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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

Brentford v Leeds United. Post match debrief and player ratings.

5 Sep

Brentford 5 Leeds United 2. Any lingering frustration from the final game of last season was well and truly put to bed at Lionel Road on Saturday afternoon. Next up, the trip to Southampton at the weekend.

Ivan opens the floodgates

Despite the obvious goals from Ivan Toney, could anybody edge past him in the quest to discover our star man?  Who else shone for Brentford against a Leeds United team for whom Patrick Bamford was arguably their best defender (how he managed to steer the ball away from David Raya’s unguarded goal line is still a mystery)? Have any of the bench players done sufficient to make the starting XI for the game with Southampton?

And as ever at this juncture, the answers can be found in the post match debrief and player ratings. Which is now online here.

Nick Bruzon

Sorted for Bees and Wissa. Leeds pulped by Ivan hat-trick.

4 Sep

Ivan Toney you absolute goal scoring machine. Thomas Frank, you tactical genius. Brentford you beauties. Hey, even Keith Stroud. A 5-2 tonking of Leeds United at Lionel Road was a performance to rival that 4-0 win the other week. To make Frank Lampard realise how much of a bullet his Everton team may have dodged in the 1-1 last Saturday. As Manchester United discovered, when Brentford hit the back of the net there’s nobody going to stop us. Yet even then, what happened yesterday was beyond even the wildest of anyone’s pre-match predictions.

Brentford are up to 7th (seventh) in the Premier League table. The performance one of our greatest. Leeds blown away like an empty crisp packet caught on the breeze. Ivan Toney banging in a hat-trick of such quality it needs to be seen to be believed. The first, an ice-cool penalty of the like we’ve seen so many times yet which still induces that gut wrenching nausea. How can anybody be so calm from the spot? That two step approach to the ball at almost stumbling speed? Yet still bury it with all the speed of a hitman disposing of a still warm corpse?

Goooaalllllll. 1-0. Ivan from the spot

Then, the free kick to make it 2-0 just prior to half time. Shandon Baptiste being fouled out side the box and Ivan scoring with a world class curling ball into the top corner that left Meslier in nets able to do nothing beyond watch it go over the wall and beyond him. 

Yet it was the calmness of finish and presence of mind to stay cool for his hat-trick goal that had fans in raptures. Meslier rushing out of the box to prevent KLP from bearing down on goal was only able to find Ivan. Instead of hitting it first time he dribbled and waited until the time was right. Despite the plethora of Leeds defenders still in and around the box, his chip from outside the area cleared them all to make it 3-1 Brentford. Game over Leeds United. A hat trick of rare quality from a man whose stock continues to rise. With a World Cup approaching, he couldn’t have picked a better time.

Yet if Ivan’s goals gave the final result an air of inevitability, nothing could have been further from the truth. Patrick Bamford was then the right man in the right place to make wonderful goal line clearance when the ball was played over and the goalkeeper left stranded. That Leeds United were attacking at the time only goes to show just what a sweet, sweet afternoon it was turning out to be. How he steered it away from goal rather than in to the unguarded net I still have no idea. Still, that’s their concern.

Besides, a moment or two later they did manage to pull one back. A mess up in a crowded box or, as Mrs Bruzon so succinctly put things, ”A bit of a sorry shambles.” (or words to that effect). Urghh. The lead pegged back to 3-2 and ten minutes to go. It could, maybe should, have been a long and painful limp to the line. It’s Brentford, innit? Instead, the polar opposite was the case.

Within ten seconds of the restart, Bryan Mbeumo had double our lead once more. The desperate pleas for offside from Leeds not factoring in that it has been their own Koch who played him through. After you, Claude…. Meslier left with no chance. The game as good as over.

Then, who else but Wissa to round it off? Another cool finish as he stole the ball to run in on goal and fire it past Meslier. The moment underlined by Peter Gilham bursting into ‘Happy Birthday’ to Wissa as he announced the scorer. Only at Brentford.

It might have been six soon after that but let’s not be greedy. A wonderful afternoon with a wonderful scoreline. Captain Pontus letting everyone  – home and away – how he felt about things. About how much a Brentford man he is.

Despite all the goals perhaps the biggest cheer was one reserved for our old friend Keith Stroud getting in on the act as only he can do. Jesse Marsch may have a little back book chock full of former players he can sign up, but his lack of experience at this level was shown by his courting the wrath of Keith.

The warning signs were there for anybody in the know

Woebetide anybody messing around when the card happy official is on duty, let alone in the fourth official role. It takes brave, or naive, man to do that at any time. Let alone with Mr. Stroud having been seen a back door to potential Premier League officialdom opening.

Marsch may well have been incensed by the lack of penalty awarded to Leeds United. Personally, I’m not quite sure how we dodged it but, for once, VAR has gone our way. Move along, nothing to see here.

