Brentford To Provide Cowley's Biggest Test Yet

Danny Cowley’s Huddersfield Town take on Brentford in the Championship looking to secure consecutive league victories on their final trip to Griffin Park. Here we evaluate Town’s chances in the game whilst also looking at the Bees upturn in form that has fans dreaming of a play-off push.

The Championship is a league of harsh realities and tomorrow, Danny and Nicky Cowley could be on the receiving end of somewhat of a wake-up call at Griffin Park. After guiding the Terriers to a haul of 12 points from a possible 18, the brotherly duo must now find a way to overcome one of the best sides in the division.

You may find it strange that I’m describing a team sat in 12th place as one of the best sides in the division, but it’s true. On current form, Brentford are the best team in the Championship having accrued one more point than Town during that period.

Unlike Town, Brentford have had to win their points the hard way, against some of the division’s stronger sides. Millwall and Barnsley - beaten 3-2 & 3-1 respectively - are the only sides Brentford have faced from the bottom half in their past half-a-dozen games.

In the other four fixtures, they have faced Bristol City, Nottingham Forest, QPR and Swansea, beating the latter two comprehensively. In comparison, Town’s 12 points have come from opponents all positioned in the bottom half of the table, including the current bottom three.

All bar one of Town’s last six games have been tight affairs, whereas Brentford have made a habit of blowing teams away with fast-paced football and are currently reaping the rewards of a recent tactical tweak.

(The current Championship form table)

Why Are Brentford Such A Dangerous Opponent?

It’s a common misconception amongst football fans that their team are the unluckiest in the entire world. How many times have you heard supporters at Huddersfield games saying things like, “typical Town” or “that could only happen to us”?

So when I spoke to a Brentford fan last season and he told me how unlucky his side were, I took it with a pinch of salt. We’re all unlucky, our side never deserves to lose and we always get done over by the referee. So what made his side any different?

Well, it actually seems as though he had a point. Over the last two season’s the Bees have consistently underperformed in respects to their Xg whilst their opponents have overperformed.

The Griffin Park outfit have made a habit of hitting the woodwork, having shots cleared off the line and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory through a series of high-profile defensive blunders.

However, in recent months Brentford manager Thomas Frank and his coaching staff appear to have found the solution to their bad luck in front of goal. Whilst the Bees have continued to play an attractive brand of possession football, they have become slightly more direct in recent weeks.

That’s not to say they’ve been hoofing the ball 70 yards down the pitch, rather they have started to shoot from range, instead of trying to engineer the ‘perfect’ goal. This change in tactic has worked wonders for the team with half of their goals against Millwall and Swansea coming from outside the box.

On top of that, Frank seems to have added an extra defensive resolve to his Brentford team which was evident in their 3-0 win away to Swansea. Lethal counter-attacking stole the headlines in that game, but it was a stern defensive display that laid the foundation for the result.

(Highlights of Brentford's exciting comeback victory over a stubborn Millwall side.)

What Does That Mean For Town?

Up until recently, there was a very clear blueprint of winning away at Brentford. Opposing teams just needed to defend deep in numbers to frustrate the Bees before scoring a thoroughly undeserved goal on the break or from a set-piece.

The best example of this was Birmingham’s 1-0 win at Griffin Park on the opening day of the season. Bizarrely, the Blues scored from their only effort of the game when Kristian Pedersen planted a header in the top corner from outside the box.

At the final whistle, Brentford were left scratching their heads in disbelief after racking up 15 efforts on the Birmingham goal and finishing the game with 74% possession.

The Bees recent tactical shift to shooting from range and going back to front more often seems to suggest that the Birmingham approach is no longer viable. On top of that, Brentford have the second most lethal striker in the division in their ranks.

Former Exeter wide-man Ollie Watkins has been played in a more central role by Thomas Frank this season and has repaid his manager by scoring 10 goals in 14 games.

Watkins new role as a striker has helped Brentford in breaking down stubborn defences. As a former wideman he can often be found dropping deep or finding space in between central defenders and full-backs.

This movement and positional irregularity from Watkins has proved to be a thorn in the side of opposing defences and could cause a great deal of trouble for Town’s defence on Saturday if they choose to sit deep and play on the counter.

(Championship top scorers)

Town's Chances

To pull all the strands together into a tidy conclusion, it’s going to be bloody difficult for Town to get anything out of this game. Brentford are a very good team and are currently riding the crest of a wave, whereas we are still somewhat of a work in progress.

I don’t want to overexaggerate and say that I’m worried about this game or that I think we could be on the wrong end of a hiding. However, I’m not overly confident either. Despite picking up an impressive amount of points in our last six games, I think winning at Griffin Park will be a step too far for Danny Cowley’s gradually improving side.

If we were to come away with a point from this fixture I would be more than happy. In fact, if we were to lose narrowly whilst pushing Brentford all the way and carrying out a gameplan I would be happy as well.

Of course, I’d be over the moon if we kept a clean sheet and scored a headed-winner from 25 yards to absolutely shithouse a victory, but lightning very rarely tends to strike twice, or does it?

Anyway, we’ll be back on Monday to discuss everything that happens in this game, until then enjoy your weekend and UTT.

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