Talking Tactics

Can Brentford strike the right balance against Everton?

By Adrian Clarke 20 Sep 2023

Adrian Clarke says Thomas Frank is likely to return to his favoured 4-3-3 formation against Everton

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Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 6.


Thomas Frank’s adaptable tactical outlook will see Brentford revert to a 4-3-3 when they host winless Everton.

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The Bees went with a relatively pragmatic 5-3-2 when facing Newcastle United last time out, as well as in their opening-weekend 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur.

Head coach Frank prefers to use a lower block against the division’s stronger sides, choosing to crowd space inside their own half before breaking at speed.

However, against other Premier League opponents, Brentford replace a defender with an extra forward, and play with a far more proactive style.

Kevin Schade usually comes in on the left, with four-goal Bryan Mbeumo shifting to a slightly wider role to the right of Yoane Wissa.

This is how we expect them to line up against Everton.

Defensively exposed

As a result of Brentford’s overall progress, visiting sides now tend to sit off and put men behind the ball at the Gtech Community Stadium.

The Bees have had a 61.1 per cent and 59.8 per cent share of possession in their home draws against AFC Bournemouth and Crystal Palace this season respectively - and in both matches defensive vulnerabilities were exposed.

Brentford struggled to find the right balance and left themselves open to breakaways.

In an end-to-end encounter with Andoni Iraola’s Bournemouth, there were a combined five Expected Goals (xG), and Frank’s side also lost the shot count 15-12 in the match against Palace.

Since the start of last season, Brentford have had 50+ per cent of possession on seven occasions at home, keeping a clean sheet only once.

The aim will be to assert a degree of more measured control against Everton.

Midfield rotation

One of Brentford’s most underrated strengths is the rounded quality of their three-man central midfield.

Christian Norgaard, Mathias Jensen and Vitaly Janelt all offer plenty with and without the ball, and as a trio this allows them to freely rotate positions.

Check out the astonishing spread of their touches (below) in Brentford’s last home match against Bournemouth.

Christian Norgaard v AFC Bournemouth
Christian Norgaard v AFC Bournemouth
Mathias Jensen v AFC Bournemouth
Mathias Jensen v AFC Bournemouth
Janelt/Onyeka v AFC Bournemouth
Janelt/Onyeka v AFC Bournemouth

Frank does not ask his midfielders to cover designated areas, and they are in no way fixed in their positioning.

Off the ball, they hunt in packs when searching for regains, and when Brentford attack they take turns at going forward.

Jensen's MW4 goal v Bournemouth

All of this makes them  fluid and unpredictable, so Saturday's duel against a more structured Everton midfield will be interesting.

It would not be a surprise to see a corner or wide free-kick decide matters in this match.

Both clubs have created a host of goalscoring opportunities from set-pieces across the early weeks, registering a combined 50 efforts so far.

PL teams' set-piece threat 23/24
Team Set-piece shots
Brentford 26
Spurs 25
Everton 24
Man City 22
Liverpool 22
Chelsea 22

Central defenders Ethan Pinnock, Ben Mee, James Tarkowski and Jarrad Branthwaite will be obvious targets, as will Everton's recent signing Beto, while Bees forward Wissa is also someone to look out for.

Wissa has already had three shots from set-plays, a joint-high in the league, and has had a competition-leading six headed shots so far this season.

Also in this series

Part 2: How Koleosho's pace and trickery can trouble Man Utd
Part 3: Why Kulusevski is the player Arsenal must fear most
Part 4: Can Chelsea kickstart revival by matching Villa's finishing?

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