Brentford end winless run to send Sheff Utd closer to relegation

Brentford ended a nine-game winless streak that had left their top-flight status in the balance by securing a 2-0 victory that pushes Sheffield United closer to Premier League relegation.

An immediate return to the Sky Bet Championship now appears a foregone conclusion for Chris Wilder’s side after Oliver Arblaster’s unwanted intervention from Mikkel Damsgaard’s cross (63) – the sixth own goal Sheffield United have conceded this season – put the hosts ahead.

The Bees, without a home win since January 20, were denied a second when Damsgaard volleyed Bryan Mbeumo’s free-kick beyond Ivo Grbic five minutes later only for VAR to rule that Oli McBurnie had been fouled by Nathan Collins.

Frank Onyeka ran onto Kevin Schade’s delightful flick to seal the victory in stoppage time (90+3) which means Sheffield United are now 10 points adrift of safety, while Brentford move seven points clear of the relegation zone.

Frank Onyeka added a late second for Brentford
Onyeka added a late second for Brentford

Player ratings

Brentford: Flekken (6), Roerslev (6), Collins (6), Zanka (6), Reguilon (7), Janelt (6), Jensen (7), Damsgaard (8), Wissa (6), Maupay (6), Mbeumo (7).

Subs: Pinnock (n/a), Schade (n/a), Onyeka (n/a), Lewis-Potter (6), Yarmoliuk (6).

Sheff Utd: Grbic (7), Ahmedhodzic (6), Trusty (6), Holgate (6), Larouci (7), Arblaster (8), Osborn (6), Bogle (6), Hamer (6), McBurnie (6), Brereton Diaz (7).

Subs: Archer (6), Slimane (n/a), McAtee (5).

Player of the Match: Mikkel Damsgaard.

How Brentford laboured to victory

Brentford and Sheffield United both toiled on Saturday
Brentford and Sheffield United both toiled on Saturday

Brentford have kept back-to-back clean sheets at the Gtech Community Stadium in the Premier League for the first time this season and for the first time May 2023. Prior to this run, the Bees had conceded 22 goals across 10 home matches – an average of 2.2 goals conceded per game.

This routine home win, long overdue for Thomas Frank’s side, mitigates the risk of being drawn into an unwanted relegation battle.

The writing is now on the wall for Sheffield United, who have just one victory in their last 16 Premier League games, losing 10 of them. Their only win since early December was a 3-1 victory at Luton on February 10.

Thomas Frank greets Chris Wilder on Saturday
Despite going in at half-time level for the 16th time in the Premier League this season, this victory was only Brentford’s fourth after being level at the break; the Bees were winless in their five previous such matches (D2 L3)

Team news

  • Brentford named Ivan Toney on the bench for the second successive game as Neal Maupay replaced Kristoffer Ajer in one change from the Aston Villa draw.
  • Sheffield United made one alteration to the side that drew 2-2 with Chelsea as Yasser Larouci replaced the injured Jack Robinson.

Wilder’s side arrived in west London, however, on the back of drawing three of their previous four matches, while their only Premier League clean sheet this season had come in the 1-0 win over Brentford at Bramall Lane back in early December.

Jayden Bogle challenges Maupay in the opening half
Jayden Bogle challenges Neal Maupay in the opening half

They boasted the best chance of the opening exchanges as Ben Brereton Diaz escaped Zanka only to lack conviction at the crucial moment with his finish was easily kept out by Mark Flekken.

Brentford were labouring without Ivan Toney, again deemed only fit enough for the substitutes’ bench, but they were gifted a glorious chance when a mistake by Anel Ahmedhodzic allowed Mbeumo to release Neal Maupay.

Grbic raced from his line at the Frenchman’s feet and did enough to force his shot wide of the post. Frank resisted the temptation to summon Toney despite little signs of improvement after the restart.

But in keeping with Sheffield United’s season, they were the author of their own downfall as moments after McBurnie wasted the opportunity to find Jayden Bogle unmarked inside the box, Brentford were celebrating the opener.

Bryan Mbeumo in action against Yasser Larouci
Bryan Mbeumo in action against Yasser Larouci

Damsgaard collected Mbeumo’s lay-off before his penetrative cross cannoned off the shins of Arblaster and into the net past the hapless Grbic. The Dane thought he had claimed a fine goal of his own when he drilled in Mbeumo’s free-kick moments later.

Referee Sam Barrott and VAR David Coote had other ideas, however, deeming there to have been a tug on the shirt by Collins on McBurnie. The contact was minimal but the Blades made little of their reprieve.

Instead, Brentford had to wait until stoppage time to put the contest to bed. Sergio Reguilon’s throw-in was devilishly flicked on by substitute Schade into the path of Onyeka, who finished confidently.

