As Thomas Frank said after Brentford’s 2-0 defeat of Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux on Saturday, the Bees “are one of the good defensive sides in the league”.
Now, prior to that match, the west Londoners had conceded eight goals in three matches against Wolves in the last six weeks and they had also let in 39 goals in 22 games. That was a stark contrast to Brentford conceding 46 in the whole 38-game campaign last season.
What that does indicate is a tricky few months for Frank and his side but, as many expected, Brentford may well have come through that sticky patch with some much-improved performances, aided by the return of key players from injury or, in the case of Ivan Toney, suspension.
Another boost is the arrival of left-back Sergio Reguilón. The former Real Madrid man, who signed from Tottenham Hotspur on loan in the January transfer window, has been signed to cover the gap left by the injured and extremely impressive Rico Henry on the left side of defence.
Admittedly it is still very early in his career at Gtech Community Stadium but the 27-year-old defender ranks top of the list for tackles won (3.3) and passes blocked (1.7) per game among Brentford players in the Premier League so far this season.
He has also been complemented by the balance of Brentford’s back three, consisting of Ben Mee, Ethan Pinnock and Nathan Collins. The attributes of the defensive trio suit each. Pinnock is most aerially dominant, winning four aerial duels per match on average, while Collins loses fewer duels on average than the other two at 1.2 per game.
Pinnock tops the clearances list for the Premier League league with 141 made this season with Collins, despite absences due to injury, coming in at 16th with 85.
The Republic of Ireland international returned to his former club at the weekend and put in an excellent performance, marauding forward with the ball at times as well as making challenges that would lead almost directly to Brentford springing forward and creating a chance.
That last line is perhaps the most pleasing aspect for Frank as his side rediscover their swift transitional play that has seen them really establish themselves in the top flight.
Being extremely awkward to play against with direct and efficient attacking patterns of play, summarised well by the one-touch play following an interception deep in Wolves territory that led to the second goal and Ivan Toney’s third since returning on Saturday, is a clear sign that Brentford are beginning to trend upwards once again.