Central Discussion - Josh Dasilva, the heart of Brentford's promotion push
The heartbeat at the centre of the Bees side pushing for promotion, Josh Dasilva is one of the most promising players outside of the Premier League and could well be on the summer shopping list for numerous top-flight clubs.
"Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. We were fragile defensively and attacked with no intensity. We just collapsed and I have told the players that," said Luton’s manager Graeame Jones after his sides 7-0 defeat at promotion chasing Brentford.
A humbling result for any side often draws this rhetoric, but Brentford’s supreme display will likely be seen by other sides a few more times before the season is out and the man at the heart of this is not leading goal scorer Ollie Watkins but young English midfielder Josh Dasilva.
At just 21 years old, Dasilva’s star is starting to rise as Brentford make their case for promotion. Standing at 6ft 1in, it is hard to miss the bullish presence at the heart of the clubs midfield 3 but even more impressive is the performances the midfield man is producing.
Alongside his hat trick against Luton, Dasilva produced another classy performance Boxing Day against promotion rivals Swansea, breaking up play (7/7 on tackles), breaking forward (3/3 successful dribbles) and creating opportunities for his team mates (3 opportunities created).
Position and style of play
A typical number 8, Dasilva has the traits of a box-to-box central midfielder, performing numerous functions for his side from starting attacks from the base of the midfield, to breaking the lines if a pass is not available to him and now starting to contribute with regular goals.
Blessed with a wonderful physique (standing at a very muscular 6ft), Dasilva is dominant once he has the ball at his feet, rarely losing possession and using the ball with aplomb using his acutely fine sense of vision. Not locked down though at Brentford, Dasilva is allowed to roam freely from the centre of midfield to out wide, cutting into shoot or create.
Going forward is where the young man has offered the most to his side. Brentford are one of the highest scoring sides in the championship scoring 56, with their front three BMW (Benrahma, Watkins and Mbuemo) providing the vast majority of the goals but Dasilva’s contribution should not be overlooked chipping in with an equally important six goals and showcasing the room to add more.
From his role in central midfield he carries the team forward breaking initial presses or deep set blocks using excellent technique and a smooth change of pace carrying him away from his marker and into space.
He doesn’t waste these opportunities and ensures that he is looking to make a key pass to create an opportunity or to get a shot away (1.2 shots per game and 1.5 key passes). His schooling at Arsenal set the template for the attacking prowess Griffin Park sees regularly, with the type of passes the midfielder looks for. Playing short controlled and quick passes Dasilva can control the tempo and has shown the responsibility to demand the ball when his side need cajoling when they struggle. Working with Christian Norgaard the deep lying defensive midfielder, he keeps really intelligent distances whether attack or defence ensuring an available pass is on or offering protection should Norgaard be bypassed.
Areas to improve
Should the midfielder make the step up to the Premier League his weaknesses will come under more scrutiny so there is plenty of room for improvement.
Though he has acute sense of intercepting wayward passes his tackling and aerial duels could do with more refinement. Although he has excellent height and physique, he has struggled under the high ball winning only 0.1 percent of his aerial clashes so far this season. He is likely to face more tussles like this in the championship where the highball and crossing are a more prevalent part of team’s tactics but it is still an area that can be ruthlessly exploited in the premiership especially from set pieces.
He is very strong on his left hand side, featuring heavily to the right of Brentford’s midfield 3 allowing him to keep the ball on his left foot. In these moments you notice Dasilva’s habit of shying away from using his right forcing him to manipulate the ball when on this side to his left foot in order to get a pass or shot away that invites pressure from his opponents either leading to loss of possession or hampering a potential attack.
With the run in for the Premiership heating it it would appear it would appear that the Englishman is at the best club for his development. They know his strengths and weaknesses and the club has an excellent track record of developing its players headed up by director Rasmussen Ankersen.
The sky is the limit for this young man, and Premier League scouts who are regular visitors down at Griffin Park are casting admiring glances in his direction. Should the West London club fail in its quest for a place at the top table of English football they might find it hard to retain the services of the Londoner. Whoever it is with Dasilva has the mindset and raw talent to be a real success “It’s not easy, but I’ve got to work my b******s off in every session, every match, to improve and be the best I can be.”