Chris Wilder issues instructions from the touchline
Chris Wilder issues instructions from the touchline

Frank ‘convinced’ Toney will be ready for Luton

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Thomas Frank says his side benefitted from a bit of luck during their 2-0 win over Sheffield United, but maintains they deserved to win the game.

Brentford boss Thomas Frank: “I’m happy and relieved. I just said to the players, don’t do that to me again [no win in nine]. The spell is a reminder that this league is brutal, relentless and the toughest in the world. It’s taught me not to expect anything.

“This was a good win and a good performance – not through the roof. I thought it was a well-deserved win. We got some luck today with the first goal, which helps.

“I feel for him [Damsgaard] as he deserved that goal. He had a good game against Villa and again today. I thought it should have stood as it wasn’t a clear and obvious error. It was a soft one given. There’s been a few similar ones this season that haven’t gone our way. It’s not an easy job for them.

“Ivan Toney was ill during the week, and his hip injury is still not perfect. Now we have time to get him ready for Luton and I’m convinced he will be ready for Luton. Ajer is touch and go for that game.”

Wilder: Achievement getting to 0-0 at half-time

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Chris Wilder thought Brentford would be a good opportunity to take some points with their opponents facing pressure at home, but unfortunately came away with nothing after losing 2-0.

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder: “I don’t think there was a lot in the game. Thomas [Frank] will complain about the block for a second goal which could have come earlier. We had the blow of losing our skipper [Jack Robinson] and for clubs in our position, to get to 0-0 at half time is an achievement. It wasn’t a case of backs against the wall.

“We turned the ball over cheaply [for their first goal]. Had we got the first goal, it would’ve made for an interesting afternoon. We felt we could make it nervous for them and the reaction from Thomas and their players at the end was one of relief.

“Counter-attacks are part of the game and it was a wicked deflection that went flying in [for Arblaster’s own goal]. We could have done better with our recovery runs but it’s something that’s again gone against us.”

On Jayden Bogle going off injured: “It’ll be a blow if we lose Jayden. It’s a soft tissue injury and so it doesn’t look good.”

No Toney, no problem for Brentford?

Ivan Toney was an unused substitute against Sheff Utd
Ivan Toney was an unused substitute against Sheff Utd

Sky Sports’ Ben Grounds at the Gtech Community Stadium:

I Am Maximus romped to victory in the Grand National, and while Brentford would eventually win here at a canter, they did so without their own gladiator. Ivan Toney remained in the stable, an unused substitute.

Having only been called upon against Aston Villa last weekend after Ollie Watkins’ late equaliser, you begin to wonder just how much more will we see of Toney in a red and white shirt.

Neal Maupay missed the best chance of the first half
Neal Maupay missed the best chance of the first half

Injured or not, Thomas Frank knows he has to start preparing his players for life without their talisman. Frank’s attack was still not quite at full throttle, but here they still carried more than enough potency to extend Sheffield United’s abysmal away record.

The Blades, still without a clean sheet on the road, were unable to capitalise on Toney’s absence.

The striker is on his lengthiest Premier League goal drought, having amassed 21 shots and 36 touches in the opposition box during seven consecutive starts prior to his omission at Villa Park.

No Toney, no problem for Brentford? Not quite, but if he is to be sold as expected this summer, the return of Schade to fitness alongside Mbeumo means it would be smart management to use him sparingly in the remaining games – regardless of his fitness.

Maupay was the only change to the Brentford side
Maupay was the only change to the Brentford side

FPL stats: Brentford 2-0 Sheffield United

Goals Onyeka
Own goals Arblaster
Assists Damsgaard, Schade
Bonus points Reguilon (3pts), Zanka (2pts), Flekken (1pt)

Opta facts – Blades on course for unwanted record

Yasser Larouci clears the ball under pressure from Bryan Mbeumo
Yasser Larouci clears the ball under pressure from Bryan Mbeumo

  • Brentford’s opener this afternoon was the sixth own-goal Sheffield United have conceded in the Premier League this season, the most any of team in the division, with Oliver Arblaster the fifth different Blades player to score an own goal this term for the club after Anis Ben Slimane, Wes Foderingham, Jack Robinson and Jayden Bogle.
  • Sheffield United have conceded 84 goals in the Premier League this season, the most any team has conceded in the competition after 32 games played and the most of any top-flight team at this stage of a season since Ipswich Town in 1963-64 (85).
  • Sheffield United have now failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last 17 away Premier League matches, only once going on a longer run without an away clean sheet in the competition – a run of 22 between June 2020 and May 2021.

What’s next?

Brentford head to Luton on Saturday April 20 for their next Premier League fixture. Kick-off 3pm.

Sheffield United host relegation rivals Burnley at Bramall Lane on the same day. Kick-off 3pm.

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