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Brentford v Arsenal. Post match debrief and player ratings

19 Sep

A 3-0 reverse for Brentford at the hands of Arsenal. Last season’s victory over the Gunners now nothing more than a wonderful memory. The Bees brought crashing down to earth with a bump on Sunday lunchtime.

It was a busy, busy afternoon for David.

Whilst the result may tell the story, did anybody come out of the game with any credit for Brentford? Who shone for The Bees against an Arsenal team who returned to the top of the Premier League table in some style. Have any of the bench players done sufficient to make the starting XI for our next game, Brighton at home? Who was our star player? Who else made the top five in the season long quest to find the top Bees’ performer? 

And as ever at this juncture, the answers can be found in the post match debrief and player ratings review. Here.

Nick Bruzon

Bees stung by table toppers on a low key afternoon.

19 Sep

One to file under ‘bad day at the office’. Brentford welcomed Arsenal to the GTech on Sunday lunchtime and left on the wrong end of a 3-0 reverse. The destruction of Leeds United last time out now nothing more than a happy memory rather than something that could have been used as a springboard to even bigger and better things. The 11th hour posptponment of our game at Southampton following the death of Queen Elizabeth II very much slamming the brakes on our momentum. In an understandably muted GTech yesterday, it was our visitors who were able to pick up where they’d left off before – the top of the Premier League table.

A solemn occasion

There are no regrets on this side. No anger. Arsenal outplayed and outclassed Brentford at every step of the way. Thomas Frank’s decision to opt for three centre backs one designed to try and contain our opponents. It had worked so well last season but this time around we seem to have settled (been pushed into) more of a more traditional back four. A set up that allowed us to attack en-masse with the two full backs still pushing up. Instead, The Bees began on the back foot and struggled to get beyond that. The visitors going for the jugular from the off and giving us little or no breathing space in a midfield that was still missing Christian Norgaard. With little news on his longer term recovery, one can’t imagine he will be back and match fit any time soon.

On the plus side, Ethan Pinnock was hanging with Buzz and Buzzette outside the ground before kick off. The prognosis for his own return something the player said would be after right International break. Good news indeed, although who then misses out the sort of problem Thomas Frank must relish trying to unravel.

That’s one for the future, for now it is all about Brentford and Arsenal. The Gunners brutal. Devastating. Giving a clear demonstration of why they are the only team in the land keeping Manchester City off the top of the table. The sternest test faced by The Bees so far this season by some distance. It was a test we had no chance of passing after William Saliba and Gabriel Jesus had given our guests a two goal lead with less than a half hour on the clock. Two headers. Two goals. Too bad for Brentford. The midfield packed tighter than a pair of Tom Jones’ jeans.  Our own Triple Js – Jensen, Janelt and Josh Dasilva  – unable to make any real headway. Rico Henry and Aaron Hickey putting in the hard yards down the flanks.

Bryan Mbeumo with the closest chance just prior to half-time but that was it. Very much playing second fiddle on an afternoon where the atmosphere was the only thing flatter than the pint of Guinness served up during the interval. Truly the worst pint I’ve ever experienced – and there have been some bad ones over the years. Brentford very much with a problem clearing our lines, it would seem. Not for the first time yesterday.

Brentford (L) v The Griffin – (R)

If anything, it set the mood for what came next. Fabio Vieira ending any thoughts of a fairytale comeback for Brentford within minutes of the restart. His shot from outside the box beating everybody to fly home off the inside of the post. It was devastating. Game over, Man. Game over. Anther forty minutes to struggle through. The only feasible option left being that of goal difference containment. Something David Raya did his level best to maintain. Arsenal, on the other hand, when not attacking doing everything possible to channel all of football’s dark arts. Injuries. Niggles. Time wasting. Cramp. Hammy pratfalls. Referee Mr. Coote unable, or seemingly unwilling, to do anything about any of it.

The sad thing being there was no need for any of it. They were the better team on this occasion. We haven’t been owned this much since Matthew Benham took over.  It just gave an ever more frustrating feel to an already frustrating afternoon. Any thoughts of coherent flowing football snuffed out by shenanigans and shithousery. Arsenal, the only team to sit down longer than popular music’s James. 

That’s on them. They won. So it could be said that the gameplan worked. To be honest, a strangely muted Brentford team could have still been playing now and I don’t think we’d have found a way through. One Ivan Toney free kick momentarily suggesting a replay of ‘that’ moment against Leeds United but it went over. Mikkel Damsgaard also with a half-chance but that was about it. Hats off to Arsenal. Likewise their fans who, along with the Bees, gave the perfect display during the pre-match silence, the national anthem and then the 70th minute applause.

A rare first half foray forwards

For me, the applause on the 32nd minute for Robert Rowan was equally poignant. This with the feeling of much more a spontaneous, personal and fan lead gesture. We’ll never forget. 

The sad news continuing late into the night when the GPG shared this update… 

There can’t be many amongst us who didn’t know or, at the least, recognise Howard. An absolute legend of Griffin Park and a Bee through and through. Along with former manager Fred Callaghan’s sad passing also being announced, it’s been a sad week all round. I’m sure the club will do all they can to remember these two Bees’ legends when we are all together again for Brighton.

