Brentford will want to continue their strong Premier League start against neighbours Chelsea
Brentford will want to continue their strong Premier League start against neighbours Chelsea

Brentford will be licking their lips at the prospect of another upset when Chelsea come to town tonight.

Thomas Frank’s side have already beaten Arsenal and drawn with Liverpool at their new ground, meaning they will not fear a visit from the European Champions.

But can the Bees really sting the Blues and continue their impressive start? We assess where the game will be won and lost.

Defensive discipline

For all the talk of Brentford’s attacking threat, it is their solidity at the back that has been key.

Though they shipped three against Liverpool in a wild game, outside of that the Bees have only conceded three goals in six games.

A change in formation from 4-3-3 to 3-5-2 in April sparked an important change for Frank’s men.

They only conceded a further four goals in nine games and that fine defensive form has carried on in the top-flight, with three clean sheets already in the bank.

Frank will be hammering home the importance of keeping their discipline at the back once again against Chelsea.

Brentford have proven a physical and direct side at times this season in the Premier League
Brentford have proven a physical and direct side at times this season in the Premier League

Physical match

Everyone loves Brentford — until they watch their side play against them.

The Bees’ rise to the top-flight has been an underdog story and they still play good football at times, but they also have a nasty streak.

Time-wasting and disrupting the game in that manner is one of their tools, though it is the physical side of their game where they will hope to gain an advantage against Chelsea.

Thiago Silva is unavailable having played 90 minutes for Brazil in the early hours of Friday morning, with Antonio Rudiger also absent for the visitors.

The absence of two key defensive players will mean Tuchel is left with a selection dilemma as to how to combat the strengths of Brentford's forward line.

Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo linked up effectively against Liverpool and will pose a stiff test to Chelsea's defensive resolve, too.

Reds skipper Jordan Henderson spoke of the threat that Toney and Mbuemo posed his side with the former winning more aerial duels (41) than any other player in the Premier League.

Henderson said: “He was great, so was Mbeumo. We knew before the game they would both be a handful.

“It’s a bit old school. They are really good in the air with decent feet. He’s good around the box, they are good finishers.”

Back to front

The Bees waste absolutely no time in getting the ball forward.

Only Burnley and Brighton have attempted more long passes than them, while they have had the least amount of touches in the league.

While the fashion in football now is to pass the ball out from the back, Frank’s side tend to ignore that trend.

If Chelsea do dominate possession, they need to be wary of the speed in which the Bees will try to counter-attack when they can.

Ivan Toney has proven a lethal threat in the air for Brentford as they push forward
Ivan Toney has proven a lethal threat in the air for Brentford as they push forward

Set-pieces

Brentford have fast proven themselves one of the more imaginative teams in the league from set-pieces.

Their equaliser against Liverpool came as a result of a well-worked training ground routine and they have netted four goals in that vein already — only Chelsea and Liverpool have more.

Only Burnley win more aerial duels than the Bees and that is an area they can look to hurt Tuchel’s side, especially with Silva and Rudiger out of the equation.

The Blues have only shipped one goal from a set-piece this season but this may be their sternest challenge yet.

Brentford skipper Pontus Jansson said: "We have a tall team, we know we are dangerous, we use a lot of time on the training ground on these routines.

"We believe this is the way to hurt the bigger teams."

Pressing issues

Brentford’s high press has caused problems for everyone they have faced this season.

But the Blues have a squad capable of either playing through it or playing over it.

Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner are beginning to show signs of understanding and the Belgian should provide the Bees’ defence with a challenging afternoon.

Tuchel has shown himself to be flexible with how Chelsea set up and if they find themselves pressed high, he will be more than happy for Eduoard Mendy and his backline to hit Lukaku.

Playing with a high line has got Brentford into trouble in the past and they will have to be careful to not get caught out with the nippy Werner playing off their big-money summer signing.

LiveScore columnist Joleon Lescott also believes that the Blues’ press and organisation could cause issues for Bees if they try to keep the ball.

Lescott said: “Brentford are going really well and they went toe-to-toe with Liverpool which really suited them. 

“However, I think it will be a different type of game against Chelsea — I can see the Blues suffocating them in transition and the Bees struggling to get out.”

Read more: Joleon Lescott column and Matchday 8 predictions

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ChelseaBrentfordPremier League

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