Can Brentford repeat last season’s double six over Fulham?

12 Dec

Today’s the day. Brentford visit Fulham with Bees fans hoping for a performance and result even half as good as last season’s 4-1 thumping of our neighbours at The Cottage. Coming off the back of Jota’s late, late winner at Griffin Park (in the last minute, wasn’t it…?) six points and six goals against our nearest and dearest was more than anybody had a right to hope for. But that was then and this is now. So what about today?

I’ve had some ‘interesting’ observations (that’s the polite word) over the last two columns in regards to my own build up and lack of “A proper assessment of THIS game”. Whilst the regular reader will know we concentrate as much on the ‘other stuff’ that goes with Brentford as we do on previews/reports, if it stops Mr X from crying then here it is:

We’ll beat Fulham.

To enlarge upon that, I think that even the most optimistic amongst us would be pushing it to expect the same as last time out. Then again, looking at the facts, why not? Our own last performance, against MK Dons, was one that saw a 2-0 win, the woodwork thumped three times, decent penalty shouts denied, goal line clearances, an offside effort ruled out and the excellent Alan Judge presented with a Claytonesque moment when clean through in the first half. Frankly, it could have been brackets.

Vibe 2-0 no

Lasse Vibe had a goal denied by the flag against MK

Fulham, meanwhile, suffered a 3-0 hammering at the hands of Nottingham Forest and are still looking to replace manager Kit Symons. It’s now over a month since he was sacked although Stuart Gray has been named as an interim ‘Senior Coach’ , whilst the search for a permanent ‘head’ continues.

It’s no secret that Fulham have the second worst goals conceded record in the League”. Those aren’t my words but those of the Cottagers own in-house YouTube channel for an interview with Gray.

It’s an interesting piece (to be found at the end of this column) and certainly one any Brentford fan looking to get the opposition perspective would do well to watch. If only for some quite blunt questions and some honest answers.

We do defend with eleven; we do attack with eleven. What we haven’t done, we haven’t defended set plays very well so this week we’ve concentrated on showing the players where we’re going wrong,” said Gray when pushed on the defensive set up of the team.

Likewise, when the club acknowledge that, “Last season’s result smarts with a lot of Fulham fans,” he is savvy enough to admit that “bragging rights are up for grabs and that’s the most important thing.

I take all of this to mean we can expect a very turgid line up and formation from the home side. Priority one will be to avoid defeat and putting eleven men behind the ball will be the way to achieve this. So what about the Bees?

Well, as anybody who bore witness to the MK Dons game will know, when the midfield turns it on we are a force to be reckoned with. Moreso, given the attaking options on the bench presented by the likes of Jota, Andy Gogia and Sam Saunders (did somebody mention defensive frailties from set plays?).

Gray can park the bus all he wants but when the likes of a Jota, Judge, Saunders or Canos are running at you full tilt then not even Chelsea could stop them. Mind you, on current form Chelsea would be doing well to stop a team of pensioners.

Fulham bus

Stuart Gray’s pre-match talk suggests this is what we can expect

Likewise, Josh McEachran and Max Colin are both fit once more. Subject to fitness, I expect Dean Smith to, at least, start with the same team as last weekend . However, the return of Max Colin is the most intriguing one in my eyes. His performance prior to injury marked him out as potential game changer yet, in his absence, Nico Yennaris has done nothing but shine.

It’s fair to say that, perhaps unfairly, Nico has had his critics but my hasn’t he proven them wrong? At the end of the day (Clive), you don’t come through the ranks at Arsenal without being ‘any good’. I’m sure he’ll be picked again today but the chance for more competition amongst the squad and cover in case of injury can only be a good thing.

Victory for Brentford today would take us to within three points of fifth place, as things currently stand, and nine clear of Fulham. That said, the table is still so tightly packed that, perhaps, Stuart Gray has it right. At least in part.

Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 06.11.34

The BBC table shows just what victory would do – for either team

Bragging rights are up for grab but victory is absolutely key. Personally, I’d take the win above all else. Even if it came by a solitary goal. This time. If we can do it in style, then all the better.

After Marinus departed, Lee Carsley did a fantastic job in getting us to this position. Being honest, a lot of Brentford fans were probably expecting us to be more at the trapdoor end of the table, such was the mood around the place until Lee ‘did his thing’.

Following the news that Lee has now moved on himself (as expected at some point) following early completion of the handover to Dean Smith, what better way than to sign off than with a win.

See you at the game .

Nick Bruzon

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