West Bromwich Albion and Brentford met yet again this season, despite Albion’s eventual promotion back to the Premier League, in what turned out to be a thrilling cup tie by the end.
This much-changed Baggies side started the game brightly, controlling the ball well and looking threatening on the attack. Conor Gallagher looked particularly impressive, and fired a shot narrowly over in the opening ten minutes.
The Baggies maintained this period of pressure nicely and looked in control, except for Emiliano Marcondes’ low-driven shot rebounding off the post 21 minutes in.
Perhaps most notably, Branislav Ivanovic looked calm and composed in the first half, and snuffed out any notable danger. His lack of pace is clear and will not outpace many defenders this season; however, he signaled well to David Button when he needed assistance. Of course, the former Brentford man was happy to oblige, given how well he commands his area.Embed from Getty Images
The second half picked up where the first half ended with a moment of madness from Mads Bech Sorenson. The Brentford defender lunged in on Hal Robson-Kanu and gave away a penalty, which was neatly converted by the Welsh international.Embed from Getty Images
Marcondes equalised just two minutes later with a spectacular bicycle kick, which neither Button nor Cedric Kipre could have done much about.
There were then two more penalties in the game: Robson-Kanu converted his second penalty of the game after 66 minutes, while former Baggie youth Marcus Forss scored a penalty of his own after 73 minutes.
The game was naturally decided by penalties and saw Brentford narrowly go through (4-5).Embed from Getty Images
What will perhaps be most pleasing for Slaven Bilic will be his side’s defending of set pieces and aerial balls. This was a huge problem in the games against Leicester City and Everton, with the back line and goalkeeper beaten every time.
Button, Kipre and Ivanovic were all solid in the air, regularly claiming balls or clearing them. This will no doubt give Bilic food for thought against a physical Chelsea side, which hosts a number of aerial threats such as Kai Havertz and Tammy Abraham. Will Ivanovic be given his Albion Premier League debut against his former side?
Bilic will also be happy to have seen a confident, attacking performance from Conor Townsend; Kieran Gibbs is suspended for the next two games, so Bilic will likely place his trust in Townsend in his 3-4-3. Any fears over Townsend’s lack of attacking ability may be tamed after this performance.
Gallagher showed promising signs and was lively throughout his debut – he topped off his performance with a calm panenka in the penalty shootout. Robson-Kanu converted his penalties well and Sam Field was equally impressive playing defensive midfield.
Match Ratings: Button (6), Peltier (6), Kipre (7), Ivanovic (7), Townsend (7), Field (7), Harper (6), Phillips (6), Gallagher (8), Edwards (6), Robson-Kanu (7). Subs: O’Shea (6), Diangana (5), Austin (N/A).
WBA: Button; Peltier, Kipre, Ivanovic (O’Shea 59′), Townsend; Harper, Field; Edwards, Gallagher, Phillips (Diangana 71′); Robson-Kanu (Austin 85′).
Brentford: Raya; Henry, Goode, Sorensen, Thompson; Zamburek (Da Silva 66′), Baptiste, Marcondes (Toney 71′); Canos (Norgaard 66′), Forss, Fosu-Henry.