Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

The Brentford Line-Out

May 15, 2023 – Brentford are experts at set-pieces, but their long throw-ins are executed to perfection, and teams should copy this routine they used against West Ham yesterday.

The requirement is that you have a player like Mathias Jensen who can throw the ball long and accurately.

Figure 1.1 – Mathias Jensen throws the ball into the penalty area towards Kevin Schade.
Figure 1.2 – Ethan Pinnock sets a screen for Kevin Schade so Schade can head the ball on to the next man inside the box.
Figure 1.3 – The ball fumbles around and eventually pops out for a high-quality Brentford shot that gets blocked.

The way Ethan Pinnock blocks the West Ham defender to allow Kevin Schade to get an uncontested header on the ball reminds me of a Rugby line-out.

Figure 2.1 – Rugby line-out.

Ball is thrown in from the sidelines, one player jumps to knock it down, and the rest wait for the ball to fall.

You can see it clearer in this next example, which ended in a goal for Brentford.

Figure 3.1 – Mathias Jensen throws the ball into the area Ben Mee is going to arrive in.
Figure 4.1 – Illustration of what is happening in Figure 3.1.
  • Ethan Pinnock sets the screen, almost like a basketball player setting a screen, opening room for Ben Mee.
  • Ben Mee attacks the space in front of Ethan Pinnock.
  • Kevin Schade runs forward ahead of Ben Mee, in case Mathias Jensen throws the ball short by accident.
  • Yoane Wissa and Bryan Mbeumo wait for the knock-on from Ben Mee.
  • Two players sit back inside the penalty box, free, waiting for any spilled balls.
Figure 3.2 – Ben Mee heads the ball onto Yoane Wissa, and Wissa heads the ball into the top left-hand corner for the goal.

Routines such as this have always existed, but Brentford executes them flawlessly. And this only scratches the surface. They have a large playbook of choreographed routines for different scenarios, dependent on where the ball is on the field, and they choose them at random.

They are the most creative and dangerous team in the Premier League from set-pieces this season.

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