Brentford head coach Thomas Frank feels the way Newcastle’s push towards the top four has been built on a solid defence deserves just as much praise as their free-scoring attack.
The Magpies romped to a 5-1 win at West Ham on Wednesday night following up an impressive display when beating Manchester United 2-0 on Tyneside.
As well as boasting a formidable frontline lead by Sweden striker Alexander Isak, Eddie Howe’s side have the best defensive record in the Premier League conceding just 20 goals in 28 matches.
Frank knows Brentford will face a stern test to breakdown the visitors at the Gtech Community Stadium as his men look to respond following a 1-0 loss at Old Trafford in midweek.
“They (Newcastle) deserve huge praise for the way they defend. They are clear in what they want,” Frank said.
“They have a very well drilled and well picked back five, including (goalkeeper Nick) Pope.
“It looks like they have played together forever. They are always in the right positions and they are very good in the duels.
“We need to match their energy and intensity, win enough second-balls and the set-piece battle.
“Hopefully we will be good enough in spells on the ball to create enough opportunities.”
Frank has been impressed with the work former Bournemouth boss Howe has done at St James’ Park, which continues under the spotlight given Newcastle’s spending power.
“He did a top job at Bournemouth. They were an example to follow having got promoted and established themselves in the Premier League,” Frank told a press conference.
“He has got an opportunity at a club that wants to be in the top four and they are definitely doing everything that can to maybe even be there this season.
“They have done fantastic, the way (Howe and his coaching staff) came in last year and turned things around relatively quickly.
“Now how they have fine-tuned their style to be energetic, pressing, physical and dynamic is very impressive.”
After earlier going on a 12-match unbeaten league run to push up into the top half of the table, the Bees saw their winless run extend to three games with defeat to Erik ten Hag’s side on Wednesday night.
Frank feels what his side have achieved so far this season, pushing on up the league rather than battling to stay in it, shows just how far the club have come.
“It shouldn’t be possible, but on the other hand, it is possible because this is football and that is the beauty of it,” the Danish coach said.
“No matter how big of a difference there is in terms of the financial situation, there is always a chance when you go into a game.
“I think we have found a way to compete in the Premier League, but also a way to compete against the ‘top six’ where we tweak it slightly compared to some of the other games, maybe that is the key.
“I love my team. I think their application, determination and work rate is an example to follow for a lot of clubs.”