For now, time for International break. We’ve the the small matter of Ivan Toney in the England squad. Friday night in Italy could be a whole lot of fun. What price on him to score ? Well, 13/8 for an anytime bet. I might make a small investment. Purely for research purposes.  

The only other unfinished business from the game yesterday is that of our Star Man and top five player awards. That piece has gone live and you can find it here….

Nick Bruzon

All set for another nice kick about with the boys?

17 Sep

Sunday lunchtime has The Bees back in action. Our first game since Ivan Toney was called up for the England squad. No doubt set for another nice kick about with the boys. Table topping Arsenal the visitors but with confidence sky high following the 5-2 tanking of Leeds United last time out, we won’t be afraid of anyone who might try to play in our house. Guys there is only one team on that f**king pitch – and it’s us! Just ask Jesse Marsch. Or Erik ten Hag. Yet with the trip to Southampton curtailed following last Friday’s news about The Queen, could momentum have been lost? Or will it be seen as an extra game in the back pocket ahead of returns for Ethan Pinnock and Christian Norgaard (errr…)? Sergi Canos has already been deemed fit for the weekend. What price a return from the bench and another moment to match last season? You know, when he scored our opening goal in a game where the The Bees beat the Gunners and topped the Premier League.

What a game last season….

Of course, this time around it is Arsenal who have come flying out of the traps. Their 3-1 defeat at Manchester United in the previous fixture being the only reverse on an otherwise unblotted copy book. Five wins on the bounce prior to this has seen them top of the league table going in to this weekend’s abridged fixture list and, to be fair, looking magnificent. Manchester City may have traded in Gabriel Jesus but he has found his feet, fast. Granted, not as fast as Erling Haaland at the Ethiad but, to be fair, not even Ivan is banging them in that quickly.

Arteta’s other impressive summer signing from City, Oleksandr Zinchenko, is unlikely to feature in this one. Thankfully. He is one of several injury-related question marks but the strength in depth they now have means that whomever features in the first XI is sure to provide a top (top) level threat. Then again, one could say the same about Brentford. Whilst Manchester United was the headline grabber, for me the performance agasint Leeds United was up there with our most impressive in years. Ben Mee just magnificent at the back and, on any other day, would have been star man in this game by a country mile.

Then, Ivan stepped up and did his thing. Three goals of the highest quality. A trademark penalty, ‘that’ free kick and then the presence of mind and calmness of finish to hold his position until executing that quite delightful chip over half the Leeds defence. No wonder Marsch took his frustration out on Keith Stroud. Jesse hold on. As popular music’s B*Witched once sang. As if any could forget the double-denim sporting toe-tappers’ first single not to top the hit parade.

View from the South Stand – Ivan does it. Again. This time, Leeds United

We digress. As ever. C’est la vie. Ivan very much the man of the moment. Arsenal the team on fire. The game one to absolutely whet the appetite. If for no other reason given what happened last season in what a first ever fixture at this level for just about all Bees’ fans, barring a few. It’s a quite incredible memory to have but, equally, one to now recall in fond terms rather than rely on as any barometer of form. That was then. This is now. Both teams have changed. Both teams are better. With Thomas Frank utilising his five substitutes every game, Brentford are very much set up with a starting and finishing XI. Yoanne Wissa very much doing his thing from the bench in quite delightful style. Aaron Hickey giving Rico Henry a run for his money down the opposite flank.

And, for the record, how Rico has missed out on England selection is a question I’d love to put to Gareth Southgate. Gareth, if you are reading… ok, he isn’t, but I can’t be alone in wondering that one. Moreso, given some of the out of form ’staples’ selected once again. Rico’s chance will come and what better time or place to show why he should have been called up than Sunday at the G-Tech. I’m sure the England coach will be in attendance and whilst, of course, Ivan Toney will understandably be the centre of everyone’s attention, let’s not put it past Rico to show what he has too.

I can’t wait for the one. The decision to cancel football last weekend, when every other sport continued as per, a decision I am struggling with. Surely it should have been all or nothing ? We can’t change it now but we can make up for lost time. The build up and conclusion will likely be more sombre than normal – the announcement from the club telling you that – but once referee David Coote gets things underway you can bet on the roof being lifted off.

The other Brentford story form the week was another home shirt. Whilst, of course, we’ve blazed trails in retaining last season’s kit, there has been a slight tweak. A quite wonderful tweak. Long sleeves are back. Almost non-existent amongst any Premier League team, Umbro have supplied us with this most wonderful of features. As a complete and self-confessed shirt nerd it has always been my default choice, albeit one denied since the Championship (one of a few yellow Skyex aways, obtained c/o ‘other sources’, aside). Now they’re back. The club shop has them in stock and this Sunday will see yours truly wearing it in anger.

Perhaps with a jacket, given the weather has turned…

Leeds United fell apart (again) a fortnight ago. You can catch up on all of that, here. Will it be Arsenal’s turn on Sunday? I can’t wait to find out. See you there.

