Advantage Arsenal in Champions League race as Tottenham face fight Brentford display suggests they’re not up for

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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

It is advantage Arsenal in a top four fight Tottenham hardly look up for.

Mikel Arteta will have watched on with glee as Antonio Conte’s side were out-fought and out-thought by a Brentford team with little to play for.

Were it for a more clinical touch in the final third, Thomas Frank’s side would have been out of sight against a sorry Spurs, who showed no response to their drab display against Brighton last week.

Spurs left with a point that it was hard to argue they deserved and with the knowledge they had handed Arsenal the initiative.

Conte knows this top four race will go to the wire but as if to hammer that home, Arsenal ramped up the pressure early on Saturday afternoon with their victory over Manchester United meaning they moved into pole position.

Tottenham now had to respond and would have been encouraged when they arrived to find that Brentford were without key duo Kristoffer Ajer and Christian Norgaard - that was about as good as it got from a Spurs perspective.

The Bees may have been depleted, with defender Ethan Pinnock also unavailable, but their trademark energy runs through this squad and gave Spurs a rough start in west London.

Just minutes after the whistle the visitors were already scrambling to send Bryan Mbuemo’s shot behind for a corner after Brentford had won the ball high before Rodrigo Bentancur took an Ivan Toney volley square in the chest to prevent Hugo Lloris being called into action.

Frank’s side - who have beaten Chelsea and West Ham in recent weeks - were not letting Spurs settle and again came close to taking the lead when Toney headed Christian Eriksen’s corner onto the bar.

Spurs could not get a hold of the Bees striker at set pieces as - with an identical routine to their first corner - Eriksen floated another ball to Toney at the far post, with Bentancur deflecting his effort behind.

Just as they had been against Brighton, Tottenham were slow and stodgy in possession. Brentford are exceptionally well drilled but Spurs were not offering enough to test that organisation.

Despite time and again struggling to break through the Bees, not one of the visiting players stood up and tried to take matters into their own hands and find a way through.

Spurs stuck with timid, slow and sideways possession through a turgid first 45 minutes.

Conte did not make any changes at the break but sent his players out early though there was little sign of a half-time rollicking as Brentford picked up where they left off.

Lloris had to charge out of his area to clatter and stop Toney in his tracks before Mbuemo sent an effort high over the crossbar.

The sloppy start to the second half finally sparked some life into Spurs, though the sole product was a trio of blocked shots from Harry Kane, Kulusevski and Bentancur.

Kane was more often than not being reduced to defensive duties as Eriksen rained corner after corner down on his former teammates.

Brentford were still struggling to make good on their dominance, but the chances kept coming. Lloris was forced into a finger-tip save to turn Eriksen’s low effort behind for a corner.

Spurs fans had been relishing seeing The Dane back in the Premier League but were soon sick of the sight of him as the 30-year-old continued to cause problems, drawing another low stop from Lloris moments after Kane had cleared Pontus Jansson’s header off the line.

Conte’s response was to send Davinson Sanchez on for Ryan Sessegnon and while Spurs managed a spell of pressure, all they could muster was a limp effort from Heung-min Son which floated into the hands of David Raya.

Brentford should have won it late as Toney was free to meet another Eriksen set piece, steering his header onto the far post before Mbuemo fired the follow-up into the side netting.

The only consolation for Frank’s side was that this Tottenham team never looked like making them pay for missed chances.

Areta’s afternoon would only have been made sweeter as he sat back and watched, safe in the knowledge that his side are now two points clear and could be in an even stronger position when the two sides meet on May 12.

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