Brentford v West Brom | Friday 26th June 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Albeit a few months later than initially scheduled, we’re very much entering the home straight in the Championship, and both Brentford and West Brom definitely have something to play for. Thomas Frank’s side are eight points behind the top two, and that is where WBA are currently positioned, so three points would go a long way towards a Premier League return.
This will be the second round of games since the resumption and both outfits endured contrasting emotions first time up in respective local derbies. The Bees pounced late, and twice, to win away from home versus Fulham in a huge top of the table encounter, whilst Slaven Bilic’s team couldn’t find the breakthrough and had to settle for a home draw with Birmingham City.
It is still very much advantage West Brom and Leeds at this time, with both enjoying a relatively comfortable lead in the top two positions. West Brom however know that losing on Friday night would see the margin reduce, and even more so should Fulham prevail when they take on Leeds at the weekend.
In reality, Brentford need to put a run of wins together to gate-crash the automatic promotion party, but they’re capable.
The first thing I wanted to see when decided upon likely betting angles for this game is how both teams have done across the campaign versus other clubs towards the summit. Brentford obviously beat another promotion rival in the form of Fulham last time out, and that completed the double over the Cottagers. However, those two wins remains Brentford’s only wins versus the current top six, but they did draw away at West Brom.
As for West Brom, it is clearly noticeable that they’ve had a few issues, if you could put it that way, against certain clubs in the upper echelons on the English second-tier. Versus Leeds, they draw at home and lost away. An away draw at Fulham and home draw with Brentford isn’t a disaster, and they also drew at home to Nottingham Forest, but did edge the away clash on the opening day.
Albion have also been to Cardiff and lost, so for all their high standards it is clear to see they do have a little bit of trouble against the better sides. They’ve dropped points in 11 league matches this season, and six came against teams in the top seven.
A tactical tussle
I can only see quite a tactical game playing out here, and for all that this is a match between the top two highest scoring teams in the league, it also puts together two of the top three defensive records, with only Leeds managing to concede fewer goals.
It has been well-documented that having Pontus Jansson back in the Brentford back line statistically makes them much, much stronger than without him, so that too has to be factored into proceedings.
Something else which has to be considered is the respect aspect, as undoubtedly both teams know the strengths of the opposition. Therefore, it is probably unwise to expect anything too gung-ho in the early proceedings.
Brentford and West Brom tend to end matches strongly, highlighted by the fact they’ve scored 31 goals combined after 75 minutes. Brentford are more likely to really push to win the longer this game goes on, much like against Fulham where they netted twice very late on.
A draw wouldn’t be the end of the world for West Brom, and I’d go as far as saying it would be a very good result for them. Bilic knows how to set up his team on the road to be hard to beat having lost only two away league contests all season. They’ve earned clean sheets in three of their last four away.
Both Brentford and West Brom are very strong first-half performers, but Brentford have conceded only five first half home goals, and WBA seven first half away goals across the campaign. Rather than this being an epic end-to-end thriller, I’m leaning more towards a tactical affair, at least early on.
The betting angles
I’m happy to push forward a 0-0 Half Time Draw recommendation at 9/5 (Betfair). Only five goals have been produced across the last three head-to-head meetings over the last few seasons in Championship fixtures, so that respect element that I mentioned before clearly plays a hand in this fixture, and especially at this stage of the season when so much is on the line.
A final play focuses on the card market, and it is very noticeable to see that Brentford have by far the best disciplinary record in the league. With that being the case, we’ll look more towards the visitors, who have amassed one of the highest number of away yellow cards in the division. WBA will come under periods of pressure, as does any opponent against Brentford, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see a tactical foul or two occur.
Only Luton’s James Collins and Lukas Jutkiewicz of Birmingham have made more fouls than Livermore, so he is a natural selection, plus he has eight bookings to his name this season.
Furlong will be coming up against the dangerous Said Benrahma, and with West Brom likely to defend in a compact shape, it is the wide areas where Brentford shall look to penetrate and this is why the Algerian is very much in his element, and Furlong has a decent amount of yellow cards considering he has been in and out of the side across the campaign.