We do love a ‘long sleeved’ in our house

Nick Bruzon

Old man shouts at the wind as Gameweek five approaches.

30 Aug

Next up for Brentford, Crystal Palace. Two teams who received another reminder (would that one were needed) at the weekend, that it is goals rather than justice which wins football matches. For The Bees, a 1-1 draw at home to Everton was a game where despite a full on assault on the visitors’ goal (and woodwork) it took until the 85ths minute for Vitaly Janelt’s equaliser. Palace meanwhile stormed into a 2-0 lead up at City that, arguably, could well have seen the add a third to that tally but for the officials. Sadly for them, they were up against a team boasting Erling Haaland. His second half hat-trick, tucked away in under twenty minutes, saw Pep Guardiola’s team run out 4-2 victors. Elsewhere, Richard Keys has crawled back out from under his rock to remind the world what a twat he is. When Fulham have the moral high ground, this following his comments about table topping Arsenal, then you know not all is right with the world.

We can only start with the game at Selhurst Park this evening. For Brentford it is a chance to pick up where we left off against Everton. There are no easy matches in the Premier League, regardless of how they may look on paper or in a Qatari TV studio. The Toffees set up their stall to play in a certain way and despite our very best efforts, finding a way through was a mostly futile task. Credit, such as it is, to Everton. They had a gameplan, stuck to it and almost pulled off what would have been a morale-boosting win. Instead they found themselves pegged back to record a second point of the season. The Bees came close but, in the end, it wasn’t sufficient to take the win. On another day perhaps we might have. Instead, the two teams gave supporters the consummate lesson in taking chances when they present themselves.

No complaints.

Brentford came close but couldn’t capitalise on chances created

As for Crystal Palace, one has to feel for them. Whereas The Bees went to the Ethiad last season and tried to do what Everton did to us on Saturday, Palace took the opposite tack and went for it from the off. Watching back, it was as exciting a start to a game as one could expect. Even if the ending had a familiar inevitability about it. In Erling Haaland, Manchester City have only made themselves even stronger. You can’t put a price on such a potent finisher with the golden boot already looking as though it will have a new home. Six goals in his first four games is a blistering pace to set. Good luck to Nottingham Forest tomorrow night. 

Still, that’s a problem we won’t have to worry about for al little while. Instead all the focus is on Selhurst Park. Vitaly Janelt and Keane Lewis-Potter both impressed from the bench against Everton. Much as they did the week previous at Fulham. Whilst both combined for the equaliser it was as much the energy and renewed vigour they brought to the finishing XI.

One can only assume they’ll both be in with a very realistic chance of starting this evening. Yoanne Wissa was very much off his game whilst, and this may be blasphemous, I thought Josh Dasilva struggled. He’s an absolute player and a half but Saturday just didn’t feel like his day. Perhaps a change around is coming. Pontus remains touch and go at the back having missed out at the weekend whilst we already know Mikkel Damsgaard isn’t ready for a start. Yet.

Last season’s 0-0 was deemed a hard fought point at the time for newly promoted Brentford. An impressive start continuing after ‘that’ table topping 2-0 defeat of Arsenal. This time around, I don’t expect the challenge to be any easier. Patrick Viera has seen his team face the toughest of openings with defeat to the Gunners part of a run that also included  Liverpool away (1-1). Aston Villa were swept aside 3-1 with the impressive Wilfried Zaha grabbing a brace (albeit missing a penalty before putting away the rebound) aswell as Eberechi Eze and Jean-Philippe also grabbing the plaudits. 

Last season’s 0-0 at the Palace was hard fought

Injury news suggests Zaha may well be a doubt for this evening. Here’s hoping, given his prolific scoring rate. He’s bagged five of their last six league goals at Selhurst Park aswell as finding the net in all four of 2022’s home wins. Keeping him quiet (preferably absent) and nullifying the impressive Eze would seem to be key the strategy should Brentford have any aspirations of adding to our points total.  It is another ‘way’ sell out despite being available on a variety of other sources. Primarily BT Sports – a place where, thankfully, anybody unable to make it will at least be spared Richard Keys.

The former Sky Sports dinosaur is now working for (checks internet) beIN Sports of Qatar where, at least he is consistent with how out of touch he remains about the modern game. His weekend rant about Arsenal, having just recorded their fourth win on the bounce to make it 12 Premier League points out of 12 and top the table, even included the line about their coaching staff ‘celebrating like they’ve won the FA Cup’. Now where have we heard that before? The reason for his ire – the opposition. A proper ’teams like’ diatribe about Fulham. 

Been there. Done that

Granted, I’ve no time for their sponge cakes, gin bars, clacker banging, foam-finger waving, Michael Jackson loving atmosphere but, you know, each to their own. On pitch, there’s nobody in the top flight that is just going to roll over and die every week. Nobody incapable of giving anyone else a real test. This isn’t a division where Derby County’s mergre 11 points and goal difference of -69 from 2007-08 is under any threat.

