Will Onyeka embody Brentford’s ‘fire in our eyes’ approach against Liverpool?
Every home game for Brentford this season is momentous, but Saturday has added significance with Liverpool set to visit Brentford Community Stadium.
This is only the Bees’ third home encounter in the Premier League and, after facing Arsenal in their opener, face another traditional English side this weekend. Granted, the understaffed Gunners were there for the August meeting, but Jurgen Klopp’s Reds pose an obviously different test.
Fans were expected to be boisterous in the 2-0 success and an atmosphere of rehearsal is expected on Saturday when they face the six-fold European champions for the first time since 1947.
Thomas Frank wants his team to feed off his energy and has said that every Bee will give their all on the pitch.
“[The fans] need to perform in an incredible way and surpass performance against Arsenal, ”said the Brentford boss in his pre-match press conference. “Against Arsenal, they came from a different world and if they do that then, we promise, we will give everything on the grass.
“The pressure is off. We have a balanced, confident but humble team. We will enter the game with fire in our eyes and a smile on our face to attack and probably also defend a lot, “he added.” We are looking forward to the challenge.
Frank gave a big clue to his possible roster for the game, revealing that 10 of the starters in the impressive 2-0 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers will retain their places in the squad.
“I have to find the last one,” he admitted.
Having had to make appearances off the bench in the last two Premier League games, Frank Onyeka will welcome a recall for another meeting with the Reds. The former Midtjylland midfielder faced Klopp’s men in the Champions League last season, scoring one out of six points available in both encounters.
Despite being the underdog on Saturday, the Nigerian will nonetheless strive to be lucky for the third time.
Onyeka’s place in the squad was taken by Shandon Baptiste, who missed Tuesday against Oldham Athletic by suspension. The Grenada international has not particularly pulled trees during these outings after returning from West Africa after contracting a coronavirus and the summer arrival should be positive as to his chances of reclaiming his place. Saturday.
Marcus Forss clearly stole the show with his four goals in their midweek EFL Cup loss to Oldham, but Onyeka was one of Brentford’s best players in the 7-0 victory.
The Nigerian won 10 of his 13 total matches, more than any player on the pitch for both teams, which included 100% success in his aerial matches. Add his three interceptions, three tackles and two completed dribbles (a game high) and we understand just how dominant the 23-year-old was in the rout.
Admittedly, the quality of the opponent – Oldham occupies the bottom of Ligue 2 – implies that little should be read in Tuesday’s performance, but a player who currently ranks fourth in middle tackles and interceptions may be favored against the Reds.
Perhaps an even more notable facet of his game in the way he helps the team’s pressing could give him the green light on Saturday. While Baptiste is currently leading the push for 90, just above second-placed Onyeka, the Nigerian overtakes Grenada for a success rate of 38.2-34.1%.
Brentford’s summer signing was touted as a squeezing machine before he arrived and no doubt featured elements from that side of him at the start of the season.
Interestingly, his urge to engage and win a lot of duels matches the other team starters in midfield. Vitaly Janelt and Christian Norgaard won 5.0 and 4.2, respectively, with Onyeka’s average of 4.3.
Baptiste, in three appearances so far, is averaging 1.7 duels won, a significantly lower average than Janelt, Norgaard and the Nigerian, and could well make his way against Liverpool.
The Reds have tasted defeat only once in 27 Premier League meetings with promoted sides, with their only flaw coming against Fulham in a depressing streak of home defeats last season. The mood in Merseyside is different these days, but Brentford will appreciate the opportunity to claim another scalp in his debut season.
Frank has promised his troops will give their all against Klopp’s side, and Onyeka will want to play his part as the Bees look to poke another league giant in front of their full-throated supporters.