Archive | Arsenal RSS feed for this section

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    

Who were the crown jewels against Palace ?

13 Feb

Another day, another game. Brentford arrested the recent run of defeats on Saturday afternoon with a 0-0 home draw against Crystal Palace. It was an afternoon that saw David Raya playing at home for the first time in months and Josh Dasilva finally back out in front of the Lionel Road crowd. Fingers crossed he’s good for Arsenal on Saturday, based on what we saw..

As ever, it’s time to take a look at some of the game highlights and those players that shone. Who were the Brentford top five? How does Thomas pick his midfield for Arsenal and beyond? Has the result agsasint Crystal Palace had any bearing on our season long hunt for the top Bees’ performers? Well, the thoughts on all of those can be found in the latest player review, here.

Enjoy

Nick Bruzon

Caution. Positivity may offend.

13 Feb

Blip averted after that run of five successive top flight defeats. One point rather than the three it might have been but a 0-0 between Brentford and Crystal Palace saw us building on the foundations (performance wise) laid at Manchester City during the week. With the trip to Arsenal next up, its not going to get any easier for the Bees. Likewise, for our opponents who will continue to find the Bees a tough nut to crack. The return of David Raya cannot be quantified. Kris Ajer and Ethan Pinnock consistently strong. Josh Dasilva making his first Premier League start at Lionel Road in some style and, of course, Christian Eriksen waiting in the wings. His introduction to supporters before kick-off setting the mood and creating expectation levels which one can only salivate at the prospect of being reached. All that’s to come though. For now, the game just played.

The moment

Brentford were solid at the back. The three centre backs clearing everything that came their way. Sergi Canos replacing Mads Roerslev in the right wing back position can only play where he is asked – albeit nobody would deny he’s definitely better when on the front foot. He always plays with his heart on his sleeve and started this one at 100mph. Waving his team mates on and exhorting the crowd upwards. As did Bryan. As did Rico. As did Matthias Jensen. Despite the absence of Ivan Toney once more, it was the Bees taking the game to Crystal Palace. It was referee Simon Hooper redefining the penalty kick laws and needing a new dictionary to look up the definition of the word: push.

Yet for all the positivity it was another game where chances were at a premium. Where optimism failed to create those clear cut opportunities. Where the will to win and the desire from the fans wasn’t enough to drag the ball into the net. And?

We could have won. Maybe should have won. Nobody has a divine right to be any good. To turn up and win. To get the points by simple virtue of expectation. This is the toughest league in the world. One we are competing in. Competing. One we are spending our first season in with a squad made up of players whose experience has been forged in the Championship. Or Below. A bench supplemented by players from the B-team. That’s just how we do things. Always has been.

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.

The return of David Raya is key. As is the continued rehabilitation of Josh Dasilva. I thought he was brilliant yesterday as another half-hour were tucked under his belt. With Mathias Jensen doing all the good stuff and Christian Eriksen still to come, it is the midfield where we have options. The midfield where battle will be done and games can be won. Good luck Thomas in fitting Vitaly, Josh, Mathias and the two Christians in to his team once all are fully fit and available.

A quite wonderful challenge to contemplate and one which far outweighs the ‘problem’ at right wing back.

I thought David Raya brought so much solidity when called upon. So much calm. The renewed acquaintance of the defence with their goalkeeper a beautiful thing to see unfolding once more. The goalkeeper’s distribution something we’ve been crying out for whilst his reaction speed in the dying seconds arguably stopped Crystal Palace taking all three points.

Ok – so the league title is now only a mathematical possibility. We’ve 13 games left. That’s 39 points left to play for. The exact same gap between us and Manchester City with both teams having played 25 games. Whilst it may never have been a realistic option, not long term, we’ve already topped the table once this season and who’s to say it won’t happen again? The season opening defeat of Arsenal providing a moment of optimism now matched by the arrival of Christian Eriksen.

The table doesn’t lie

Eriksen’s walk out on to the pitch before kick-off triggering a standing ovation from all sides of the ground. How quickly he returns, and how well, the questions on everyone’s lips. One thing’s for sure, the prospect of seeing him play again is a tantalising one. A prospect that will be fulfilled in Brentford colours. There’s a behind closed doors friendly on Monday and then the next league game is Saturday afternoon at Arsenal. He’ll feature in the former. Whether the later is a bridge too far at present remains to be seen but there’ll be even more intrigue when Thomas talks to the press on Thursday.

