A run of five straight Premier League losses in the last month has threatened to derail Brentford’s status as a top-flight club.
For much of the season, the Bees have sat comfortably clear of the drop zone, but with teams below them improving and all holding at least a one-game advantage over the west Londoners, nerves are beginning to jangle.
At this point, it would still take both a monumental collapse and teams in deeper trouble suddenly turning into prime Brazil/Spain/insert historically amazing team here in order for Thomas Frank’s side to be relegated come May. But they could do with picking up some points again just to alleviate any creeping fears.
Brentford were unlucky not to beat Crystal Palace – one of the most established/pure mid-table teams of the Premier League’s last decade – on Saturday, making a string of better chances and resolutely shutting out their south London visitors.
Christian Eriksen – probably the most famous player in Brentford’s history and with a grand total of zero appearances for the club – was presented to the fans prior to kick-off, and a huge ovation greeted him. The Danish midfielder will play in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Monday as he ramps up his recovery ahead of his eventual Bees debut.
The club and player alike have been tentative to circle a date in the calendar regarding when he might make his first Brentford appearance (even more so about completing a full 90 minutes), but there seems half a chance their six-pointer at home to Newcastle in a fortnight might just be the day.
It’s very easy to sit here and say that adding a player of Eriksen’s quality, no matter how diminished by the events of the past year, to Brentford’s squad will be crucial in their survival bid – his chance creation numbers over his whole career speak for themselves.
That may not be the area where they benefit the most, however. The Bees are already pretty proficient at making chances out of nothing, always squeezing new opportunities when the going gets tough and making themselves nuisances from set pieces.
But Frank often bemoans that his sides aren’t ‘lucky’ enough, that they aren’t always rewarded for their attacking exploits and defensive resilience (the latter they have certainly improved upon recently). In Eriksen, they have one of the Premier League’s greatest ever distance shooters and late goal specialists.
?? Christian Eriksen said that he wants to be remembered as a footballer rather than his cardiac arrest.
So I asked him about football.
Here he is talking about his place in #BrentfordFC history & more…@90min_Football https://t.co/IyWOrKTJId
— Sean Walsh (@SeanDZWalsh) February 11, 2022
At Tottenham, Eriksen grabbed 13 crucial late winners or equalisers, while his 23 Premier League strikes from outside the box was a league-high during his years on these shores.
Brentford’s obsession with getting the ball into a ‘position of maximum opportunities’, as well as simply a lack of players who are threatening from range, has limited their routes to goal. Eriksen adds another dimension to Frank’s style in addition to his obvious technical qualities.
Highly-rated midfielder Josh Dasilva is stepping up his return from a long-term hip injury, and his introduction in Saturday’s stalemate with Palace brought fresh impetus to the hosts’ attack, a directness and thrust similar to that which Eriksen will provide.
These two additions alone (or re-addition in the case of Dasilva) will make Brentford a more complete outfit, one that should beat the drop.
Now, as Frank continues to point out, they just need to be a little bit ‘luckier’.
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