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Where do you go from last weekend?

9 Apr

Even a week on, it’s impossible not to still be smiling if you are a Brentford fan. The 4-1 humping administered to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (even Real Madrid only got a 3-1 there a few days later) up  with the very best we’ve ever witnessed our Bees on the road. Think how incredible it was seeing Yoanne Wissa grab that late, late winner at West Ham earlier in the season then multiply the feel-good factor by a zillion. The same player doing the same thing at Stamford Bridge, although of course, but that point the game was well out of sight. Chelsea supporters had already performed an exemplary fire drill routine at the far end and this time the goal was the cherry on the icing on the cake.  An afternoon that will live long in the memory and now one that gives the chance to step on with Sunday’s visit from West Ham.

Players celebrating with the fans as the goals fly in

Brentford will be chomping at the bit to get back out there. To pick up where we left off at Chelsea. A week to recover from the huge shift put in sees the same matchday squad available. Josh Dasilva still misses out although, incredible though it sounds to say this, even fit he’d have been doing well to force his way in – such was the performance last weekend. Instead, the main decision Thomas Frank has to make will be whether to tick with the 3 centre backs or revert to the traditional back four employed in the defeats of Norwich City and Burnley. 

Nobody saw it coming at Carrow Road ; even when the team was announced. People expected more of the same at Stamford Bridge. Including yours truly. Instead, switching back to our more defensive set up actually resulted in one of our most devastating performances of the campaign. Brentford very much pushing up with Christian Eriksen dominant. Everything will, one again, go through him when we step out against West Ham. He’s just too good not to. That’s not to diminish the performance of anyone else with Brentford showing just how good we can be when everybody is on their game. When the balance is right. When you play with confidence. When the crowd are behind you. The reverential hush of Stamford Bridge shattered by the non-stop roar from the Bees’ faithful. What a huge difference it made.

Christian Eriksen – the superlatives are fast running out

 I’ve given up trying to outthink or predict what Thomas Frank will do. For all the snide comments about our head coach and our squad, we’re doing phenomenally. We’re pulling the results out of the bag. The Norwich, Burnley and Chelsea games have seen 9 goals and nine points.

The only recent blip being Leicester City away. Even that could, perhaps should, have been different but if nothing else, the absence of that man Eriksen showing just how important he is to us. Enjoy him while you can and keep everything crossed we’re somehow able to talk him in to staying for another season.

The Bees can feel hard done by at Leicester City

As for West Ham, they’re likely to be in as fine spirits as ourselves. Thursday night saw a 1-1 draw with Lyon in the Europa League quarter-finals. The chance of reaching the last four still very real, although David Moyes is playing the ‘league places’ card and (outwardly) very much fighting on two fronts. Will he freshen up with the fringe players or go for broke? All but two of his starting XI lasted the full 90 minutes against Lyon and with much of the game played with 10 men (Aaron Cresswell seeing red just before half-time) will changes come? Will the focus be on what is a very realistic chance of lifting a European trophy?

One has to hope so. If for no other reason it’ll give them the chance to move on from 1966 or winning the FA Cup in 1980. Trevor Brooking’s header now 42 years on although you’d be forgiven for thinking it was yesterday.

Whomever David Moyes goes with, Said Benrahma will be keen to impress. There was no doubting the love for him from Brentford fans in his time with us. Thanks to Covid we never got to say a proper goodbye whilst the game at the Olympic stadium saw his threat nullified. He’ll likely start this one, too. If for no other reason than being the one to make way at half-time as David Moyes rejigged his side to cope with their self-inflicted on pitch deficit. As ever, the solution will be in taking the game to our opponents and cutting out the playmaker. In keeping the ball, breaking at pace and pinging it around with precision. Rico, Bryan and Christian (Eriksen) will be key to this. 

What a swansong from Said.

Sunday is going to be huge. For both teams. Brentford can still make the top ten of the Premier League. Every win and point will be vital. West Ham will have even loftier ambitions, sitting just three points behind fourth placed Tottenham as it stands. It’s frustrating to have had the game pushed back a day but that’s always the risk as we hit the business end of the season. Instead, today can be spend watching the next stage of the relegation battle. If nothing else, the midweek review of those teams facing the drop (and calling the final three) has very much upset Leeds United fans. Barely anyone else took the bait although I still stand by that call. Everton  – Manchester United this lunchtime is going to be fascinating.

There may be more games moved, in theory. Brentford official shared the below update following the Chelsea – Real Madrid game. So the game with Tottenham will be played on Saturday 23rd April, then.

Until then, the ‘top five’ player review from the Chelsea game is online and up.  Talk about tough decisions to be made – of the best sort.

Sadly, 11 into 5 just won’t go. No matter how much you try to crunch the numbers.

As a final thought, I may be biased but the cover for tomorrow’s matchday programme is just stunning. Top, top work from Dave Flanagan. Very much a work of art and poster quality stuff. May well have to get one of these framed up. 

Top cover art from Dave

For what its worth, I think it’s his best of the season to date. Hats off all round for the team that put this one together. As much for the decision not to go with a cat motif. Kurt Zouma, we’re looking at you. Meow. 

I can’t wait for this one. The sun is out and the place is buzzing. Bring it on and see you there.

I’d have gone for the cat cover

Nick Bruzon

Post-match debrief. Player review as Brentford rout Chelsea in battle of Stamford Bridge.

5 Apr

Is there anything else can be said off the back of Brentford trashing Chelsea 4-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday ? Well, yes. As Thomas Frank and his side now get ready for the weekend’s visit of 1980 FA Cup winner’s West Ham, we look back at the game just gone. 

