Brentford suffered only their second defeat of the Premier League on Saturday. The Bees were beaten 1-0 by current UEFA Champions League holders and league leaders Chelsea and will consider themselves unlucky after hitting the post twice and creating numerous other chances. After the game, Thomas Frank spoke to the written press via a video call. Jim Levack, who has covered Brentford for many years for Press Association, among others, reports on what Thomas had to say..........
Fearing no one
“The Chelsea game was a big step forward but it's tough to be in this world because it's so painful not to win or especially to lose. It’s so painful it burns in your body. "But there is definitely also an OK feeling because we performed so well against a very good team, and that gives me and the players something to hold on to and that builds the confidence that we can go toe to toe with anyone.
"We’ve played three of the usual top six in Arsenal, Liverpool, and Chelsea, and this game was the game that we 100 per cent deserved three points. The Arsenal game we won fair and square, but we weren’t as dominant as today.”
“In the last 20 to 25 minutes we totally dominated the European Champions, and throughout the game we allowed them to have five shots. Five shots! That’s crazy. It's unheard of when you are playing the number one in Premier League and Champions League winners so I think that should give us a lot of confidence. Of course, they dominated on the ball for the first 60 minutes but without being dangerous.”
Can we play you again?
“It was a fine goal for Ben Chilwell, but we need to do better in that situation. Then we changed it and put a striker in behind the front two and we managed to put massive pressure on Chelsea and created five 100 per cent chances, plus others, so there should only be one winner in that game - and that is us.
"If that game was played again tomorrow we’d win it. It's crazy when you look at the stats and the chances. Nine out of 10 times we would have won it, which is impressive.”
Man of the match goalkeer keeper Édouard Mendy was the Blues match-winner and Thomas was quick to remind him of the fact at full time.
“He was the main reason we didn't win. He was absolutely world class and he's been crazy good for Chelsea, so I just said to him it was a little bit annoying that he was so good, and I just praised him. If you want to win anything you need to have a fab keeper and number nine. We managed to keep Romelu Lukaku quiet but unfortunately we couldn't get past Mendy.
"If you look at Chelsea, they should praise themselves because in terms of how many chances we’ve created it's very good they have a good keeper or they wouldn't have been number one in the league.”
A hint of regret
“The only thing that I'm thinking is should I have changed the pressure a tiny bit before, but I think when you create five big chances you can't really ask for any more. Normally when the big teams play each other it’s maybe one or two chances created, so no I’m not sure there’s any regret because we did everything we wanted. On another day it works.”
Making his Marcus
Marcus Forss’ role just behind the front two was almost the catalyst for a memorable win, and Thomas was quick to spotlight his involvement.
“I think he did well. It was something we’d trained on that he could come in to that 10 role with the two strikers in front of him, and he played a big part in creating chances and kept the press up so that was very good.”
Bryan’s fine margins
Bryan Mbeumo hit the woodwork twice, but Thomas is unworried.
“He was a constant threat for the game. He got on the end of at least two chances but it’s all about margins. It might be a good keeper, that little bit of quality and those margins and that can always vary a little bit from game to game. Next time the margins will be on his side.”
“Our defensive performance was crazy. We are playing against the European Champions, number one in the Premier League and we are giving five shots away. They have five players named in the Ballon D’or list in that squad. That’s crazy. We want to make a statement in the Premier League, we want to be an asset and want to do everything we can and were unlucky not to win and I’m glad they’ve acknowledged that at Chelsea.”
The fans’ fortress
“They are part of our squad and it’s so important. This needs to be a difficult place for ANY team to come and visit, not just the big teams. We want to make our home a fortress and I think the fans have made it a very difficult place to come and play. They were amazing, and we need them going forward.
"They deserve so much praise. They were really really incredible, and we are pleased and proud and humbled that they stayed behind to praise and applaud us after the game. To be fair, I also think we gave them quite a good performance.”
“Vitaly Janelt has something with his thigh. It’s a little bit unknown but I think it might be at least two or three weeks but let's see. Yoane Wissa got a knock in training, a contact with the ankle and twist so hopefully he’s only out for two weeks, but let's see how it progresses.”
Using the aching pain
“To say it feels quite undeserving (to lose) is not the word. There must be a bigger word than that, but for me there was only one winner and that was us, but we will take a lot from the game.”
Thomas was quick to pay tribute to Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce, who hit 1,000 games as a manager in Newcastle’s clash with Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
“I think to hit that total is extremely impressive and I just want to say congratulations. I think it's fantastic when you manage to reach 1,000 games in this crazy crazy football world, and also in terms of the situation he's been put in with all the media and press. I think he's done fantastically.”
And a few quotes from Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel
“We managed to keep a lot of pressure away from Mendy during the first 65 minutes, but they were still there. For the first 65 we were good, but for the last 25 we were lucky. Brentford were always dangerous on set pieces, they put a lot of free-kicks, corners, free-kicks into your box so it’s a constant threat. They showed a lot of resolve and spirit.
"The last 25 minutes it turned into a cup game, they took a lot of risks and got a lot of bodies into our box and we could not keep them away from shooting and having the big chances, so it was absolutely decisive to escape with the clean sheet.”