It is a league where anybody is able to beat anybody on their day. Just ask Manchester United. So to bang on about Arsenal over-celebrating a win that maintained their 100% start to the season was as insulting to them as it was to their opponents. And that’s a tough thing to have to write.  Perhaps somebody better get down there and explain offside to him.

Maybe it was nothing more than desperate attention seeking. An attempt to sound relevant having been absent from the public eye for so long. Nothing more than an old man shouting at the wind. It’s a shame his patter wasn’t as smooth as his hands and instead he remains as out dated as ever. Still, that’s his problem.

Instead, for us it is all about Brentford and Crystal Palace. On whether Thomas will stick or twist with his staring XI? On another day, we may well have had a hat full against Everton. You can read the full post-match debrief here, btw. The important thing now is how we kick on and I can’t wait to find out….

Nick Bruzon  

He’s going to play. They both are !!

26 Feb

Well that’s been about the worst week imaginable. There can’t be any amongst us not experiencing some or all of the obvious emotions about what’s going on across the other side of Europe. Shock, anger, fear, disgust, angst and just utter despair about the actions of one man  with that terrifying combination of maniacal tendencies that are off the scale and a microscopic penis (he must, surely, be over compensating for something?). It feels wrong to be in a position where everything is ‘normal’ but we’re the lucky ones where it is and for that reason, even if just for the family, we’ll be carrying on. For us, that means Brentford hosting Newcastle United. Last week’s game at Arsenal now filed away and The Bees moving on to the first in a sequence of three fixtures against clubs currently in the bottom four. Norwich City (a) and then Burnley (h), also to follow.   

The news out of the press conference yesterday was just about as good as it was possible to get for Brentford fans…. 

Christian Eriksen will be in the squad, and he will get on the pitch to make his debut.

It’s going to happen….

Not my words, Carol. The words of Thomas Frank. Talk about a boost to a midfield which, at times, has seen uphill runs become power-sappingly mundane and overtaking National Express coaches become a long, drawn-out affair. Parking the bus proving far too adept a tactic at stopping the Brentford attacking force. Now, we have Christian available. We have Josh Dasilva starting games again – seeing him on the pitch at 3pm at Arsenal a sight to behold – and we have that other bonus offered up but Thomas…. 

We have all players available, which is positive. That also means Ivan Toney will be involved in the squad tomorrow.

Finally. This is just great news. One can only hope Ivan will be on from the start. He’s been hugely missed and the combination of him and Josh Dasilva in the attacking third one I cannot wait to see. Let alone when you then chuck Christian Eriksen into the mix. 

Actual. Christian. Eriksen. Playing for Brentford. With apologies, its been almost a month now and I still can’t believe it is about to happen. Yet it is. All the reports out of training and those pre-season friendlies suggesting that his story is en-route for a fairy tale ending. I’m sure he’ll come off the bench for this one and, when he does, that most will be immense. That noise will be huge. Even the Newcastle fans might join in, such was the global reach of last summer. The football family united as one.

For me, he’ll come in to a midfield three that will, or at least should, start as Norgaard, Dasilva and Janelt. With Shandon Baptiste and Mathias Jensen also available to pick from, we’ve suddenly got choice. Huge choice. When fully fit, that choice will only get tougher. 

The obvious hope here is that Brentford will be given that added cutting edge we’ve been struggling to find in recent games. The defence seems to have sorted itself out, as much as it can with the options available, although the right wing back channel against Arsenal looked brutal. Mads Roerslev will begin this one, surely?

As we’ve said, many times, players can only play where they are asked. That said, sometimes the peg feels just too square for a particular round hole. Much better keep that option available for higher up the field. Nobody can knock the effort or desire whilst some of the vitriol seen and heard from certain ‘fans’ is just nothing short of embarrassing. Get a grip.

That’s me, I suppose. Embrace the positive. Look at where we are and what we have achieved so far. Fourteenth in the Premier League. Other clubs failing to win the much talked up ‘games in hand’ . See also: last season. Another year in the top flight is there for the taking and, for the record, it will be. A campaign lasts 38 games. Not 7(seven), 8 or 9. The thread below also giving some much needed sense but, also, insight into supporter mindset in some of the replies / quote tweets.

Our start was wonderful. Our run of covid and injuries less so. It would impact any team, let alone one with the budget and set up of ours. That recent sequence of fixtures still showing all the fight one would expect (Southampton aside, which was just a giant turd of a performance), most of which were against clubs aiming for The European places and the title. Now that particular challenge, at least, has been overcome. Everyone is back and we can see what the team does with those added midfield elements. 

Honestly, having both Christian and Josh added to the mix is just HUGE.  Its not a gimme, of course. The team still need to do their thing. The crowd need to get behind them, too. Likewise, Newcastle United aren’t just gong to roll over. The Magpies still sitting way close to that trap door for their liking although recent results have seen them hit form once more and pull out of that awful nose dive that dominated so much of the season.

Allan Saint-Maximin remains the obvious danger man although his participation seems in doubt. Eddie Howe confirming that the player was still in Monaco on Thursday for medical reasons, seeing a personal physio and receiving what was described as the “Best and most intense treatment” possible. (What’s French for anti-gravity treadmill? ).