What an afternoon at Stamford Bridge

As ever at this point, time to see who was the Brentford star man. Who made the top five against Chelsea? Can we whittle it down from a choice of 11? Does Josh Dasilva have any hope of breaking into the starting XI against 1966 World Cup winners West Ham on Sunday? Who is leading the hunt for our overall top-rated (on a game by game basis) player of 2021-22.

The answers can be found in the Gameweek 31 review, which can be found here….

Nick Bruzon

Limbs? It was like an explosion in a doll’s factory.

3 Apr

Sometimes there just aren’t sufficient words. Football of the highest order. An afternoon of the most incredible passion. Brentford putting in one of our best ever performances on the road as Chelsea were ripped a new one at Stamford Bridge. The 4-1 scoreline truly deserved as the Bees turned on the style in a manner not seen since, perhaps, Fulham away (the Stuart Dallas game) in our first Championship season. This was next level, though. Champions of Europe? You’re having a laugh ! Third in the Premier league and blown away as easily as an empty crisp packet caught on the breeze. Brentford were ruthless. Dominant. Outstanding. Ballsy. Devastating. Chelsea made to look second class citizens. Real Madrid now, surely, about to face the most enormous backlash when they visit the Bridge on Wednesday. That’s their problem though. This is all about the Bees. This is all about another chapter being written in the story that keeps on giving. What a way to warm up for West Ham next week.

Celebrations for the first goal (of our four. That’s four)

We’d come into this one with a ‘nothing to lose’ approach. Christian Eriksen was back after missing out at Leicester City through Covid and his stock was high after the most wonderful return to international action during the two week break. Yet even a devil may care attitude or the inclusion of a player who is up there with the best in the world, couldn’t prepare us for what came next. For the scenes in the crowd. For the noise that not so much drowned out Chelseas as silenced them (36 minutes on the clock before we heard our first decent noise from our hosts). For the performance of a Brentford side who, after going in 0-0 at half time, came back out to score more times in 45 minutes at the Bridge than even David Mellor might have achieved in his most hedonistic days (don’t visualise it, don’t visualise it).

With Brentford reverting to the three centre backs that had seen us so cautious on the road previously, any thought that we’d come to suck it up was quickly dispelled. Brentford taking the game to the opposition. Eriksen pinging it around. Bryan, Rico and Mads Roerslev slicing through the channels. The Bees on top and, err, pushing up. 0-0 at half-time giving confidence that we could perhaps snatch something. What came next is up there with the most crazy scenes and the incredible results we’ve ever borne witness to. Limbs? It was like an explosion in a doll factory.

Ironically, it was Chelsea who scored first. As at Arsenal, just minutes into the second half and the score turned from 0-0 to our hosts taking the lead. Unlike at Arsenal, this was a flash in the pan. Granted, a moment of brilliance but one that was a bolt from the blue rather than the eventual culmination of pressure, pressure, pressure. Antonio Rüdiger’s shot from distance moving through the air, clipping the inside of the post and finding the back of the net. David Raya close but unable to keep it out. The ball leathered in from over thirty yards out and a wonderful strike. Hats off Chelsea. Yet anyone thinking this was now a done deal was bout to be rudely awoken.

Within seconds , Vitaly Janelt had levelled it up. Bryan Mbeumo teeing up as he took two defenders out of the game and the German fired home form just inside the box. Bees fans erupted. An outpouring of equal parts disbelief and joy. What a moment ! Yet here was better to come. Two minutes later and Christian Eriksen had given us the lead. Again, Mbeumo the architect. His run up field on the counter attack culminating with a beautifully placed ball to Christian Eriksen. The Dane carving a hole deep into the Chelsea defence and making no mistake with his first time effort. Oh, the smile from the player . The clenched fist. The outpouring of love from the stands. The players again celebrating in the corner in front our the travelling faithful. It was dreamland for Brentford, and there was more to come.

That’s the lead!

Within the hour, it was 3-1 Brentford. Again, Vitaly Janelt. Again, Bryan with a hand. Again. Freeing up Ivan for a quite delicious pass. Though the eye of a needle. Three defenders taken out in one touch and Janelt lofting it over Mendy from the corner of the six yard box. The crowd going bonkers.

This was madness. In the best sense. Another celebration from the players in the same corner. Their broad grins and screams of joy telling you everything about what this meant. About our team spirit. About the sheer incredulity of the situation. What a moment. 60 minutes gone. Brentford now leading Chelsea by 2 goals. Clear air and the gap growing ever bigger.

There’s the third goal

There was more to come. Much more. A disallowed goal for Chelsea. The correct call, btw. Another chance down the far end that should have been buried. The home fans then pouring out en-masse. Their supporters leaving The Bridge as quickly as the points. The home end looking as though the previously imposed sanctions had been reintroduced . There were more empty seats than a studio recording of Mrs. Browns Boys. Was this why they had played ‘The Liquidator’ as the team first took the field of play? 

Yet if the Chelsea fans had given up, the opposite was true for Brentford. The team being roared on at ear shredding volume. Wissa coming off the bench and, with his first touch, doing to Chelsea what he had done to West Ham earlier in the season. A late goal – albeit this time the cherry on the icing on the cake rather than the decisive strike. The result was the same. Brentford fans all over the place and the trademark celebration, arms aloft in that W pose. 4-1 Brentford. Moments left. This time it really was game over. This time, it was history being made. No crumbling to the reputation beforehand. No concession to their galaxy of stars or the Champions League winners’ badge that adorned the blue jerseys. Just sheer, unadulterated guts and joy.

