Football News

Brentford 2-2 Tottenham: Five things learned as Bissouma, Maddison and Mbeumo take centre stage

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 16:00, 13 August 2023 | Updated: 11:09, 15 August 2023

Tottenham Hotspur began life without Harry Kane when they visited Brentford in the Premier League this afternoon.

The club’s all-time leading scorer completed his Bayern Munich switch less than 48 hours ago but on today’s showing this new-look Spurs team will see no shortage of goals (both for and against).

In a game that ebbed and flowed the Bees and Spurs played out an entertaining 2-2 draw. Thomas Frank handed out two debuts while his opposite number fielded no fewer than four new faces.

James Maddison was among those debutants in a Spurs jersey and to say he made an immediate impact would be an understatement. Here are five things we learned from this opening weekend game.

1. Tottenham have an elite creator

James Maddison lived up to his words on his Tottenham Hotspur debut this afternoon.

The 26-year-old midfielder was Spurs’ most high-profile summer acquisition when he left relegated Leicester City for a reported £40m. Having long been linked with his new club the England international proved to be among the league’s best creators last term.

Maddison created no fewer than 69 chances last season, eight more than Son Heung-Min, with 25 of those coming from set plays. It’s this ingenuity Maddison believes was missing before he joined.

“There’s a little window for me at Tottenham, a creative player that they’ve always had, maybe not had in recent years,” Maddison told inews.

“I could definitely see myself, when making the decision, playing for Tottenham in that kit in that stadium and being the creative player I know I can be.”

It only took 11 minutes in Spurs’ visit to Brentford for Maddison to put those words into practice. Winning a free-kick, wide left of the penalty area, Maddison whipped in a beautiful cross which Cristian Romero met with a bullet header.

This moment also reaffirmed his status as a reliable double threat. Since the 2022/23 season began only Maddison (10 goals and 10 assists), Mohamed Salah (19 goals and 12 assists) and Bukayo Saka (15 goals and 11 assists) have reached double figures in terms of goals and assists.

Tottenham’s bright start under Ange Postecoglou was cut short as the Bees struck twice in 10 minutes to go ahead. Emerson Royal, though, equalised in first-half stoppage time. Maddison creating another goal. Only the aforementioned Salah (25), Kevin De Bruyne (24) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (21) have registered more Premier League assists than Maddison (19) since the 2021/22 season.

2. Ange Postecoglou era will be entertaining

“Ange brings a positive mentality and a fast, attacking style of play,” were Spurs chairman Daniel Levy’s words following the appointment of Ange Postecoglou from Celtic as their new head coach. Under his leadership, the Scottish champions averaged the most goals per game (3) and had the highest average possession (73%) of any team across Europe’s top 10 leagues in 2022/23.

Celtic matches involved nearly four goals overall, as they conceded an average of 0.89 goals per game. On matchday one, Spurs scored twice, and conceded two, bringing a total of four goals scored while posting nearly 70% possession. It’s just one game but you get the feeling Tottenham supporters are in for a wild ride.

3. Spurs’ discipline needs work

Being gung-ho naturally brings risk as you don’t want to leave yourself open. Furthermore, playing frantically can lead to lapses in concentration and giving away unnecessary fouls, discipline is of the utmost importance. Spurs were anything but as four players — Guglielmo Vicario, Oliver Skipp, James Maddison and Davinson Sánchez — entered the referee’s book. Even more disappointing was Heung-min Son in his first game as Tottenham captain conceded his first Premier League penalty. Postecoglou will see this as a learning experience and something that can be ironed out as the season progresses.

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4. Mbeumo the main man

Often in the shadows of Ivan Toney last term, Bryan Mbeumo knew heading into this season that he will have to step up as Brentford’s main attacking threat. Mbeumo mustered nine goals and eight assists in 38 appearances last season. Mbeumo’s equaliser from the spot meant he’s scored or assisted in each of his last six Premier League outings without Toney, registering six goals while providing two assists.

5. Bissouma’s redemption

A new manager inadvertently means everyone gets a fresh start more so for those on the fringes. It’s fair to say Yves Bissouma, who arrived to some fanfare last summer, didn’t enjoy the finest of debut seasons in a Spurs jersey. The 26-year-old Malian seldom featured and when he did his performances in midfield were inconsistent. Today the Bissouma that first attracted Spurs, who staved off stiff competition for his signature, truly reemerged. No one on the field touched the ball on more occasions than Bissouma (136), who also completed seven take-ons against Brentford. This is the most by a Spurs player since Son (8) against Man Utd in 2019.