Draw what you will from that update. Is there any real hope? Will it be the bench at most?  Big money signing Kieran Trippier amongst those definitely missing out too. In the end, though, as we’ve proven against Arsenal. Against Liverpool, Against Chelsea and both Manchester clubs. Quite simply, it doesn’t matter who Brentford are up against IF we choose to play. If we find the ball. If the crowd get behind the team then this side can be up there with the very best. Can drive Cristiano Ronaldo to stropping off – still up there in the highlights of the season to date.

Don’t cry for me, Cristiano…. The mother of all tantrums

We’ve had some wonderful moments so far this campaign. We’ve more than held our own for all but three or four games. Now to see if the return of a talisman and the arrival of a certain Dane can help write another new chapter in the Brentford story.

Bring it on and see you there. Perhaps crack out that mid-90s shirt, too….

Get your Ericsson kits out

Nick Bruzon

Is THE debut coming? Will a star return?

24 Feb

Next up for Brentford, Newcastle United. The Arsenal game has long since been put to bed with The Bees still in fourteenth (everyone) despite the mini-meltdown going on in some social media quarters. Instead, the forthcoming sequence represents a wonderful opportunity to both silence the doubters and even make ground on that top ten spot still being hoped for by some. Fourth bottom Magpies, then a trip to 20th placed Norwich City and a visit from a Burnley team also, currently, below the trapdoor. After Leeds United conceded their tenth goal in two games as they came dangerously close to a second bracketing of the winter (Liverpool only managing a mere 6 last night), anyone in TW8 pressing the panic button may want to look a little further afield.

The game at Arsenal has been and gone

Of course Saturday’s game a is a big one. They all are though. Obvious focus is on our recent run of results where only one point has been picked up out of the last 7(seven) games. Games that, let’s not forget, have included trips to Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal aswell as the visit from Manchester United.

Out of that run, only the car crash at Southampton has caused any stress. Truly, up there with the worst performances of the season. But enough about their supporters and the Coldplay light show that rubbed salt into an already gaping wound.

The last few minutes at St. Mary’s in January were as bad as they get. Anything but Paradise

Dwell on the negative all you want. Suck up the doom and gloom. Or cast that net a bit wider to reflect on the season gone so far. Remember that a campaign is defined by 38 games, not a handful. That we now have David Raya back. That the trip to Arsenal saw Josh Dasilva start his first game of the season. That, perhaps, most importantly we still have the prospect of Christian Eriksen to come.

Saturday is the day. Christian seems set to be in the squad with a place on the bench ready and waiting.  The two warm up games already played have seen him assisting more than the lovely Debbie McGee. First Southend United and then Glasgow Rangers put to the sword in behind-closed-doors encounters. The step up to top flight football will be a huge one for anybody, let alone a player who has been out of action for the best part of a year yet there is more than enough pedigree, not to mention points to prove, to suggest Brentford may have pulled off the coup of the transfer window in enticing Eriksen to Lionel Road.

Christian helps pull another rabbit form the hat

The player’s own prognosis after the game with Rangers offering further optimism, ”I am actually a bit surprised that my body is acting as it is … I’ve been training hard but 𝙄 𝙙𝙞𝙙𝙣’𝙩 𝙚𝙭𝙥𝙚𝙘𝙩 𝙞𝙩 𝙩𝙤 𝙗𝙚 𝙖𝙨 𝙜𝙤𝙤𝙙 as I feel now.”

Then, of course, there’s a certain goalscorer. After missing the last three games with a minor calf injury, Ivan Toney was pictured back in training this week. His endeavour has been desperately missed. Even half an hour in the denouement of the Arsenal game may have altered the result but we’re talking ifs, buts and maybes. Instead, the tactic would appear to have been a clear one of zero-risk, picking your battles and ensuring he is completely fit and niggle free ahead of the run in. Ahead of this mini sequence that, should it go our way, will see nerves calmed and the table climbed.

What you can say for sure is that any team without Ivan Toney is a weaker team. That he has been sorely missed That the prospect of seeing him in a line up that also include Josh Dasilva, let alone Christian Eriksen, is one that has us all salivating. The greatest power trio since ZZ Top. Whether Newcastle is too soon for that combination to play out remains to be seen but it will come. And when it does……! 

Whether this also prompts any formation change also remains to be seen.  I can’t see Thomas Frank staring with anything but his regular three centre backs supported by Rico on the left and, err, Sergi or more likely Mads on the right. The calls to shift Kris Ajer out right are becoming more and more vocal by they day but teams have never been picked by social media. For me, Clive, it would be too much of a risk. Play your best players in their best positions. Take the game to the opposition so that defence is as much a secondary consideration as anything else. Now is not the time for further experimentation. 

There’s two ways to look at the last twelve games of the season. Either a wonderful opportunity to build on the, mostly success, of a first Premier League campaign. To continue an unexpected push for the top ten. To cheer on our team. To enjoy the positive rather than wallow in doom and gloom. Or to embrace negativity.