What are the expectations from this point in? So much supporter talk before the season began centred around 17th being the target. Personally, I thought tenth and with the gap to the top half of the table currently at five points, its still a feasible option. I do not and will not subscribe to any of this ‘sleep walking to relegation’ talk, that’s for sure. If positivity offends then that’s your issue, not mine.

With the exception of Burnley, Brighton, Southampton (all away) and Norwich (home) I think we’ve more than held our own in the league this season. Four dreadful performances out of twenty-five so far. That’s a brilliant achievement and should be celebrated. Sure, the results may not always have gone our way but look at who we are up against. Look at their budgets. Their experience.

I’d still be ecstatic to finish 17th but , genuinely, I think we’re better than that. That’s just an opinion of course and the sequence of games after Arsenal is one that sees us face off against sides currently in the bottom four – Newcastle United, Norwich City and Burnley. Anything but gimmes but also an opportunity to silence those uttering the ‘R’ word.

I can’t wait for any of it. All of it. Bring them on and see you there. Until then, the latest player performance review can be found here.

Next up, our first trip to Arsenal since the League Cup

Nick Bruzon    

Time to do another Arsenal? Or will a returning hero ruin the party?

11 Sep

Saturday and the Premier League is back. Brentford host Brighton in our second top flight fixture at Lionel Road following the game with Arsenal. As if anybody needed any further reminder about that one. A 2-0 home win that saw us hit the dizzy heights of first place and sent Mikel Arteta’s team to the bottom of the table. A place they still occupy with a total of no points and no goals. For the Bees, unbeaten and a record of WDD is a wonderful start with the opportunity to try and kick on again today. With Wolves (a) and then Liverpool (h) next up For Brentford in the league, nobody could deny the intensity of games or ongoing calibre of opposition at this level. Even Arsenal. Still, that was then and this is now. Brighton are coming and with them, of course, one particular name. One particular man. One Neal Maupay.

Maupay – a work of art

Shithousery. That’s the word (I’m assuming the editor has resisted the temptation to include it in the ‘family-friendly’ programme article today – although if you want to find out its available around the ground for the price of £4) . The undisputed master of this dark art. And we loved him for it. Absolutely loved him. The goalscoring wasn’t bad either. Ruining Fulham’s promotion push at the last minute or just ruining Leeds United. The pint sized magician was as skilled with the ball at his feet as he was with his studs on the opposition. He swore he’d stay. We were distraught when he left. We’ve all moved on. Now, we have a chance to offer a welcome back and then see how both he, and Brighton, have progressed.

Leeds United. Ruined. Many, many times

I have to say I’m excited going in to this one. Plus ça change. Table wise, Brighton have finished bottom quarter in the four seasons since we parted ways in the Championship and they hit the top flight. Don’t let that fool you into thinking that makes them (relatively) ‘easier’ opposition. Just to maintain this level is a feat in itself whilst, as the preview on ‘official’ notes in 2020/21 “Graham Potter’s side played far better than their results suggested last term. On expected goals, Albion finished fifth, with 20 points more than they actually earned, and with the third meanest defence in the division”.

Whilst the table doesn’t lie, performance needs to be noted. If nothing else, they currently sit above the Bees having already picked up six points. The one blot on the copy book coming at home to Everton last time out.    

For Brentford, everybody is fit barring long term injuries Mads Bech and Josh Dasilva. Our squad has been bolstered by the signing of Danish International Mathias Jørgensen, aka ‘Zanka’. He’ll be filling the Winston Reid role of emergency centre back and comes in as cover for Mads on a one year contract. With a wealth (is there any other sort? Gamut, perhaps) of experience, including Euro 2020 and World Cup 2018 he sounds like a shrewd acquisition. One can only presume bench, at best, today. The key question being whether Frank Onyekareturns in midfield or will be left…waiting for Ghoddos to lose his place. Sorry. Apologies. I’ve finally done it. But given Saman has been with us since September 2020, that’s not bad going.  

With that Portuguese chap set to debut for Manchester United today, it’s a safe bet we won’t be first up on Match Of The Day this evening. To be fair, the only thing stoping us being ninth in the running order is the fact there are only eight games taking place this afternoon. Fair enough. Reputations need to be earned. Praise not just handed out for the sake of it. With ghoulish fascination about the fate of Arsenal aswell as Spurs being handed the opportunity to stride further clear at the top, it doesn’t take a genius to pick the setlist. That’s football. 

