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Brentford vs. Tottenham Hotspur Preview: Spurs must reset and respond

The path to the Champions League was never going to be easy.

Tottenham Hotspur v Brentford - Premier League Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Glass half empty says it is time to panic, as Arsenal’s midweek upset has eliminated Tottenham Hotspur’s fourth place lead. Glass half full says things could be much worse: just three weeks ago Spurs were three points down, even with an extra match already played. Regardless of which perspective supporters take, it is clear that emotions can change quite quickly this time of year.

Each team has three matches before that biggest North London Derby in years. On paper, Arsenal’s schedule of Manchester United, West Ham, and Leeds looks a little trickier than Spurs’ trio of Brentford, Leicester, and Liverpool, but there are no free points from any remaining fixture. Tottenham could really benefit from having any sort of advantage in the table heading into the derby.

Brentford enters the weekend in pretty good form, having won five of six including taking down Chelsea and West Ham. A true mid-table side, the Bees are just about even in goal difference and xGD, so this is another winnable match for Spurs but not one for sleepwalking through. Regardless of the competition, the visitors need to regroup after last week and find a way to win.

Brentford (t-12th, 39 pts) vs. Tottenham Hotspur (t-4th, 57pts)

Date: Saturday, April 23
Time: 12:30 pm ET, 5:30 pm UK
Location: Brentford Community Stadium, London, England
TV: NBC (USA), Sky Sports Main Event (UK)

Tottenham was maybe a little unlucky to leave last weekend with a loss, but this team was nowhere close to deserving a win. The backline did its part until Cristian Romero’s unfortunate miscue, but that was about the only positive. Credit to Brighton for setting up well, but Spurs have no excuses for that effort.

It was very disappointing to see the front three so absent. Heung-Min Son and Dejan Kulusevski were uncharacteristically poor and Harry Kane could not find a way to make an impact at all. Brentford has been quite solid defensively as of late (five goals allowed in six), so Spurs’ playmakers are going to have to show their ability to actually create some shots.

The other issue against the Seagulls was in midfield, where there were too many balls lost and transition chances broken up. Antonio Conte is ok with ceding possession, but that means his side has to make the most of its opportunities when it does win the ball. This did not happen at all last weekend, leading to a shocking 0.4 xG effort.

Three themes

  1. Spurs were in control last time the sides met, which was early into Conte’s tenure. Brentford put in an early own goal, which held up for most of the match before a Kane-Sergio Reguilon-Son counter put the home side up 2-0, providing more than enough cushion for all three points.
  2. Aside from the attackers, Tottenham will need some other players to step up. The loss of Matt Doherty has limited the ceiling of the wingbacks, though there is still a lot of opportunity there, as Reguilon demonstrated in the first fixture. Look for Rodrigo Bentancur to bounce back after last week and hopefully spring a few threatening moves.
  3. Everything is under a microscope right now, as it should be when margins are thin. Arsenal get a reeling United squad a few hours before Spurs kick off. Matching results is the bare minimum, but this could be a chance for Tottenham to rebuild the cushion a little after a rough past week.