Personally speaking, I’m in the former camp. This season has been the most incredible fun already. The most unexpected. I want more of it. We will have more of it. We’re fourteenth, everyone. Last time I looked it was only 18,19 and 20 who went down. I’ve supported Brentford fo far too long for this to be considered a ‘bad’ table position. My word, some of the comments out there. But that’s me. I get some might be concerned but all being well, let’s hope some words are eaten over the next few weeks. So we can enjoy that season finale with Leeds United for all the right reasons. 😉

Instead, it’s a case of looking forward to Ivan’s return. To host starting. To a certain Dane coming off the bench….

I can’t wait . Bring it on and see you there.

Until then, here’s the Arsenal deep dive and what might have been on Saturday….

Nick Bruzon

Arsenal debrief. Will there be changes for Newcastle?

21 Feb

A 2-1 win for Arsenal. A 6th defeat in 7(seven) Premier League games for Brentford. The question of when we’ll see Christian Eriksen make a first top flight appearance for The Bees hanging heavy in the air. His 80 minute run out against a Glasgow Rangers XI, whilst perhaps not as tough opposition as Southend United in his previous game, putting more miles on the clock and suggesting that the bench for Newcastle United on Saturday may be feasible. Moreso, given his hand in both Brentford goals.

Before all that though, the last knockings from the Arsenal game on Saturday. Who made the top five for Brentford? What positives can we take from the game at The Emirates? Will changes be made for the visit of Newcastle United on Saturday? As ever, the player review and post match debrief is now up. Here.

Enjoy.

Arsenal get cocky. Brentford go home empty handed. Next up, Newcastle…

20 Feb

Arsenal 2 Brentford 1. Defeat for the Bees but one which came with both good and bad. A game played out in a cracking atmosphere with the Bees fans getting stuck in and, unexpectedly, the home support actually making noise. Unexpectedly given their own reputation, our previous visit and the ‘noise’ (or lack of) already experienced this season in the games at Liverpool and Spurs. Big ground does not equal big volume, that’s for sure. Yet despite more empty seats than a studio recording of Mrs Brow… sorry, My Family, it stayed lively throughout. Even turning hilariously tetchy towards the end with one fan getting played like second hand fiddle. What is it about green jackets? Yet none of this bonhomie changes a nil return for Brentford. The forthcoming trio of games : Newcastle United (h), Norwich City (a), Burnley (h), now looking like they will play a key role in helping decide which of those clubs may go down aswell as giving a wonderful opportunity to strengthen our position in the table and calm any jangling nerves.

The Bees come close on a rare sortie into the Arsenal box

Post-match commentary was interesting:

Nice kick about with the boys. The apparently prolific Lacazette proving himself anything but in either goal scoring (nil return) or humility..

fun session today – Emile Smith-Rowe who, up against the defensive prowess of Sergi Canos – we’ll get there in a moment – at least managed to score.

Footballers being footballers, eh? Or arrogant dicks? Take your pick. 

For me, Clive, don’t give it if you can’t take it and the key observation was not from a player but one overheard from an irate Arsenal fan in the queue or the Piccadilly line home:  

We’re getting excited because we’ve scraped past the shittest team in the league 2-1. 

Arsenal twitter – a real work of art

Let’s not make any pretence here, Arsenal deserved to win. They actually played football. Brentford guilty of showing too much respect and, whilst colossal at the back, no real drive forward.  Hardly the shittest team but one that were bereft of attacking desire. Looking to contain rather than go for the jugular. For all that Arsenal were dominant, you could see them wobbling when we eventually stepped up. Christian Norgaard’s goal, sadly too late. 

Instead, we’d already had to endure the usual gamut of sideways and backwards passing in the seeming desire to carve out a perfect opening. Mathias Jensen, mercifully subbed off after an injury. Sergio Canos, not his fault that he is being asked to play out of position, but looked out of his depth trying to defend against this calibre of opposition. Ivan Toney again absent following his ‘minor calf injury’.

That’s all three Premier League games missed since the fuckgate tape emerged. Is the injury report correct or could the player be suffering form a case of video nasty? One thing’s for sure, we need him up top. On the rare instance the ball got into the Arsenal box, we could have killed for his attacking presence. His dead eye cool in front of goal.

All being well this is nothing more than Thomas Frank being ultra cautious going into a game which, at least prior to kick off, the home side would have been red hot favourites to win. To play percentages and hold his star man back for the forthcoming 9 points we’ll be competing for. For Ivan to be fighting fit when he gets the chance to show Newcastle United what might have been.

Certainly, the vibe at the moment feels as though we’re trying to close games out and banking on that early season run being sufficient to carry us over the line. To pick up wins in targeted games against ‘teams like….’ with anything else in between being a bonus. Phil Giles appears to be flavour of the month amongst the usual suspects on twitter, bemoaning his ‘tactics’ of not strengthening in the transfer window. 