Yet his constant excursions outside the technical area and harassment of the officials would eventually be his undoing. Mr Stroud bringing the attention of referee Robert Jones to March’s transgressions and a red card was shown. Match of The Day helpfully capturing the moment, with Keith also pointing to the back of the stand from where Marsch had to watch the rest of the game.

Up there. Keep going until you reach the back

The post match debrief and player review is up shortly. Ivan has, of course, grabbed all the headlines but this was such a wonderful team performance that, if anything, only being able to choose another four players from the sixteen used by Thomas was a real challenge. From defence through midfield and infant of goal the tea were magnificent. The first holf hour suggesting a game that really could have gone either way. The Bees twice pulled back to a single goal lead until the advantage was eventually sledge hammered home.

In the end though, despite the heroics from everyone . Despite the cameo from Keith. Despite our own five goals all the headlines will be about one man. Ivan Toney. We know how good he is. Perhaps, finally, Gareth Southgate will be forced to sit up and take notice.  

As one final note, huge thanks to all at the club. Our own visit to the South Stand for this one culminated in yet another display of how chilled our own squad is. How down to earth they remain. How much of a family club we still are at heart.

One happy boy at FT

The excitement from our H when he met Wissa and Ben Mee, only matched by his chatting with Bryan at full time.

Fair to say somebody enjoyed himself

Likewise, this game even saw another jinx busted. ‘Bring somebody new. Lose the game’ . It has long been a mantra in our group that goes back to League Two days. We always want newcomers to come along for but, at the time, there seemed to be an almost predetermined outcome to what would happen in that situation. Taking the hit for the team and our friends.

Times are different now, of course, but coming from somebody who as recently as last season was luxuriating in the point pulling power of the green jacket, these habits die heard. Especially given my own choice of attire for this one was the equally lucky ‘Gary Blissett Hummel’. As such, to be told pre kickoff by part of the group from Hollywood Bets that, “This is my first Brentford game” the smile on my face was anything but reciprocated internally.

Prematch build up and lucky shirts with the team Hollywood Bets

Full time, of course, would turn out to be totally different. A 5-2 win proving that even the most ancient of taboos are no longer, necessarily, relevant in these days of Premier League football *.

That’s it for this one. Sometimes, words aren’t enough. You just have to revel in the moment. Enjoy the memories. Perhaps go and watch Match Of The Day just one more time……

Now bring on Southampton.

* Please note: I still reserve the right to wear the green jacket later this season.

Fair to say a wonderful time was had by all – even Nick from G-Tech .

Nick Bruzon

Crystal Palce v Brentford. Post match debrief and player ratings.

31 Aug

Crystal Palace 1 Brentford 1. Another point for The Bees and another last minute equaliser. Leeds United visit on Saturday and won’t fancy playing a team who play to the 90th minute and beyond.

This time around it was Yoanne Wissa who found the net for Brentford and shattered Crystal Palace hearts late on. Was it sufficient to earn him a starting berth for Leeds on Saturday ? Who was our star player? Who else made the top five in the season long quest to find the top Bees’ performer? Is anyone sweating on their place for the visit from Jesse Marsch’s XI ?

As ever at the juncture, the answers can be found in the post match debrief and player ratings. Which is now online, here….

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  

Brentford v Everton. Post match debrief and player ratings.

28 Aug

A 1-1 draw between Brentford and Everton saw points shared and questions for Thomas Frank ahead of this Tuesday’s trip to Crystal Palace. Good questions, mind you, as the second half changes have certainly given him some food for thought.

Where was Allan when Everton needed him?

As ever at this point, we ask who was the star man for Brentford? Who made the top five against Everton in our season long quest to find the top Bees’ performer? IS anyone sweating on their place for the trip to Crystal Palace?

And as ever, the answers can be found here in the post match debrief and player review….. 

Nick Bruzon

Brentford dominate sticky Toffees but points are shared.

28 Aug

Well wasn’t that the afternoon of tough work for Brentford? A 1-1 draw with Everton sees another point on the board and the Bees still in the top ten. It was a hard fought contest which felt, for huge swathes, as though we’d reach full time quoting our previous head coach Dean Smith and lamenting the fact that, “We deserved to win.” That, given the amount of chances created but unable to be taken relative to our opponents. Regardless, we’ll have to up our game somewhat if there is anything to be taken from the trip to Crystal Palace on Tuesday. The annihilation of Manchester United, still writ large on the cover of the matchday programme – an edition that had 12(twelve) pages of b&w Mikkel Damsgaard photos for us all to luxuriate in – now needs to be put to bed. We caught them at the right time but, as yesterday proved, The Bees need to be cleverer when presented with opponents for whom winning a game of football comes second behind killing it. We had our chances but it was one of those where we did everything but score a hatful.