And that’s four…

The celebrations continuing long after full time. Nobody going anywhere. Players and staff celebrating with the fans. Savouring the moment. Peter Gilham in the front row of the upper tier showing just why this was the perfect birthday present. He’s seen it all but surely nothing like this in his 75 years. Walking out afterwards, catching up with friends  we’d missed in the stadium.. The reaction – universal. An almost numb feeling of joyous disbelief. That three pint buzz followed by a lot more, for real. Tim Lovejoy. Tim Lovejoy. Tim Lovejoy. Your boys took one hell of a beating. And it was magnificent.

There’s more to come on this. If nothing else, trying to pick the ‘top five’ for our post match player review. For now, though, let’s just bask in what was one of the single best ever Brentford performances. A proper ‘I was there’ moment.

Sunday morning and I’m still smiling. Match Of The Day just rewatched for the third time. This was special. Next level stuff. Now bring on West Ham…

Pontus shows what the fourth goals mean

Nick Bruzon

Brentford have nothing to lose and everything to gain at Chelsea.

2 Apr

Another international break is done and dusted. Brentford are back in action with the visit to Chelsea this Saturday afternoon. This, the first of four London derbies that take place over April with the trip to Stamford Bridge followed by West Ham (h), Watford (a) and then the month being completed with the televised visit from Spurs. Having gone down 2-1 at Leicester City last time out, it’s probably fair to say that an improbable last tilt at the European places is now off the table but top ten is still feasible. Just 6 points separate us and a Foxes team currently straddling the meridian line that separates top from bottom in the Premier League. 

It was good to clear the head over the last two weeks. There has still been a feast of football to enjoy. And the England games, too, where Harry Maguire became the target of the domestic boo boys because, well go figure. Football, eh? Sorry, sorry. Supporters pay for their tickets so their own players are fair game. Apparently. On a more positive note, there was a debut for David Raya when Spain beat Albania whilst Christian Eriksen made all the headlines with not one but two goals in his two games for Denmark.

Just about everything he does puts a huge smile on the face. I still can’t believe he’s playing for Brentford and his goals during the break were of the highest quality. Game by game he’s looking better and better. The West London derby will be all the better for his return to the side after missing out at Leicester with Covid. Who knows what might have been had he been available for that one.

Instead, he gets the chance to face a Chelsea side who may have half an eye on the midweek Champions League quarter-final with Real Madrid. If nothing else, how often do these three teams get mentioned in the same paragraph in genuine context? Times are changing  – and for the better.

Whilst Eriksen was the main talking point our other Christian, Norgaard, was there with the assist for the goal against the Netherlands whilst Mathias Jensen also made it on the pitch – meaning at one point Denmark had that triple Brentford midfield. With Josh Dasilva back from his red card suspension but now suffering from a hamstring injury, expect the same again at some point today – albeit Vitaly Janelt likely to start over our number 8.

As for David Raya, what a moment in Spain. A first international appearance and something reflective of the wonderful form he has been in this season for Brentford. The only blot on the night being the equaliser his team conceded just prior to retaking the lead. Even that was one given a huge helping hand, or should that be face, by Myrto Uzuni. The goalscorer didn’t know much about an attempted clearance from Francisco Torres, who rather than guiding a hoofed long ball back to his ‘keeper, left Raya flat-footed after steering into the Albanian’s face and then past our man. Certainly one for the dubious goals committee but, regardless, surely the first of more to come for David.

Our artist (me) spent ceaseless minutes recreating this one – very much comic defence

His presence will be vital this afternoon. We all know how much he has been missed and how welcome his return has been since the FA Cup fourth round at Everton. Perhaps more important has been the formation shuffle that has seen us revet to a more traditional back four. Kris Ajer shunting to the right. Whether Thomas holds his nerve or reverts to type will be key. Personally speaking, I’d rather take the chance of sticking with what works. Playing the three CBs / two wing back combo at Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal saw the majority of the game spent on the back foot. Eventually, the pressure told and the goals (against) came. Whilst the trip to Highbury 2 almost saw what would have been a hilarious equaliser grabbed, the net result of all three has been nil points. 

Personally speaking, at this point in the season I’d rather we play confident and, at worst, go down fighting. The difference being we now have that man Eriksen to help drive us forward in a game where nobody outside of TW8 expects Brentford to come away with anything. It’s a free hit. Nothing to lose – everything to gain. The last thing on anybody’s agenda is one, or three, points for the Bees so why not just do what so well? Stick it to the opposition and rely on Pontus, Ethan and David to lock it up at the back. What’s the worst that could happen?

It’ll be a fantastic atmosphere today. At least, from the away fans for whom we now have a full house once more. The sanctions imposed on Chelsea now adjusted to allow for ticket sales. Let’s hope that other nonsense we’ve all seen has no place. Kudos to Thomas Tuchel for his own comments on that.

More importantly, the game is on! At one point yesterday I looked out the window to see a blizzard. In April. At best an unexpected outing for the orange ball. At worst, a possible P-P. Yet the snowflakes vanished as quickly as they arrived and so we’re all systems go. I can’t wait for this one. I can’t wait for this month. See you there and bring it on !!

Until then, here’s The Leicester City catch up…

Pack those travel cards

Nick Bruzon

Time to start talking kit (and buying tickets).