And I can see why that view point may be taken but I’d refer back to a paragraph written last week. Which I’ll republish here, just because :

All the wailing and gnashing of teeth about the transfer window won’t change anything. Our targets were flagged and they didn’t include defensive cover. Get over it. Getting on the backs of those asked to fill in won’t help any. This team has enough about it for people to be getting upset about what some may consider to be not having a recognised right back. I’m not an idiot. I’d love another option there. I’d love another option up top. I’d love Ivan to be playing further forward. To see chances being created for him and snaffled as we did last season but we’ve set our stall out and, mostly, held our own. Laid foundations for the rest of this campaign and what may come beyond.

I guess the issue is that when the gaps are exposed, they look brutal. Mathias Jensen has been playing really well in recent weeks but yesterday was not it. Anything but. Sergio Canos the same. Again, let’s be clear that this isn’t his position. Marcus Forss scoring at Loftus Road for Hull City a question that does make the decision to loan him out, with Ivan now awol, seem an even more perplexing one.

All of which leads back to the simple fact that this is us now playing those percentages. Looking to stay calm and pick off the wins in the games played outside of those top six clubs. Of having those opening twenty minute bursts at home as we did against the two Manchester clubs. Of locking it up at the back as we did for so long at Manchester City, Liverpool and then yesterday until the dam eventually broke. Of not buying recognised right wing back cover given we may also need to spend on the other flank. Rico Henry’s contract won’t sign itself and until that situation is resolved I can imagine trying to rebalance the squad is something that remains in a holding pattern.

Yesterday was too cautious, though. Arsenal were rattled when we pushed. Had we done it sooner then who knows? But we didn’t. You can’t deny the league position and the spending power of our hosts. Cripes, if I had their resources a I’d be sharing the views of the aforementioned fan. Not just about Brentford but Burnley, Wolves and those other teams they’ve struggled against in recent week. Maybe its the optimist in me but I really thought that yesterday we’d do more. Could have and would have. Instead, nil points was the return.

Let’s not forget, also, that we’re 14th, everyone. Not 18th. Not 19th. Not 20th. That games in hand actually need to be won. That form then needs to be maintained. Just saying. Don’t shoot the messenger. That table doesn’t lie.

We’ll share the Brentford player and performance review shortly. Here and on its own page. For now, its more a case of at least knowing our players stayed classy. Our next game is at home. That Josh Dasilva is starting games again. That Christian Eriksen will surely make it off the bench against Newcastle United.

That moment is going to be immense and I can’t wait. See you there….

Come on H. Arsenal weren’t that boring. A long day takes it’s toll

Nick Bruzon

Could he start tomorrow? Here’s hoping !

18 Feb

Brentford travel to Arsenal on Saturday afternoon, looking for a first Premier League ‘double’ of the season. Victory for the Bees would and reduce the points gap between us and the sixth placed Gunners to single figures. The presence of David Raya and that increased defensive strength seen at Manchester City then last time out when Crystal Palace came to West London gives heart and continues to engender optimism. Likewise, the return to action of Josh Dasilva. With news on Ivan Toney still somewhat, err, scant could it be elsewhere that the blockbuster bombshells are dropped? The run out for Christian Eriksen on Monday afternoon causing many to wonder if a place on the bench at Arsenal is now beckoning or do we need to wait for Newcastle United next weekend?

Going for more of the same agasint Arsenal this weekend

For me, Clive, surely it’s too early? Surely? Match fitness will be key. We’re all brutally aware that a behind closed doors friendly is one thing but a full on Premier League fixture in the cauldron of silence that is The Emirates another. Common sense dictates that the bench at home to Newcastle is likely the earliest we’ll see our latest signing in actual action. Who knows, though? Who actually knows? These aren’t the sort of things that are generally advertised. A couple of days or a couple of weeks? All we can say is that when it comes it’ll be immense. The welcome received against Crystal Palace reason enough to understand the place is going to go nuts when, and where, it happens.

Until then, the more likely option for Brentford is a start for Josh Dasilva. My word, it’s been wonderful having back in action. One of our shrewdest acquisitions of all time, he is already showing us how much he’s been missed. The brief cameo at Everton has now been fleshed out to half hour slots against Manchester City and Palace. With the full game under his belt on Monday, could the trip to Arsenal see him finally start?

Is Josh set to start from the off rather than the bench?

My own guess is, yes. A 60 minute run out before being replaced by Vitaly or Mathias. Thomas making no secret of his substitution timings at present. With Ivan missing the last two games, the presence of Josh would provide a massive attacking option should our main man up top be missing again. The prospect of them playing together even more tantalising. That will come at some point soon. Perhaps Saturday. Perhaps Newcastle. Perhaps beyond. It’s a wonderful thing to be discussing once again. Options. Choice. A team that is no longer being held together by injury and covid related sticky tape. We’re still not ‘full strength’ but then again, at this stage of the season, who is?

At least we have David Raya back and already looking strong as an ox. The challenge seen for those filling in for a figure of his stature akin to replacing Arsene Wenger. It takes more than gloves or an oversized anorak to replace a legend. Wearing the kit doesn’t guarantee being able to forge that bond with your new team. Thankfully, David is back. Kris, Ethan and Pontus are looking colossal. The Crystal Palace and Manchester City games even saw us mange to clear all 18 corner kicks taken by our opponents. That the goals conceded at the the Ethiad were down to sloppy individualism rather than collective ineptitude giving further heart. Those wrinkles have been addressed and the discipline seen, if maintained, may well give us the platform on which to build this Saturday.