It was tight in the middle

Don’t @me Everton fans. I think we’ve generally had nothing but good words to say when our paths have crossed. Likewise, we held up our hands after Brentford were humped in the FA Cup at Goodison Park last season. What comes next is hard to write about a club and supporters I’ve only got respect for. Yet Frank Lampard could well be in deep, deep trouble. His team were terrible. The tactics worse.

Injuries have bitten, sure, but the trouble seems to lie beyond that. If Anthony Gordon heads off to Chelsea they’re in even more trouble. Neal Maupay is an absolute class act but they’ll have to get the ball to him and, on this showing, I’ve just no idea how that’s going to happen.

Maupay’s fighting spirit is much needed

Brentford should have been much smarter. Sharper. Perhaps luckier.  There were plenty of opportunities from the clear cut (Bryan and, frustratingly, Wissa when the back of the net was crying out to be hit) to the unfortunate – Jensen, Ivan and then Norgaard. The later providing the most spectacular of all when his bicycle-kick hit the post. Brentford finding more wood than Ron Jeremy performing a Bryan Mbeumo 2020/21 tribute act. Jordan Pickford also had his moments – that is, when he wasn’t channeling his inner Bryce Samba. 

When your game plan is to score on the hoooooofffff and then run down the clock with an hour of time-wasting, procrastination and more dubious injuries than the average episode of Casualty (not to mention amazing recoveries to match), things are grim. It was turgid. Ten mend behind the ball at all times and constricted into a 20 yard space. Wissa’s fire extinguished by a blue duvet. Josh Dasilva unable to work any space.  Ivan and Bryan finding it tough going.  No complaints. Brentford can only play who they are up against and in Everton, it seemed to be a team already firmly locked in survival mode. They did what they set out to do very well although when your personal bar is set that low it isn’t hard.  

It wasn’t until the 86th minute that Vitaly Janelt finally levelled things up from close in. KLP’s flick on timed to perfection despite the brief wait for a VAR check which, given how things played out all afternoon, had an almost inevitable feel to it. Thankfully, there was to be no repeat of last week at Fulham.

Brentford could / should (delete as you see fit) have been cleverer. We definitely had the chances and had any one of them gone in it might have been a different story. That’s not how football works though, as we all know well. Balls in the back of the net are what count – not that a team ‘deserved to win’. Everton may well be happy with a point. Brentford will likely feel frustrated, even if Thomas Frank would afterwards talk about his pride at how we played in the circumstances. In the end, the difference between the two sides came down to Thomas once again making great use of his five substitutes. 

Regardless of their role in the goal, surely with Keane Lewis-Potter and Vitaly Janelt both upping the ante from the bench they will be screaming out for a start against Crystal Palace in a few days time. Pontus Jansson will, also, hopefully return after missing out on this one. Otherwise, I’d expect / hope for a back five with maybe Kris Ajer or Mads Roerslev making up the numbers. Palace sure to offer much more going forward than Everton did.

Personally speaking, I think Brentford should still be pleased with a point. I say that on the basis of us keeping pace with the teams in the top few places whilst, also, back in the day it would have been a game we ‘d have lost. Huff. Puff. Desperately unlucky, coming oh so close but unable to breakdown dogged determination.  As Mrs B said, “Sometimes the gods just aren’t on your side”. A point is a point and we’ll enjoy that. Until then, here’s to Tuesday night and Crystal Palace.

The footballing gods have forsaken Wissa, based on this moment yesterday

The star man and top five player review is now up here. Enjoy.

All being well the watching Gareth Southgate did and has now seen sufficient to aid his next pick. Perhaps he wasn’t the only one…..

Nick Bruzon

Will it be more of the same on Saturday?

26 Aug

Saturday afternoon’s visit from Everton approaches at speed. Thank goodness. It only seems like five minutes ago Brentford were edged out at Fulham by the host’s late, late winner. It was a game that swung back and forth more often than the Drayton Manor Pirate Ship ride but, in the end, The Bees ended up victims to our own slow start. That was then. This is now. In between we’ve progressed to the third round of the League Cup at Colchester United and have been rewarded with the tantalising prospect of a visit from Gillingham. A tie that offers up a chance of progression / potato skin (delete as a you see fit), a further opportunity to stretch the squad and an extra bit of work for the team behind the Matchday programme. Enjoy. For now, though, it’s all about the battle between the former Burnley centre backs.  

The other way, Mads…. Move along. Nothing to see here in the FA Cup

Last season saw The Bees loving Premier League life with The Toffees beaten twice (we won’t talk about the FA Cup debacle). 1-0 at home and then 3-2 at Goodison Park. The first game was as turgid as the reverse fixture exciting. Richarlison doing what he does. Likewise Rico Henry. Amongst others. Everton ending it with 9 men and still deep in the relegation mire with only two games to go. In the end, they survived  – despite being humped 5-1 at Arsenal in the final game. Midweek victory over Crystal Palace, combined with Burnley tripping up and our own huge, huge disappointment in letting Leeds United off the hook mean we get the chance to do it all again.