24 Mar

We’re half way through the first week of international break. Another ten days until Brentford head to Chelsea for a league game in which there was good news for us Bees yesterday. The narrow defeat at Leicester City now put behind us. Fantasy football teams left gathering dust. No bad thing in the case of yours truly, whose attempt to jinx Leeds United on Friday backfired terribly. Three players selected yet rather than this seeing them fall apart (again), they mounted that stonking rearguard action at Wolves to turn 2-0 down into an eventual 3-2 victory. At the same time, rather than the consolation of a plethora of points that should go with an on pitch win, the net result was a measly three. Three. Points. I give up. That long time aspiration to be a football manager one best consigned to the waste bin of history.

Bruzon’s falling apart. Again.

Anyway, aside from Leeds United and the Foxes putting a dent into the weekend (as ever, you can catch our take on the Brentford ‘top five’ from Leicester City here), there’s been another dalliance or two into the world of football fantasy. Namely, kit design. We shared some of them on these pages in the last few days but, along with some other efforts where we’ve messed around in Photoshop (see – it can be used for more than just venting the spleen about Mrs. Brown’s Boys) why not stick them all up in the same place?

If nothing else, we’re getting close to that time of the season where talk turns to what we’ll be running out in next season. Expect clubs to start dropping their 2022-23 efforts over the coming weeks and, whilst we’ve traditionally left things late, we already know that our home shirt will remain the current home shirt. Huge thanks from from the Bruzon family piggy bank on that decision to roll over this season’s design.

The flip side to this equation being we’re guaranteed a new away and third kit. Jon Varney has already confirmed that, “We hope the new away shirt design will excite our fans who remember the 80’s and early 90’s, whilst the new third shirt is designed very much for the future!

What does all this mean, though? The obvious guess would be a return for either the Hummel fractals or more blue on blue for our change colours. Possibly even the one season wonder that was the Funky Bee centenary crest. Go on Bob, I dare you…

Could the 2022-23 be heading down one of these routes…

Or, of course, rather than colours it could be a reference to our much loved ‘castle badge’ which was everywhere in the 80-90s . Tapping into that retro vibe very much in evidence at the moment. A bit of castle action. A helping hand from one of my favourite (non Bees) Umbro kits of all time. A sash. My word, an actual sash on a Brentford shirt…

…. or perhaps adopting the Castle badge once more?

As for the ‘one for the future’, that’s as open to interpretation as you want.  Could we be going back down the trailblazing route? Specifically that adopted with the brown / orange? Whilst it is, without doubt, up there with our best ever change strips in years, it’s fair to say that one split opinion. Incredibly, some people didn’t like it – I know, I know – so would take a huge leap of faith to retread that path. Then again, combine those colours with some yellow and our much repeated ‘Bus stop in Hounslow’ tag for the obvious solution. One we’ve talked about before and would take balls of marketing steel to adopt. Albeit, just imagine…..

Just for the meltdown…..

Then there’s our favourite yellow and black combo. The one unveiled in the window of a Bathroom shop (c/o our then sponsors, Bathwise) . Albeit remixed into more of a Bee motif.

Or something more simple but (and with apologies for shoddy photoshoppery) showing colours appropriate for what’s going on in the wider world at the moment.

It’s all complete guesswork and, with no inside knowledge, nothing more than a bit of fun. The point being that talk will soon be starting. The guesses will begin. The reveal will be dropped on us.

We’ve had it all over the years. Fans involved. A youth team member leaking the picture. The week long strip tease inflicted upon us by (now Leyton Orient) chief executive Mark Devlin. The only ask this time around being that whatever it is, please make it quick and make it soon. And Bob, if you are reading – I’m available….

How not to ‘launch’ an away kit. Curse that leak

Until then, which of these would you pick ?

Theo other, actual, news from yesterday was the news that Chelsea tickets are back on sale. With the terms of their sanctioning tweaked, Brentford fans with over 2,000 TAPS will be able to get these from today on a first come, first served basis. 1,600 were already sold before the shutters came down which, by my rudimentary calculations, means we have another 1,400 to go. Don’t @ me if that maths is wrong. Just move quick smart if you want in. Full details here, on Brentford ‘official’.

Until then, you can have a vote on the kit or catch up on that Leicester City piece.

Nick Bruzon

He’s behind you. Time for some payback?

20 Mar

It’s been an odd weekend so far. With Brentford not in action until this afternoon given our trip to Leicester City has been put back by their own European jaunt (its currently 6.30am and the sun is rising over West London. That beautiful moment of Sunday morning calm before our H gets up to check his Fantasy Football scores prior to binge watching Pokemon – something he has recently discovered and which appears to be the animated equivalent of Mrs. Browns boys in its sheer repetitiveness of the same ‘plot’ every episode. Also, there are no jokes in it.) we’ve been enjoying the other games. There was the Premier League clash between Wolves and Leeds United on Friday night and then Middlesbrough – Chelsea in the FA Cup yesterday.   

First up, Brentford. Last time out we wrote about Leicester City and kit. About what happened when the Foxes came to Lionel Road. That’s here if you need another reminder of that one. Applications to the James Maddison fan club can be completed by sending a 45p postal order and s.a.e. to the following address… and don’t forget to mark your envelope with the word ‘buffoon’ in the top corner. Hey, its a family publication. Generally.

Let’s hope for less of a pantomime this time around

You can’t blame Leicester. We’d have been ecstatic had that been us. See: West Ham (a) . See Wolves (a). Playing the opposition like fiddles. Taking the moment when it arose and then milking it to death. Doesn’t make it any easer when you are on the receiving end though and so, all being well, the team (and the supporters) have stored this away. A reminder ready to be delivered. Football fans don’t forget. See also: Harlee Dean. Just because we can.