If nothing else, it’s a wonderful opportunity just to prove that the season opener was no fluke. The 2-0 defeat of Arsenal that saw us top the Premier League table was as deserved as they come, despite the chagrin voiced from certain quarters. Suck it up, the table doesn’t lie. Sergi’s opener was wonderful. Norgaard’s finish the cherry on an already well iced cake. The reaction at full time telling you all you needed to know.

Of course it will be tougher this time around. The atmosphere back in August was as highly charged as it comes. That can’t ever be recreated when it is the librarians who have the majority of bums on seats. Albeit you can bet our 3,000 will be giving it their all to raise the roof and remind Arsenal they’re in a game. That Brentford aren’t just here to make up the numbers. Obvious tub-thumping and to an extent clichéd stuff by numbers but, nonetheless, still true.

Anyone who has seen us at our best this season knows what we can do when properly on it. We are getting ourselves back in the zone of that early season brilliance. Getting David back and seeing Josh out on the pitch once more has been simply HUGE. Game changers the pair of them. You can understand what Arsenal saw in both players.

The former, coveted.

The later, well that’s their problem….

Arsenal are on it, too, btw. Don’t expect the same pushovers seen at Lionel Road. They won at Wolves last time out although have also seen the mixed bag of being held by Burnley having thumped Norwich City. One can’t ignore longer term form. They’re sixth and chasing that Europa League spot. The table doesn’t lie and this one will be tough. For BOTH teams. I can’t wait. Bring it on and see you there.

Nick Bruzon

One step closer to the mother of all first team comebacks….

15 Feb

Could Valentine’s Day have been any sexier? The pass from Christian Eriksen to free up Josh Dasilva for the first of the midfielder’s hat-trick when Brentford hosted Southend United in that ‘behind closed doors’ friendly yesterday was about as, err, stimulating as it got. It was a game in which the return of Tariqe Fosu would have had others licking their lips at the prospect of what might happen to our midfield by the end of the season. Most importantly though, it saw Christian back out on the field of play for the first time since, well, we all know. Will Arsenal on Saturday be too soon? Is a cameo from the bench against Newcastle United the more realistic option? Frankly, who knows? If the reception received when he appeared before the Crystal Palace game is anything to go by it’ll go bonkers when things finally happen for real. Whenever that may be.

A thing of beauty unfolds

There’s not much to really add at this juncture. The entire Brentford family united in good wishes to the player and anticipation about what will come, whenever it does. The most beautiful conclusion to the most awful of events. And yes, I’ve already referenced back to it. It’s just so hard not to. How lovely will it be when we are talking about what just happened in the Premier league rather than what happened in the Euros?

Surely everybody that wants to has seen the highlights already? They’re below if not. You’ve also got the ‘official’ report on Brentford ‘official’ which can be found here. All eyes were, understandably, focussed on Christian. Brentford was once again trending on Twitter (fists being shaken angrily from Essex where Brentwood continues that slide out of the limelight – of all the things that Matthew Benham has done, that’s up there with the best) but , for me Clive, it was Josh Dasilva who should be making us all take notice.

The three goals he scored were great but that he managed the full 90 minutes is just huge, huge news. He’s already had a clutch of half-hour first team appearances but could Arsenal on Saturday see his first start in the Premier League? Even if for one of Thomas Frank’s much telegraphed 60 minute substitutions? Might it give us the first hint at the favourite three in the middle? With Josh and Mathias Jensen both placing well in the Crystal Palace post-match round up – both yours truly’s attempt and, in the case of the later, ‘official MOTM – might Vitaly be the man to miss out?

It sounds implausible we’d even have to consider this. Short of switching the German U-21 to right wing back, reserve goalkeeper or keeping Christian (N) in front of the defensive trio and really locking up centre mid at the expensive of one of our more familiar attacking options, 3 into 4 won’t go. Make that 5 when Eriksen is good to go.

For me Clive, its not an immediate ‘problem’. I’d suspect that Thomas will stick with Janelt, Jensen and Norgaard for Arsenal.  Give Josh one more half hour appearance in the second half and then, boom. Newcastle United will see it all start in earnest. Then again, I thought Everton in the FA Cup was too early for David Raya and look what happened there?

David had an earlier than expected return

It’s a beautiful guessing game to have to play, that’s for sure. Only Thomas and his medical team have the answers. Only they know the preferred starting XI once everybody is fully fit. The sight of a squad decimated by covid nothing but a distant memory. The wealth of potential midfield riches a joy to behold.

Sometimes, less is more so let’s wrap up. We’re getting points back on the board after the Crystal Palace game. Next up, Arsenal on Saturday. That one’s a sell-out, of course, and will be huge.

The chance to complete our first Premier League ‘double ‘of the season.

The opportunity to go one better than our last visit to the library in Highbury.

The prospect of seeing who Thomas has available.

I can’t wait. Bring it on and see you there.

It says Liberia, not Library…

Nick Bruzon