Brentford vs. Preston North End: Match Preview

While the season is done and dusted for both Preston and Brentford, Sunday’s game is a chance to finish the 2018-19 campaign on a positive note and in the top half of the table.

After an impressive run of four wins in five games back in late February/early March, the Bees suddenly became a rather interesting 16/1 shot for a top six finish.

But after registering just 12 points in the following 10 games, Brentford, like Preston, found themselves drifting towards a season of mid-table nothingness.

Comparatively, Preston have recorded just 13 points in the last 10 fixtures, while sixth place Derby County have earned 17 points in the same number of games.

For both Preston and Brentford, then, this season has been the definition of a “mixed bag”.

Both teams have won, drawn and lost in identical numbers. And both teams boast a similar goal difference.

However, when you delve a little deeper into these basic stats, the major distinctions emerge.

Brentford are a much more creative attacking force.
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They have scored 8 more goals from open play than PNE, have on average 0.9 more shots on target per match and have created 8 more big chances this season.

Continuing with this theme of creativity, the Bees complete a considerable amount more accurate passes than Preston per game and also boast a greater average possession rate.

Where have Brentford gone wrong then?

Quite simply it has been a synthesis of both on-pitch inconsistency and off-pitch disruption.

Travel sickness has been another major issue.

Brentford have won just twice on the road all season in the league, meaning it has been one of their worst seasons away from home in the club’s history. And in all past seasons with a comparable away record, the club have been relegated.

Thankfully for the Bees, they have turned Griffin Park into a fortress, and if the season was based upon home form alone, Brentford would be fourth.

Luckily it isn’t, because Preston would find themselves in 15th. Gotta love those hypotheticals.

Another striking similarity between the Bees and the Lilywhites is their faith in youth.

Brentford top the tables in terms of their squad’s average age based on % played, at 25.069. Preston sit two places behind the Bees in third, with an average age of 25.764.

Arguably, what both Brentford and Preston require is an injection of experience at Championship level.

By no means am I talking players within the 30 to 35 age bracket. Rather, players with the nous and know-how at this level.

Brentford currently have a melting pot of different backgrounds within their ranks. Jeanvier plied his trade in France, Dasilva in the youth ranks of Arsenal and Watkins at Exeter. A couple of proven Championship players certainly wouldn’t go amiss.

All that said and done, Brentford really do require just minor tweaks to an already incredibly promising squad.

Likewise, Preston have the ingredients for a top six finish, but just need a couple of minor adjustments and a dose of good fortune.

Opposition’s Corner

I caught up with Brentford fanatic Nathan Newnham to find out exactly how his side have got on this season:

It’s been a whirlwind season for many Bees fans. A season with such hope and optimism that ended with so little.

The start of the season was wonderful. We were top two for the first few weeks and found ourselves generally flirting with the playoffs. But six games before Dean Smith left to Aston Villa we started a run of games which saw us winless in six.

He then left and Thomas Frank took over. A wise appointment considering Frank’s huge range of managerial experience abroad.
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He took over from a bad run and lost his first three games. Then the technical director died, a huge part of the scouting team and a loved guy on the training ground.

So a team already low on confidence had another huge blow and lost another five games before we earned a good point at West Brom.

From there, Thomas Frank sorted out the defence and we have only lost one home game since December, scoring many goals in the process and recording some big wins – notably against QPR, Leeds, Villa and Middlesbrough.

This upturn in form propelled us from 21st to 12th and we now have the chance of a top ten finish for the fifth consecutive year.

The manager has forged a great bond with the fans, applauding after every game. Fist pumping and chest pumping too. He is certainly a hugely popular figure at the club.

With the introduction of club legend Kevin O’Connor to the coaching team we have a great balance.
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Our star players have been Maupay, Benrahma and Watkins, who have scored 44 goals between them. If Frank is backed and we can keep hold of Watkins, Benrahma and Maupay we will be well on course for the playoffs next year.

Also, moving into a new ground after 114 years fills us fans with a lot of optimism for the future. We can start to compete properly in this division and bring in more income.

Our away form this year has really let us down. But only being 12 points off the playoffs shows how just a few more away wins, a better defence and more consistency could see us really create success.

In terms of Saturday, I think you’re a decent side and operate in a great way. Similar to us in the way you work on a low budget and over achieve. I admire the manager’s effective football which has achieved success at other clubs too.
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If Preston invest long term I can see you going up not too far down the line.

On Sunday though I back a Brentford win purely because of our home form. I think the players and manager will also be motivated to finish in the top ten as well as put on a show for the fans.

2-1 Bees.

Town End Talk Predicts

2-1 Brentford.

The Bees have won four in their last five home meetings against Preston and we haven’t done the double over Brentford since the 80s.

History has an annoying habit of repeating itself and therefore I struggle to look past a final day defeat.

We also haven’t won away from home on the final day of the season since we beat Bristol City 2-0 on the 6th May, 2000.

Add to this Brentford’s terrific home form and we are in for an arduous afternoon.

The Bees love to attack at a frenetic pace and their three interchangeable attackers make Brentford a difficult team to defend against. This was evident in the reverse fixture at Deepdale back in October. PNE stormed into a three goal lead, before finding themselves holding on by a thread in game that finished 4-3.

Our defenders are mobile and will cope better than most, but Brentford look frightening going forward at times.

My biggest concern is our lack of a defensive midfielder.

Ben Pearson will be left out for fear of a four game suspension and Ledson remains unavailable.
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While Johnson provided immense cover on Saturday against Sheffield Wednesday, Brentford are an entirely different beast.

They possess much more pace and this may be something that Gallagher and Johnson struggle to contend with, meaning the creation of gaps which the Bees can exploit.

Whatever the result, we can certainly look forward to an entertaining game of football between two sides with a similar footballing philosophy.

Safe travels to anyone heading to Griffin Park and we hope you enjoy the game.