Yet despite the backdrop it’s a chance for Brentford to record a third successive win in the Premier League. For Ivan Toney to build on his record of five goals in the last two games and show Gareth Southgate what he has missed out on. For Christian Eriksen to wow us, yet again. My word he’s a special player. Subject to injuries the team will pick itself once more. The change in formation very much suiting our game play. The dogged determination against Burnley last weekend keeping us going until the 90th minute, and beyond, to wrap up the points. It’s going to be a good one today and I can’t wait. Victory, should it happen by sufficient goal difference, could see us end the day in twelfth place. Talk about an incentive to go for it.

Until then, we can reflect upon what has happened so far. Friday night at Molineux was bizarre. Wolves raced in to a two goal half-time lead as Leeds United fell apart. Again. No surprises there. Then, the impossible happened. Not one, not two but three goals from the visitors. The late, late winner mirroring Everton the night before. Albeit without the cable ties. 

Credit to Leeds United for their guts and fighting spirit. Much as it pains me to admit it. Surely, now, they’re safe from the drop. For a moment it looked like the season might be heading for the perfect denouement. Brentford safe. Leeds down. Game 38, between our respective teams at Lionel Road, the cherry on the cake. Then they started to win. Again. As The BeeGees almost once sang. That said, they’re still below us in the table. If ever there was any further motivation needed to get three points this afternoon then here it is. 

Leeds finally flexed their muscles on Friday

Then yesterday, we had the FA Cup tie. If grudging respect is being paid to Leeds then wheel it out by the bucketload for Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson. There was absolutely no mincing of words ahead of his club’s home quarter-final with Chelsea. The Blues’ request that is be played behind closed doors for reasons of ‘sporting integrity’ (given their own sanction based inability to sell tickets) was met with understandable short thrift. That’s the polite term.

Gibson telling them to f8%k the f87k off and when they’re done, f78k off some more. Or, as he put it, only slightly more diplomatically…….

“Chelsea and sporting integrity do not belong in the same sentence……Where is the intellect of Bruce Buck, the chairman of Chelsea, who has been an apologist for his owner, where the trophies won over 19 years have come from the corrupt money provided by Abramovich.” 

Well said that man. The sheer brass neck of the Stamford Bridge outfit stretching the incredulity of even the most dispassionate fans outside their little corner of South-West London. Just p8ss off, the almost universal thought that had sprung to mind when that request was made, before being later withdrawn.

Sadly, with millions of casual observers willing Middlesbrough on, there was to be no fairytale ending. No sense of justice done. Chelsea did what Chelsea do and made their 2-0 progression to the semi-finals look as comfortable as a squad that strong would. We’ve got them next up, after Leicester. In person, too. Assuming those tickets already sold remain valid…

The only other thought for today. Kit. Whilst I’m sure next season’s are already long since picked and in production, another though has crossed the mind. Writing in the programme this season about opposition colours we had the chance to feature one of the all time greatest. Namely, the Manchester City third shirt produced by Umbro for 2009-10. Given we’re stable mates – at least in terms of manufacturer – could we do something similar? 

Regular readers to these pages will know of my own kit nerdery. And so with, seemingly, nothing to write about Brentford yesterday (David Raya being called up for Spain what now?) there was time for a few minutes tinkering on photoshop. To produce this…

Concept kit art – with the deselect black/white filter in full effect today

Thoughts? Kitman Bob? Anyone? Well I like it so that’s that.

That’s it. Our Harry is stirring. It’s only minutes until another foray into the copy/paste world of Pokemon and Team Rocket falling apart like Leeds United. Again. Best get set for Leicester….

Just once Team Rocket. Once….

Nick Bruzon 

Who’s falling apart (again)? Is Chelsea off?

11 Mar

Questions. Questions. Questions. For a day where Brentford fans had to sit on the sidelines and wait the chance to follow up our defeat of Norwich with Saturday’s visit from Burnley, there was plenty going on. All the talk on social media was around Chelsea. With Roman Abramovich finally sanctioned (and his UK assets frozen) the club are able to continue playing but will not be allowed to sell any more tickets – amongst other special conditions. The other news of interest was Leeds falling apart. Again. New manager. Same result. A 3-0 home defeat to Aston Villa puts the Elland Road club even closer to those bottom three places.  

Norwich, last Saturday.

First up, Chelsea. Its all a bit of a mystery what it means for Brentford fans. With the Bees due to visit Stamford Bridge in just a few weeks (April 2nd), ticket sales have gone on hold whilst clarity is sought from the Premier League as to what we can / can’t do. The statement out of ‘official’ was understandably nondescript, given as nobody has a clue. All sorts of theories are doing the rounds, ranging from full refunds for those who got tickets in the first tranche though those same individuals being allowed to attend as part of one of the final away contingents in the foreseeable. There was even, somewhat unlikely, talk of tickets being made available for free/ charity. One things for sure, regular sales are now stopped with immediate effect. 

The reaction from Blues’ fans was the usual polarising of opinion that is social media. Full support for the move versus full on rage about supporters being punished. Other being abused for daring to support what is now happening. For me, Clive, its the absolute right thing to do. Cripes – look out your window. Get your head out of your arse. Turn on the TV. The defence that ‘Abramovich isn’t making any money’ from Chelsea clearly ignoring the fact that he’d make dumper trucks full if choosing to sell off some / all of his assets. Regardless of your feelings about him as an individual, he has been targeted for a specific reason. His links to that maggot penised dickhead running the show in Russia. 

