Brentford and Crystal Palace draw blanks after Christian Eriksen’s moving moment

Brentford 0-0 Crystal Palace: A game in need of Eriksen’s talents failed to take off

Tony Evans
At Brentford Community Stadium
Saturday 12 February 2022 17:39
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<p>Christian Eriksen salutes the Brentford crowd</p>

Christian Eriksen salutes the Brentford crowd

Christian Eriksen was introduced to the crowd before the 0-0 draw between Brentford and Crystal Palace and how this tepid contest could have done with the Dane’s guile. Thomas Frank’s team will be happy enough with the point – their first in six Premier League matches. Patrick Vieira will be less pleased. His men had enough possession to have won easily but they lacked a cutting edge.

The threat of relegation remains for both sides, rumbling like a storm in the distance. It is still remote, especially for Palace, but drab performances like this are a warning sign for both managers. There was a stark lack of class on display.

The teams sparred during the opening exchanges with neither side able to control the game or create scoring opportunities. Palace were neater on the ball but Brentford were more direct. Rico Henry had the first real chance when he appeared unnoticed on the edge of the box and fired in a goalbound shot. Joachim Andersen scurried across and deflected the ball for a corner.

Brentford got forward quicker. Sergio Canos slipped in a ball from midfield that caught the defence square and Bryan Mbeumo was on to it in a flash. Vicente Guaita was alert, though, and blocked the effort.

Palace’s best opportunity of the opening period came just after the half hour. Brentford were sloppy in midfield and gave the ball away to Odsonne Edouard. The Frenchman set off towards goal, waiting until he had drawn the defenders towards him and then rolled a pass in the direction of Jordan Ayew. The winger had plenty of the goal to shoot at but his body was falling away from the ball and he sliced his shot horribly wide.

Vieira’s team were patient – perhaps too much so. When they ran at Brentford’s back four they had some success. Wilfried Zaha advanced down the left flank into the box in a flurry of stepovers and fired straight at David Raya. There was space behind Henry on the right but Ayew failed to exploit it.

Brentford looked much likelier to score before the break. Mbeumo got behind the defence and provided a tempting cross. Canos, diving, got a head to it under pressure but put the ball over the bar from close range.

There were long spells in the second half when Palace knocked it around like a team with a three-goal lead. They were much more comfortable in possession but rarely raised the threat levels. Conor Gallagher could not get into the match. The 4-3-3 system deployed by Vieria never looked like unlocking the Brentford defence.

Still, the pressure built on the home side. They could not get the ball out of their half but Palace’s siege had no sting. There was no one to hold play up when Brentford cleared in Ivan Toney’s absence through injury.

Josh Dasilva’s entry into the game for Vitaly Janelt immediately perked up the home team. The 23-year-old drove to the byline and crossed into the six-yard box but there were too many defenders in the vicinity. Still, it was a rare excursion forward for Frank’s side in the second half. As the closing stages approached an element of urgency crept into Brentford’s game. Pontus Jansson climbed above a pair of teammates from a corner but Guaita was equal to the challenge of the Swede’s header.

Palace spent the final minutes probing around the area to little effect. Zaha went down in the box and claimed a penalty but it was wishful thinking. The referee was having none of it.

This was not a defensive masterclass. It was two teams drifting, without the gumption to create proper chances. They need to be sharper or that rumble in the distance that is the relegation fight will get louder in the weeks to come.

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