Yet this afternoon’s game has all the hallmarks of a really close fought battle. A hotly contested encounter which will be played out in front of a full house. The raucous crowd sure to lift the players as they have done in the previous three games.  Hey, get it right and Gary Lineker may even have us on his couch before Watford – Wolves. 

I can’t wait. For the game (I’ll be asleep by the time MOTD comes around). Roll on 3pm.

See you there. And don’t forget your Covid pass…..

Full time against Arsenal – more of the same would be incredible….l

Nick Bruzon

Safe passage and a tasty warm up for Saturday.

25 Aug

Brentford safely through to the third round of the League Cup after coming from behind to defeat Forest Green Rovers 3-1 on a night that also saw six goals for Aston Villa. Amongst others. Saturday’s opponents falling one short of the magical 7(seven) that would have seen the brackets brought out of cold storage. For the Bees, a much changed line up did the needful with goals from Yoane Wissa, Bryan Mbeumo and Marcus Forss sufficient to see us into the next draw. That one takes place at around 9.45pm(ish) tonight, following the conclusion of the game between Arsenal and West Brom. Perhaps the Gunners will even manage to score. With Manchester City next up in the Prem, failure to do so could leave them scratching around the archives for entries to August’s goal of the month competition.

For a while it looked a bit iffy

For Brentford, relatively safe passage was as much as could be hoped for. We’re in the third round and, all being well, will be able to select our normal seats for that one. Should the reward for last night’s win be a home tie. Confusion and frustration the order of the day with fans displaced following a free for all on seat selection. How hard is it to get this sort of thing right? We go where we do for a reason. Whether dodgy knees requiring seats these days or simply a case of preferring to put the stand into the West Stand singing section as the action hots up. Nobody can deny the atmosphere that generates – come on already the ‘rails seats’ if that’s what it takes.

Still, we’re through. Forest Green making it tough and having the temerity to take the lead. Bravo and well played. Only Ethan Pinnock and Vitaly Janelt surviving from those who started the Premier league game with Crystal Palace. It was still a strong enough team and one further reinforced by the additions of Ajer, Canos, Mbeumo and Frank the Tank as events unfolded. Yet with the team playing catch up eventually strength told as the Bees cranked up the pressure. Yoanne Wissa on the hour, followed by Bryan and then, with opponents down to ten, Marcus Forss rounding things off. 

Loved this image from ‘official’ and their Twitter feed

Thomas Frank magnanimous enough to note both his opponents aswell his own tactical decisions at full time, telling the BBC that, ”I need to praise Forest Green Rovers, Rob Edwards and his staff, I think they did a top job and I think they were the better side in the first half” whilst his own tinkering with the formation, “maybe that didn’t help, maybe I didn’t help the boys as much as I should have done.”

Still, we’re through. We’ve Aston Villa in the league at the weekend. They warmed up for that one with their own win. A 6-0 away win at Barrow. With a quarter hour remaining when they hit the sixth it really was looking like brackets but, alas not. Still, they’ll be buzzing for that game and the Dean Smith reunion. I can already hear him telling the press corps that his team will have deserved to win. Regardless of whatever result transpires. With Ollie Watkins sitting out the season so far, not facing our old boy will be an advantage (of sorts) although the Villans looked imperious at the weekend. Newcastle United put to the sword in some style. Jack who now? 

Prior to all that is this evening’s draw. You can follow it on Sky, amongst other sources, although as it stands (8am) the ball numbers remain a mystery. Seemingly. Nobody has them up on club or news sites as yet. Not even on the Carabao Cup home page. With nothing more than click bait at present (stories titled along the lines of : get all your third round draw details, here, seeminlgy nothing more than a chance to list the 18 highest placed teams in the Premier league, and then Arsenal, it can’t be long until we find out our numerical fate. 

Whatever number we are bequeathed is not going to change too much. The most important thing being that we are through. If we are given a home tie then all the better. After missing out on our entire run to the semi-finals last season, the chance to watch live football and progress further is one that has us all chomping at the bit. How often would we say that about the League Cup in recent years?

Nick Bruzon