I’m no expert, but somebody really seems to be over-compensating

That’s it. End of. If it means we get our matchday experience pulled then boo-hoo. Of course I’d rather see Brentford play in person but should that fail to transpire then we’ll have to miss out in the context of the bigger picture. Besides, given Season Ticket holders are still able to attend Chelsea will retain a largely full house. Just less tourists and potentially no away support. All transfer activity has been suspended , their travel budget has been slashed and they might find themselves waking up next to Lenny Henry on overnight trips but they can still play. For now.

Shirt sponsors Three mobile have also asked for their brand to be removed from the shirt although that didn’t seem to happen in time for last night’s defeat of Norwich City.  More will, no doubt, become clear in the coming days.

As one observer looked to summarise it: They are stuck with Lukaku, but only season ticket holders will be booing him now.

Parking the bus may take on a new meaning for Chelsea

Elsewhere, Leeds United fell apart. Again. New manger Jesse Marsch followed up Saturday’s loss at Leicester City with a 3-0 home humping at the hands of Aston Villa. That’s six defeats in a row with 21 goals conceded over that period and only two scored. Those in the 2-4 reverse at home to Manchester United. All of a sudden, Saturday’s visit from Norwich City has the feel of a real relegation six-pointer with Marsch calling it a “version of a final”. This, something barely anybody would have considered at the start of the campaign but all of a sudden a very real prospect. With Watford also getting thumped last night (4-0 at Wolves), the two clubs in the bottom relegation slots are looking a long way from safety. Points in the bag very much better than games in hand, as we’ve been saying all season.

The big question being who is third favourite for the drop? Burnley currently have the box seat. Leeds and Everton have the anti-form. Of course, Brentford welcome Sean Dyche’s team this weekend. Our own victory over Norwich on Saturday left supporters in fine fettle. As much due to getting a win under the belt as the performances of Ivan Toney and, of course, Christian Eriksen. The Dane was simply magnificent. Ivan, ice cold with his finishing. Nerves of steel with his hat-trick put away in some style. 

Whilst I’m acutely aware that a win for Brentford will help Leeds out of their own predicament, it has to be all out for another three points to the Bees. Burnley have already confirmed they’ll be missing captain Ben Mee, meaning number 26 will be under more pressure. For Brentford, the team names itself unless there are any unexpected injuries. Whilst we have now lost the element of surprise, formation wise, that was so wonderful at Carrow Road the way that team played means more of the same has to be the only way forward. The difference that a switch to 4-3-3 made was evident to anyone who has been watching this team for more than three seconds. Sweeping attack. Playing on the front food. Laser-pointed delivery from Eriksen. It was a thing of beauty and now we get to show it off at home.

The world is a horrible place at the moment. Last weekend gave some much needed breathing space from the pressure. A chance to switch off from it all for a few hours and just enjoy football. Here’s to more of the same on Saturday.

Bring it on and see you there.

Norwich was a great chance to switch off and enjoy football for football’s sake

Nick Bruzon

Chelsea play their cards right as Brentford are undone by Kanté’s class.

23 Dec

Brentford fans could be forgiven for having that flat feeling this morning. Chelsea supporters the ones waking up with a semi in the pocket. A 2-0 defeat at Lionel Road means the Bees’ League cup progress stops in the quarter-finals. Chelsea join Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal in the last four. Yet for Thomas Frank and Brentford, it was a useful runout and one that could well have had a different ending. At least, until N’Golo Kanté came off the bench with just under fifteen minutes to go. Thomas Tuchel playing his substitution cards oh so right as he slowly cranked up the second half pressure. The arrival of Kanté being the defining moment which transformed the game from evenly balanced contest to one way traffic. The World Cup winner showing his absolute class and importance to a club that may have started the game with a relatively unfamiliar line up but ended it in a much more recognisable style – both in terms of players and performance.

Brentford had no answer to Chelsea’s Tuchel bonus

For Brentford, the team was as familiar as one could have expected given Thomas Frank’s prematch assertions about ‘going for it’. Starts for Mads Bech and Wissa aside (albeit Ivan Toney, now recovered from his positive covid test results, would come off the bench with half an hour to go) the rest of the team picked itself. Contrast that to Chelsea where names such as Vale, Simons and Soonsup-Bell, amongst others, had many of us from this part of West London scratching our heads as to just how deep and strong Thomas Tuchel was going. Yet what we got was more of the same. Chelsea dominating possession (if memory serves, they’d had 68% when the halftime stats flashed up) and Brentford having to work socks off.

Yet it was the Bees who had the better chances in that opening period.  Bryan and Rico working brilliantly down the left. Our left back in particular showing a continued turn of electrifying pace to cause mayhem down that flank. Vitaly strong again and Matthias Jensen getting stuck in. First Wissa and then Jensen were both denied by Kepa between the sticks for the visitors. It could, probably should, have been Brentford who went in a goal up but with the first half tapering off and the second continuing in equally even fashion, it began to take on the feel of looking to take the chance in a spot kick shoot out.

A plethora of changes for Brentford did nothing to significantly up the tempo but with our guests always one step ahead of us on the substitutions, you could see their quality cranking up with every change.  Jorginho and Christian Pulisic on as the second period began, followed by Reece James and Mason Mount. This was the Chelsea we recognised. This was the Chelsea now starting to open the door until , with 76 minutes gone, that man Kanté entered the field of play and booted it wide open. The step up one pace and the drive forward was a clear as day. His part in both goals there for all to see. 

First up, Pontus Jansson somehow slicing it past his own ‘keeper to hand the lead to our visitors with less than ten minutes to go. Urghh. Hearts sank. There was no blame attached or recrimination offered. It was one of those things but now there was little choice left but to go for it. Rather than running the clock down for spot kicks all we could do was go for one final throw of the dice. Instead, it was Chelsea who kept on pushing. Chelsea who scored again five minutes later. Kanté who once again opened us up, leading to Pulisic being felled in the box by Alvaro Fernandez. It felt soft at the time and whilst replays have yet to be seen, there were no real complaints. Jorginho despatching it with his trademark efficiency. There was no way back from there. For Brentford, a chance to focus on Brighton and Manchester City in the league. For Chelsea, the tournament remains alive with the draw now seeing them face Tottenham.

Hey, its a shame but there’s no bitterness. We gave it a shot but were ultimately undone by a master class in cup football and Thomas Tuchel’s strategy. By one man’s Christmas presence ultimately being that tipping point between two teams who had both felt as though they had half a foot in the semis prior to his arrival. Hats off to Kante. Well played Chelsea.

The only real negativity to talk about is around our forthcoming Covid tests. With three games coming up in close succession (Aston Villa joining the Seagulls and City to make up the trio of festive fixtures ) staying healthy is probably the best present we can get this Christmas. I’d love to have won this, of course, but as long as we can stay fit that’s probably just as important in the current climate. What an aspirational thought to end on. Groan.

Instead, let’s be glad we’re back. After two games were pulled in close succession its been a long wait for football. This may have felt like little more than a glorified friendly at times but who knows how important it might have been in simply allowing some ring rust to be worked through. Perhaps that’s the positive we need to draw from this. A decent run out against World Class level opposition. Champions of Europe, too. If only their fans had mentioned it.

Bus stop in Hounslow, you’ll never sing that. And that’s how we like it. Now bring on Brighton.

The GPG may be on to something

Nick Bruzon

Brentford – Chelsea about as intriguing as they come.

22 Dec

The league cup semi-finals will be an all Premier League affair. With the last remaining EFL club, Sunderland, eventually succumbing on Tuesday evening, the three teams who join Arsenal will be decided tonight. Of course, top of our priority list is the game at Lionel Road between Brentford and Chelsea. Nobody needs a reminder as to how the league fixture turned out – one of the most pulsating encounters we’ve ever had the good fortune to witness – although that’s here if you would like to read more. The game Ben Chilwell described as “Hell on Earth” returns for round two, although whether the personnel remain the same this time around remains to be seen. Elsewhere there’s Tottenham – West Ham and Liverpool – Leicester City to decide who continues on the journey to Wembley.

Hey, we can say it now. Wembley.

Norgaard unleashes hell

As ever, the spectre of Covid raises its head. It feels like an eternity since we last saw a game and the jury remains out on whether we’ll be able to attend in the New Year. Wales and Scotland have already announced moves to start playing behind closed doors for a few weeks. One can only suspect Boris will eventually dither his way into a position where he has no remaining option left but to follow them once he has ‘saved Christmas’. Groan. Cheese and wine, anyone?

On pitch, things face a similar uncertainty. The good news for Brentford fans is that Thomas Frank has confirmed we have no positive cases in the squad. As it stands. Meaning everyone barring the injured contingent is available for selection. Might this include Matthew Cox who was all set to be parachuted into goal against Manchester United until they had to pull the game earlier this month? One way or another it would have been a debut to remember for the untried 18 year old and, surely, his time will come.

The lack of recent game time alone suggests Thomas will go as full strength as possible. The glut of games usually experienced at the time of year has been trimmed by the pandemic and, if anything, we’ll now have the players chomping at the bit to get 90 minutes under the belt once more. Or, at least, start. Then, there’s his own approach where he has been quite vocal about emulating last season’s run all the way to a semifinal with VAR and Tottenham. 

Urghhh

He used his press conference for this one to explain how it is a competition we have targeted from the off.  “Really, we want to go all the way. It’s one game at a time and the next game is against the European winners…. It’s already a statement that we are in the quarter-finals. We’d never made the semi-finals until last year. Can we do that one more time? That would be a massive statement.”

The biggest clue to starting XI then being his assertion that, “I can say we’ll put a full team out there. I don’t know what Chelsea will do.

Ahh, what will Chelsea do? One has to feel for Thomas Tuchel, in that he now faces the same levels of uncertainty we did a few weeks ago. Injuries and Covid tests are already hampering his preparation with Sunday’s 0-0 at Wolves seeing them name a reduced bench. He has spoken about having to start from scratch in terms of his own prep for tonight whilst the casualty list seems a lengthy one.

First World problems, I suppose. The squad is one that contains an embarrassment of riches and they are, for good reason, both Champions of Europe and genuine contenders for the Premier League title this season. Whomever Tuchel chooses to start / has left will, I am sure, give anyone a run for their money. Likewise, with a home crowd and a strong tea for Brentford, this has all the makings of another classic

Being honest, it still feels a bit weird going to a game at present given what’s out there in the news and the problems being faced by just about every club in the country. Then again, as many safety measures as possible are in place (do arrive early given the extensive Covid checks we have been warned about) whilst it would be hypocritical to pretend there was anything but excitement about going to football again. About seeing if our team can follow up on last season. About seeing if we can go, perhaps, one better. 

Hey, now we’ve broken the jinx at the W place, anything is possible.   

See you there. Stay safe. Let’s enjoy it whilst we can.

If Boris does end up cancelling anything this Christmas, please let’s hope he gets it right

Nick Bruzon

It was hell on earth. Could the same happen again?

