 5/2 (Sky Bet) looks a good little play to get involved with.
Another recommendation is Bryan Mbeumo Anytime Scorer at 3/1 (Unibet).
Sure, he did miss an absolute sitter in the last match, but he did net not so long ago when they met in the league. I actually fancy him to maybe start this game instead of coming off the bench, so the pressure would likely shorten if Frank does begin with him alongside Ivan Toney in attack. He ended the regular season with four goals in eight appearances, including two from the bench anyway.
Finally, I will go with a bit of a tentative punt on this game resulting in a Penalty Shootout at 6/1 (Bet365). The first leg was close, and the second will likely be so, too. I don’t think any of us would be hugely shocked if it did go all the way.