Brentford and Tottenham will be the two teams that unveil the second half of the Premier League season. They will be the early kick off on Boxing Day, one of the most celebrated days of the English football calendar. Both teams are in the top half of the table, which suggests this could be a good game to watch for the neutral. Brentford have had some good showings at home against top six teams. They will be relishing the chance to put a dent in Spurs’ top four challenge.
There are a lot of unknowns about Brentford heading into 2023. Inevitably, there will be interest in Thomas Frank, as he continues to overachieve with the squad he has. More worryingly, they may have to compete without their talisman Ivan Toney for long periods of the year. The striker has been charged with multiple gambling offences and historically, this has resulted in a lengthy ban. They are six points clear of the bottom three and just three from a top six place. This season could still go either way for the Bees.
Tottenham muddled their way through to the World Cup stoppage. They weren’t playing fluently and they dropped a lot of needless points. As a coach that demands high standards, it will have disappointed Antonio Conte to see his team perform in that way. They need to show a much higher standard if they are to remain in the top four of the Premier League. Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea are all chasing them down. It would be a surprise if all of those teams don’t improve in 2023. Spurs will also need to raise their performance level.
Brentford failed to keep a clean sheet in their last four matches before the World Cup.
With 31 goals scored, Tottenham have the third best attack in the Premier League so far this season.
Although the striker may not play a lot over the coming months, he remains eligible to play on Boxing Day and he will be the player that Tottenham fear. Before the break, he scored a brace against Manchester City, showing his ability to influence matches against the very best teams. A move away to one of the top six was possible prior to the news about his gambling offences surfaced. Brentford will be hoping that the FA are lenient and don’t ban him for too long, as he is undoubtedly their talisman. With 10 goals this season, Toney is the third top scorer in the Premier League, trailing only Erling Haaland and Harry Kane. That is a huge achievement for a striker playing for a mid table club. He is just two goals off his tally from last season. It remains to be seen whether he beats it, but he is on course too as long as he plays a few more matches. Tottenham’s defence isn’t as reliable as Conte would like. Toney will cause them problems on Boxing Day.
Tottenham may have some attacking issues to deal with initially. Richarlison will be injured for the next few weeks, while Son Heung-min and Harry Kane may be eased back into club action following the World Cup. One attacker that will be relishing the return of club football is Dejan Kulusevski. Sweden didn’t qualify for the World Cup, so he will be fully rested and he has emerged as the main creative force for Spurs since joining the club. He provides a good balance to the attack. Brentford’s defence has conceded 25 times this season. Only five clubs have conceded more. There is an opportunity for the former Juventus man to have a big influence this weekend. The 22-year-old has one goal and five assists this season. If he can stay fit, he will expect to significantly increase these numbers over the rest of the season.
There are a few injury doubts for Brentford heading back into Premier League action. Aaron Hickey, Pontus Jansson, Kristoffer Ajer, Shandon Baptiste and Thomas Strakosha have all had injury problems. They are doubts for the match against Tottenham.
Richarlison won’t be available to feature for Tottenham until January. Rodrigo Bentancur won’t be fit, due to a groin issue. It is hoped that he will be back for New Year’s Day. Oliver Skipp and Djed Spence are both doubts. Cristian Romero and Hugo Lloris’ involvement is unknown following their participation in the World Cup final.
This is a tricky test for Tottenham, especially as they could be missing key players. Brentford often raise their game against the top six and they are capable of winning these matches, especially at home. The Toney gambling story may give the home side an advantage, as he will be desperate to score and get some positive headlines. A score draw wouldn’t be a huge surprise.
Brentford 1-1 Tottenham