24 Oct

Sunday morning and another early start. The eSpresso has been drunk, last night’s washing up done and the cat fed whilst the rest of the family still sleep. Even the cat.  Hey, never let it be said that yours truly doesn’t lead a rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. Yet all of this mundane normality will explode out of the blocks in a few hours time. Brentford host Leicester City knowing that victory combined with a win for Liverpool could propel the Bees to fifth in the Premier League table (one of the teams having to get some combination of points in the Spurs – West Ham game makes fourth just out of sight). Having performed so well in recent weeks, moreso seeing how fellow promoted teams have fared against teams we’ve taken all the way (Chelsea hitting Norwich City for a 7(seven) goal bracketing yesterday), means we go in to this one with tails very much up.

A typical early morning in TW8

Bloody hell. The atmosphere, and performance, in the Chelsea game (Brentford rather Norwich) were like nothing else. Then again, we said the same after West Ham away and the 3-3 with Liverpool. Every time you think that things have got as good as they can, the team and the fans rewrite the form book. Last Saturday evening had just about everyone channeling their inner Dean Smith. We actually did deserve to win. It’s a real ‘break glass in case of emergency phase but for once, it rang so very true.

Of course, the record books will show we didn’t. Ben Chilwell’s goal separating the teams. True enough. Talking to friends and colleagues last week, all anyone outside TW8 could say was just how the heck had we been denied at least a point? The reaction was almost universal. Match of The Day showing the collection of wonderful saves, posts rattled and last gasp defending that kept us at bay. Kudos to Chelsea, btw. They did what they needed to and won the game. Yet seeing them dismantle Norwich City yesterday put it truly into context. Perhaps even more dramatically than Watford being obliterated by Liverpool the week after we were denied a famous victory over the Anfield side by nothing more than an offside flag.

It was a case of less Canaries and more headless chickens at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea with their pedal to the metal. Norwich, stuck in reverse and about as clueless as a Glenn Hoddle punditry masterclass. Just as at Lionel Road, the game started with the Champions of Europe pouring forward. Unlike the game at Lionel Road, the opposition crumbled and had no idea how to counter (or even contain) their opponents. The half-time assessment that with some substitutions Norwich might be able to play for the draw (they were 3-0 down at this juncture, having previously scored just 2 goals all campaign) was about as far fetched as it was just plain stupid. Instead, all we got was the aforementioned bracketing.

Let’s be clear. I’ve no particular love for Chelsea. Or any other club. At most, a lot of admiration for Norwich after they way they treated our Harry a few years back. Likewise, today’s opponents given the much needed shot of footballing romance they gave us all a few years back. If nothing else, the proof that the ‘elite’ don’t have it all their way.

Good times at Carrow Road. Pre kick-off

Ultimately though, in our house it’s all Brentford. At the same time, seeing how the three promoted teams have performed against the best in the land shows such a marked contrast as one can’t help but try to draw parallels. The respective results speak for themselves.  Watford 0 Liverpool 5 to Brentford 3 Liverpool 3.  Chelsea 7(seven) Norwich 0 to Brentford 0 Mendy Chelsea 1. Last season’s performance in the Championship counting for nothing now we’ve all stepped up. 

The one clear difference being that we were at home for both. My word, home. Talk about making that advantage count. Talk about not just raising the roof but ripping it off. The noise levels being generated have been stratospheric. Gargantuan. Like nothing we’ve ever experienced before. “It was hell on Earth, the last 20 minutes” being the considered verdict of Ben Chilwell last time out. 

Hell on earth at Lionel Road, last time out

We may not have the financial clout to match but we certainly have the passion. I’ve been in stadiums where we’ve played European Champions and missed out on promotion by play offs. And the atmosphere at Lionel Road is ten times better than that. It’s just about getting the balance right.

We had it at Griffin Park, of course. Who could forget the denouement to the 5-0 against Birmingham City or that afternoon against Preston North End? Then lockdown came, we were all stuck at home and denied football for the best part of an entire season, not to mention the end of the one before. Yet upon return its almost as if all the frustration of missing out has been bottled and the stopper now released. Seriously, being part of these crowds has been as much cathartic as anything else. Makes the missing out and the early morning washing up all that bit more bearable. Mostly, though, it plays a HUGE part in stifling our opponents and making Lionel Road a place to be feared. A genuine fortress. 

Leicester City are about as tough as opponents get. Just like Brentford, they’ll have the top quarter of the table in sight and, of course, have experienced their own huge morale boost. Namely that of coming from 2-0 down in Moscow to stride out as eventual 4-3 winners. Jamie Vardy spent the evening on the bench, with the Foxes four coming c/o of Patson Daka. Joy, another goal threat to contend with today and Kasper Schmeichel a man mountain at the other end. Having finally said farewell to one top class shot stopper in Edouard Mendy, we’re straight back up against another. Nobody sad it would be easy at this level !   

Foxes in Europe. Laboured wordplay and a half hour spent on photoshop yesterday so damn well going to use it again

Can I call it? No hope. All we can say is that if the Brentford faithful keep it as loud as we have done all season then we’ve every chance of lifting the boys onwards and upwards.

The bookies have the Bees as the outsiders, plus ça change, although at least we are deemed a little bit closer than in previous weeks. To be honest, it counts for naff all barring curiosity. All that matters is how we hit the ground at 2pm – on and off the pitch.

The bookies give Leicester the edge

Bring it on. See you there. If nothing else, there are Panini Cards to swap. Our Harry has a stack of doubles and is all set for the 1pm swap meet underneath the Family Section in the North West corner of the stadium. You can read about that on ‘official’.

Fingers crossed, the team can match his, and our, enthusiasm…..

Nick Bruzon