With the season three games old, it would be fair to say Brentford and Everton have had contrasting starts. The Bees squad has only got stronger with Aaron Hickey and Ben Mee settling straight in. Keane Lewis-Potter impressed at Fulham and Colchester although is an injury doubt. Then there’s Mikkel Damsgaard who made a first start in the same game and could well now make an appearance at Lionel Road. 

For Everton, the sale of Richarlison must have been the most inevitable but gut-wrenching moment of the summer. Ben Godfrey then suffered serious injury in the opening day to defeat to Chelsea whilst the same club are now though to be in the box seat to sign Anthony Gordon ahead of Thursday evening’s transfer window slamming shut(tm).

On pitch, Brentford have twice had the ‘game of two halves’ on the road. Going 2-0 down at Leicester City in the season opener would eventually end in us ‘only’ managing a 2-2 draw. It could have been all three points. The same happened at Fulham where despite their early brace, The Cottagers were eventually pegged back before Aleksander Mitrovic did that thing in the 90th. 

It was so good, for so long

In between, there was the game at home to Manchester United. There are no more words needed about what happened in that one. The net result (aside from our three points) being Monday evening’s TV game between United and Liverpool saw The Bees name checked virtually every minute. Woebtide anybody playing the ‘Brentford’ drinking game. Two fingers per mention? I’d have been under the table by the time Jason Sancho scored their first goal. Contrast that to the weekend prior when he’d been robbed by MOTM Mathias Jensen to set up that quite incredible fourth goal in the 34th minute.

Everton, meanwhile, lost the aforementioned visit from Chelsea and then achieved the same ‘nil points’ at Aston Villa. An 88th minute point was earned at home to Nottingham Forest last week but it is a campaign which would seem to have picked up where last season’s left off. Manager Frank Lampard, as well known for being the  former boss of Frank Lampard’s Derby County, must be wondering when his luck will change. 

Football is never that simple of course. Those thinking this is a case of ‘home banker’ need to look again. If nothing else, there’s that little bit of Brazilian magic lurking in the Everton squad that can be summed up in one word: Allan. They’ve also got another name we are all well, well familiar with. Number 26. The battle of the former Burnley centre backs will likely see him and Ben Mee share the same pitch for the first time since the Clarets played their part in keeping Everton up. Burnley’s relegation being to both our clubs’s benefit with out of contract players electing to stay in The Premier League. For now. 

Number 26

Which is what may well play to our advantage. Think Kurt Zouma when West Ham visited last season. Think Christian Eriksen for the Manchester United game. Harlee Dean with Birmingham City. His comments, of course, inspiring us to play ten times better. Certain players and situations engender certain responses. Let’s not even go down the Martin Rowlands wormhole.

I can only imagine the reception 26 will get every time he goes near the ball. The memory of his refusal to play against a Burnley team whom he would move to shortly after is one that lives on. Football fans are like elephants in that respect. Never forget. Moreso given the subsequent explanation – one to rank along side a dog eating the homework or Bristol City and the closed covid lab.

I’m sure the narrative will be that crowd reaction is part of the game. Players are well used to it and blank these things out. That we should be better than resorting to such an approach from the stands. Bollocks to all of it. He’s an opposition player and once that whistle goes, all bets are off. The crowd do what the crowd do. And they do it bloody well. Look at Zouma backing off (although that was also quite a large part Norgaard !!) . Look at Eriksen dithering in the first two goals (although  that was also quite a large pard David de Gea). Look at Harlee Dean – that one was all him as his team were blown apart.

That Kurt Zouma thing – my suggestion for programme cover was politely declined

So come Saturday afternoon, we’ll absolutely be playing for all three points and doing whatever we have to do. Brentford are a win off second place in the nascent table. The thought of getting back in to the Champions League places is a tantalising one. For that, I do feel for the Everton team and their fans  – of whom I know many. Some. Well two.

They generally seem like a decent bunch who love their club as passionately as we do ours. A club that, like ours, is made up with supporters from the heart of the community rather than the heart of a travel agency. Cripes, I still can’t get over how deadly, deadly dull the atmosphere at Anfield was last season.  See also: Old Trafford (limp protest) and Stamford Bridge (fire drill in a library). At least Goodison Park was rocking.

Everton fans – including DJ Andy Bush – are always top value

Still, that’s been and gone. For now there’s only one topic under discussion. Can Brentford beat Everton? Bring on Saturday afternoon when we find out. I can’t wait. See you there.

Until then, if you want to read more the post-match debrief and top five player review for the Fulham game can be found here. If nothing else, I could really do with the hits so please do take a look. Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon