As we head into a crucial London derby against Brentford, whereby anything other than 3 points will do, we catch up with Mark Carlaw to get the lowdown on our opponents.
What are your initial thoughts going into this encounter?
It’s huge, I think this has to be David Moyes’ most testing time as manager and this truly is the definition of must win.
Brentford beat us both home & away last season and that was when we finished 7th, so there is no getting away from how tough this is likely to be.
I don’t think there will be many going into this match brimming with confidence, especially when you consider how poor our second half showing against arsenal was. I have concerns Brentford’s pace and power will cause us problems – this is a game we need to be highly organised and focused throughout.
Let’s start with their threats and what David Moyes needs to be looking at with keeping them at bay?
As say they have plenty of pace and their transitions are something we need to be very focused on. They have a habit of exploiting defences that are guilty of switching off which is a big worry.
Considering this is a game we have to win, us going all out could play into their hands, with a talent to break at speed and quality. As much as we need to take the game to them, David Moyes must be mindful that they carry this deadly threat. If they go one up the atmosphere will likely turn toxic, which Moyes cannot afford to happen.
Another thing that impresses me with Brentford is that they cross the ball very well, it’s a more old school approach but it’s so effective, especially with the players they have.
Rico Henry is a player we need to keep quiet and the fact our right back position has been an issue for some time, I fear he’ll be licking his lips to be up against us.
The other obvious threat from them is Ivan Toney who’s a top finisher who thrives from good deliveries. West Ham will have to do everything to nullify the service to him, as he doesn’t need many chances.
They have a good record from set pieces too, with players like Ben Mee typically dangerous from getting on the end of Mathias Jensens crosses, and even throw ins. Again we cannot afford to switch off, focus is key and Moyes must instil this in his players.
What can we look at when attacking them?
Well like I said they are dangerous from corners, and typically flood the box aggressively in large numbers. If I was David Moyes I’d want to expose this.
If we can regain possession we could look to break fast and get Antonio chasing the channels, with the likes of Bowen and Paqueta looking to support him at pace.
They do concede goals so that’s a big positive and we must look to attack them when we can. Brentford tend to play a high line so getting Antonio in behind will be a aim throughout I imagine. We’ll need Michail to be in good form and fitness as this is his type of approach.
They tend to defend with man to man rather than zonal. Again this can be exploited if we use the talents of our creative players well. I’d say we need to get the ball to Paqueta and if selected, Fornals. Who both have the ability to spot good passes, with the likes of Bowen and Antonio looking to be thread through.
Turnovers are when they are at their weakest it seems so plenty of energy and pace needs to be put into effect when we regain possession. Dare I say it, having them in possession more may suit us rather than them sitting back, which they could look to do.
So what’s your conclusion in the opposition and what do you envisage for this match?
Well it’s crucial, there is no disguising how important this is and David Moyes is aware of the pressure mounting.
Brentford and a well organised and powerful side, who are more than capable of inflicting damage on is. The key message tomorrow especially with our defence and midfield is focus. We cannot afford to switch off and let them provide the service to Toney who can be lethal.
My main worry is their left side, with Henry likely to cause us all sorts of problems. Moyes has to get this spot on and a poor showing in this position could prove the difference in this match.
Brentford do concede though, with counter attacks from us needing to be spot on as we look to get in behind their back line.
With how things are we just cannot let them go ahead, the fans will likely turn and that will play into their hands. I am sure Thomas Frank will get that message over to them so we cannot let it happen.
I am not confident but I am expecting a response from the Arsenal game. It won’t be good enough but on the face of it I think a draw wouldn’t be a horrendous result, but of course we must be doing everything to win this.