The story so far
It took Brentford eight league games to get a win on the board but they are currently riding a five game unbeaten streak in the Championship.
The Bees started the season poorly; losing away to newly promoted Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. They continued to play quite well but didn’t get the rub of the green, for instance the game against Nottingham Forest at home that they somehow lost 4-3, despite dominating throughout. Similarly, when they travelled to Middlesbrough, they played with confidence but still conceded late to draw 2-2.
To say Brentford are currently in a “false” position of 18th is probably correct, but the slow start has given them a very difficult task when it comes to to catching the top six. Twelve points from twelve games with a -1 goal difference seems quite underwhelming from Dean Smith’s men.
Last time out - Brentford 1-0 Millwall
Brentford picked up a valuable three points last time out - they beat Millwall at home 1-0. Romaine Sawyers bagged his first goal of the season in the 47th minute, but the home side were made to sweat when Lee Gregory missed a penalty for Millwall with just ten minutes left on the clock. Brentford had the lion’s share of the possession, but Millwall had the better of the attacking play during the game. Either way, the win last weekend was huge for Brentford as they bid to push up the table.
Ollie Watkins is Brentford's top scorer so far in this campaign with four goals, so he is likely to be the main danger to Sunderland. What is worse is that he is a winger and we have been notoriously bad at full back this season.
Watkins began his career at Exeter where he played seventy-eight games and bagged himself twenty-six goals. He made his debut at the age of 18, coming on as a sub against Hartlepool United. Watkins moved to Weston-super-mare on loan, before returning to Exeter as a first team player until his eventual move to Brentford. The Bees parted with £1.8 million this summer to sign the young prospect - a fee larger than Sunderland's whole transfer spend this summer.
The Manager - Dean Smith
46-year old Dean Smith took charge of Brentford in 2015 after a very solid four years at Walsall. The ‘Ginger Mourinho’ led Walsall from perennial relegation candidates in League one to promotion contenders by the time he departed for Brentford.
Since joining the Bees, Smith has consolidated their position and the team has never finished outside the top twelve during his tenure. His aim now is to take that next step and get the club pushing towards a play-off spot.
The Referee - Darren England
A familiar face will be refereeing on Saturday; England took charge of our recent trip to Hull City in which we drew 1-1. I went to that game and can't recall being too disgruntled by the refereeing that day, and my gut instinct says he’s a decent official. England took charge of the Brentford vs Bolton game just four games ago - the Bees won 3-0.
Brentford offer Sunderland a different kind of opposition this weekend because the Bees like to keep the ball a lot more than pretty much every team we have faced so far this season.
Sunderland will have to be wary of limiting Brentford’s ability to create chances - allowing them to have the majority of the ball is sensible but we need to make sure that we do not allow them to penetrate our defensive line. If we can be solid at the back for a change then we have the chance to exploit Brentford on the counter attack - particularly if Watmore/Mcmanaman/Mcgeady are playing.
Make no bones about it though, going to Griffin Park this weekend and winning will be a difficult task.