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Thomas Talks… Turning the spark to flame

Report from the post-match written press conference after Saturday's match against Arsenal

21 February 2022

Two second half goals condemned Brentford to defeat against Arsenal at The Emirates Stadium. Brentford defended superbly for long periods and went in at half time all square despite spells of sustained pressure from the home side but the hosts struck early in the second half and a second goal inside the final 15 minutes proved to be the winner.

Christian Nørgaard scored in the dying seconds for The Bees, but Arsenal it was not enough to deny the hosts. 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 he had to say..........

All about us

“We focus on the next training and the next game. That’s the most important – no the only – thing. We've done that the whole season, the last three seasons, so it's only about us and not what other teams around us are doing.”

Things being relative

“We’ve played Arsenal, a side fighting for a top four place, and Manchester City, a relatively good side, and we didn’t create that much. But then against Crystal Palace we created enough to win the game.”

Baring our teeth

“I'm not too worried about it [not creating and scoring freely] but I'm aware we need to create more if possible. I’m sure the extra quality will come as players like Josh Dasilva get stronger and more match fit, so it was a good investment to get minutes into him.

“Ivan Toney is a big player for us and he will hopefully be available for Newcastle. And then Christian Eriksen comes into the team, hopefully also next week. So I'm convinced we will create enough to score goals.”

Not feeling sorry for ourselves

“It’s happened to every team in the Premier League in the bottom 10 for the past decade or so. You have spells like this and it's a clear pattern. Is it tough to be in it? Yes. Is there anything we can do about it? Yes. We can focus on ourselves, do everything we can to get out of it. And most importantly, not feel sorry for ourselves.”

Nurturing confidence

“One victory will do a lot… definitely. And I don't think that's very far away. I think it should have come in at least one of the last five games we’ve played but for whatever reason it didn't. So it’s keep believing, keep doing what we have done well and continue.”

Progressing with set pieces

“The last five games in the Premier League we've given zero goals away on defensive set pieces. That’s a big plus when you consider the sides we’ve played. And again at Arsenal I think we defended very well, especially in the first half.”

Giving the ball away

“Arsenal are a very good side who have done well and come a long way this season. They're one of the big contenders for the top four the way they play, but we defended fantastically in the first half and gave no big chances away. They had the ball a lot and a lot of set pieces, but the big thing was that we gave the ball away too easily, too cheaply. We need to do better in that aspect.”

Letting the quality shine

“We created more opportunities in the second half but were undone by two transitions where we should have done better. But we also have to give Arsenal credit for that the bit of quality. We know we have quality ourselves and as we get back to full strength I’m confident we’ll start showing it.”

Keeping stock of Bukayo Saka

“His goal was a difficult one. There were bits we could have done further up the pitch to prevent his goal but I’d have been even more frustrated if we allowed him to combine around the box. But I think we controlled him and the game in general quite well. The first goal, from Emile Smith Rowe, was the decisive situation I think we needed to avoid.”

Bryan and Yoane

“I think they did relatively well. The partnership looked more dangerous in the second half when we had some quite good situations that could have given us more. Bryan also got in some good situations so I think the future looks promising with the two of them together.”

Staying positive… believing in what we do

“There's no doubt that the toughest thing is to go through these spells because you don't get the natural energy that comes from a win. But it’s all about getting through them unscathed. The only way we’ll do that is by staying positive, by doing what we believe in, by being consistent and not veering all over the place. That is the massive key.”

Assessing performances

“If you look at the performances, that's a big positive that gives us real confidence that things will start dropping for us and the ball will hit the back of the net. If the performances stay good, then suddenly everything will just open up.”

Nicking wins

“A big plus is that actually in a spell where we had more injuries we still managed to nick some wins against Watford, Everton and Aston Villa. But in all those games we weren’t as strong as we've been in terms of squad and players who were ready ready as we are now and hopefully for the Newcastle game. So I'm quite confident going forward.”

Keeping perspective

“If you look at the last four or five games they’ve been against relatively big clubs and it would be a disaster if they lost points to us, but we’ve actually performed well defensively for the most part.”

Building on what we’ve got

“I want more but if you look at us in terms of the other teams below us, they would prefer to be in our position. So for me it’s one game at a time, one training session at a time. Before the season, one game at a time and trying to end as high as possible were the simple targets. I still think that's a mindset that will take us far.”

Scraping a win

“I would love a scrappy 1-0 but obviously I’d prefer a fantastic, top performance. But we’re a newly promoted team with the lowest budget that’s done fantastically well so far in the Premier League, and I'm convinced we’ll do very well going forward.

“Of course I’d love a win and I don't care how we get it. We’d like to do it in a way that we've done the whole season. And I'm convinced that if we do continue with these performances, it will start to drop for us.”

Christian Eriksen edging closer

“He’ll play in a game behind closed doors, train, recover and then work with the boys as normal on Thursday and Friday. We made a plan from the beginning and we want to take it week by week, but physically he’s in a fine place.

“Fitness-wise Christian was a bit further forward when he started with us so didn’t need the same time to get up to pace as Josh Dasilva did, but we wanted to put him in the best physical and mental place.”

Investing in JDS

“The same with Josh. It was tough to play him at Arsenal where we were running after the ball a lot but it was a good investment and he’s now had good minutes with the B Team and two or three sub appearances, he was okay to start.”

Turning the spark to a flame

“Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and remind ourselves that we were very good at the beginning of the season and decent in the middle when we picked up points at Newcastle, Leeds, Watford and Villa.

“We’ve just had a tricky spell against four of the biggest clubs in the world. And because it's in that order the narrative starts spinning the wrong way. So as anyone who’s been in this business a long time knows, it’s about staying calm and being consistent in our messages and communication which is not always easy.”

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