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Report: Brentford and Palace equally-matched in stalemate clash

Brentford
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Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace made it four away games unbeaten with a cagey draw against Brentford on Saturday afternoon, as the two teams cancelled one another out in a tense, relatively quiet stalemate on the Thames.

Summary

  • Patrick Vieira makes two changes to the starting XI which drew with Norwich, naming Jordan Ayew and Odsonne Edouard in the team
  • Palace look brightest to start, but Brentford enjoy a spell on top as Rico Henry fires a shot wide
  • Vicente Guaita blocks a low Bryan Mbeumo shot and Jordan Ayew strikes wide in a largely uneventful half
  • Half-time: Brentford 0-0 Crystal Palace
  • The second-half begins in the same fashion the first did, with Palace on top but struggling to break-through
  • James McArthur comes on for his first competitive minutes since November 2021
  • McArthur forces David Raya into a relatively confident diving save
  • Joachim Andersen tries his luck with a rasping late effort, but Raya matches it
  • Full-time: Brentford 0-0 Crystal Palace

This was a game that offered two teams hungry for a win the chance to push up the table towards the top-half. It's significance perhaps affected its quality, with each team enduring nervous spells.

The opening exchanges felt indicative of how the afternoon would unfold, with Crystal Palace enjoying marginally more possession and looking more deliberate in their attacks. On the other hand Brentford, playing a dense 3-5-2, proved tough to break-down, and gave their guests trouble almost solely through counter-attacks.

Bryan Mbeumo, returning to the starting XI, provided their most promising attacking outlet, carrying the ball over the halfway line with intent only to be stopped – repeatedly, and perhaps unexpectedly – by Wilfried Zaha.

The game’s composition changed after 15 minutes, however, as Brentford enjoyed a dominant spell and forced Palace to adopt the Bees' earlier counter-attacking style.

This period appeared most impactful when Rico Henry fizzed a shot against the advertising board via Joachim Andersen’s out-stretched leg and, later, when supporters awaited a VAR review on a Marc Guéhi handball, which was discarded due to a push from Christian Nørgaard.

This pause and another later while Tyrick Mitchell shook off a knock were all Palace needed to regain their earlier authority. As before, that didn’t mean creating chance after chance – or even a clear chance in isolation – but rather the control to dictate the game, and to probe forward and unsettle their hosts.

Thomas Frank’s men continued to enjoy the higher-quality opportunities, however. They kept Vicente Guaita on his toes when Mbeumo tried to prod underneath him before Yoane Wissa span the ball high as Joel Ward hounded him in the box.

Then, 30 minutes in, Palace forged their first notable effort when Odsonne Edouard fed Jordan Ayew to the right of the box. The Ghanaian drove forward in space, moved centrally and unleashed a shot which sailed wide of the upright.

Enduring their first real threat sparked a reaction from Brentford, whose pacey frontline created further trouble that forced a now-trademark block from Mitchell in the box. The young left-back ensured he was on-hand to steer away a squared Mbeumo ball which, but for the No.3, would have found its target close to goal.

The sun – which had glinted off nearby skyrises and cast pipe-like shadows across the pitch – dipped behind the South Stand for the first time as the game cooled after 40 minutes.

Mbeumo – Brentford’s sharpest threat - crafted one final chance when he whipped towards Sergi Canós, but the Spaniard headed high, and bar a late spell of home possession the game tumbled to half-time without further action.

Anyone who’s followed Palace this season has become accustomed to seeing a resurgent second-half performance, but in this cagey, crucial meeting, even Patrick Vieira’s half-time words couldn’t orchestrate a renewed élan for the afternoon.

So the manager took to roaring his instructions from the touchline, marshalling his players with perhaps a touch of frustration. They were, after all, again the dominant side, but as yet the less featured in any highlights reel.

In this half Palace’s attack instead built incrementally, starting with Ayew's surges along the right, building with Edouard and Conor Gallagher applying pressure through the middle and eventually ending with treatment for Will Hughes, who was substituted off after 65 minutes.

This pause, which saw James McArthur take to the pitch for the first time since November, initially halted Palace’s momentum, but the south Londoners steadily built it back.

McArthur almost made an infrequent goalscoring impact when he curled a shot low to David Raya’s left, but the ‘keeper held his 20-yard effort on the dive.

Brentford’s attacking frequency hadn’t changed since the first-half, with the west Londoners creating few chances as their guests enjoyed possession. But Guaita was still kept alert when he thwacked a testing ball to safety as Pontus Jansson headed down from a corner.

As time ticked away the game found a more level rhythm, which may well have changed had Canós collected a second yellow card for a foul on Zaha, but in this tense affair the referee allowed Brentford’s No.7 to walk a thin line. He was swiftly substituted.

With seconds left on the clock Andersen sought to grab a last-gasp win for Palace by launching at goal, but Raya was equal to the effort, and swiftly collected the loose ball to kill the game's final chance.

So full-time came to confirm what seemed like a forgone conclusion far earlier in the day: this tense, cagey game would end goalless, and neither side would collect what could have been three crucial points.

Brentford: Raya, Pinnock, Jansson, Ajer, Henry, Jensen, Nørgaard, Wissa (Ghoddos 82), Janelt (Dasilva 61), Mbeumo, Canós (Baptiste 87).

Subs not used: Fernández, Lössl, Onyeka, Sørensen, Roerslev, Stevens.

Palace: Guaita, Ward, Guéhi, Andersen, Mitchell, Hughes (McArthur 66), Gallagher, Schlupp, Ayew (Olise 77), Zaha, Edouard (Mateta 72).

Subs not used: Butland, Clyne, Tomkins, Milivojevic, Eze, Benteke.