The secret to Brentford’s comeback victory over West Ham was really quite rudimentary. Put dangerous crosses into the Hammers’ box, watch chaos ensue and find a way to stick the ball into the back of the net. Rinse, repeat.
That isn’t an attempt to pigeonhole the Bees’ attack as one-dimensional. Instead, it is another example of Thomas Frank’s side playing to their strengths quite brilliantly. After all, they are the Premier League’s crossing kings.
Six teams have made more crosses than Brentford this season, but crucially no side has been more accurate. They are bang on the money more often than not and are reaping the rewards.
They proved they can still be dangerous even when they don’t achieve perfection, too. The opener came from a floaty, overhit Vitaly Janelt ball. It caused mayhem in the Hammers’ box, with Tomas Soucek opting to keep the ball in play, rather than allow it to drop out for a goal kick.
Frank Onyeka picked up the loose ball and saw his scuffed volley nodded in from close range by Neal Maupay, the Frenchman ending a 412-day wait for a Premier League goal.
Thomas Frank hugs Neal Maupay after the French striker scored during Brentford’s win
Six teams have made more crosses than Brentford this season, but crucially no side has been more accurate.
Brentford’s second came from the boot of Bryan Mbeumo and it was the kind of delivery that defenders have sleepless nights about. Whipped in with pace towards the far post, the stretching Konstantinos Mavropanos only managed to nod the ball past his own goalkeeper.
The winner came from one of Brentford’s great Danes, Mathias Jensen. The midfielder has a higher cross-completion rate than any other player to have attempted at least 30 this season and he landed the ball right on the forehead of defender Nathan Collins, who nodded home the winner.
‘We are very big on crossing the ball, I’m a big believer of that because it’s very difficult to defend,’ said Brentford boss Frank.
‘The last two goals, Bryan’s and Mathias’s crosses were very good. They’re our two set-piece takers so I expect more from them but both were good… Mathias’s was world-class.’
A defender in his playing days, West Ham boss David Moyes said he was ‘disgusted’ with the way his team dealt with the aerial assault. The Scot likened their defending for the first goal to watching slapstick comedy Keystone Cops.
It had been a promising first half for the visitors, who responded well to falling behind as Mohammed Kudus’s spectacular volley and Jarrod Bowen’s goal put them in front. They could and should have put the game out of sight.
Instead, they made the short trip back across the capital still without a league win since September after Brentford’s second-half comeback.
‘Coming out at half-time, it was really important we got the third goal but we gave away a couple of really poor goals from our perspective,’ said Moyes. ‘If we had been defensively strong, we’d have got chances. We didn’t do enough good things to stop them getting momentum.’
Brentford centre back James Collins headed home a strong winner from yet another cross
MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS
BRENTFORD (4-3-3): Flekken 5.5 (Strakosha 46min, 6); Ajer 6 (Roerslev 79), Collins 7, Pinnock 6.5, Janelt 6.5 (Mee 90); Onyeka 6.5, Norgaard 7, Jensen 7.5 (Yarmolyuk 78); Mbeumo 6.5, Maupay 6.5, Wissa 6 (Ghoddos 89).
Scorers: Maupay 11, Mavropanos 55 (og), Collins 69.
Manager: Thomas Frank 7
West Ham (4-4-2): Areola 5.5; Coufal 6, Mavropanos 5, Aguerd 5.5, Emerson 5.5; Kudus 6.5, Soucek 6, Ward-Prowse 6, Benrahma 6 (Fornals 64, 6); Bowen 6, Antonio 6 (Ings 64, 5.5).
Scorers: Kudus 19, Bowen 26.
Booked: Emerson, Soucek, Moyes, Mavropanos, Ings.
Manager: David Moyes 6.
Referee: Thomas Bramall 5.