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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

Could he start tomorrow? Here’s hoping !

18 Feb

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

Going for more of the same agasint Arsenal this weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The former, coveted.

The later, well that’s their problem….

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

Nick Bruzon

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

15 Feb

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

A thing of beauty unfolds

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

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

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

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

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

David had an earlier than expected return

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

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

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

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

The prospect of seeing who Thomas has available.

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

It says Liberia, not Library…

Nick Bruzon    

Who were the crown jewels against Palace ?

13 Feb

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

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

Enjoy

Nick Bruzon

Caution. Positivity may offend.

13 Feb

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

The moment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The table doesn’t lie

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon    

Time to shed the L plates and get back to business

11 Feb

Brentford are back at home on Saturday for a clash with Crystal Palace where getting a point or three on the board is very much top of the priorities. Wednesday night’s 2-0 reverse at Manchester City felt like Liverpool away all over. Whilst a performance to give huge swathes of encouragement for the rest of the campaign, it still ended with another L being added to our current run of league form. At face value, our record is worse than The England Supporters Band World Cup singalong EP. Current results seeing the letter L becoming as unwelcome as one hanging around Mrs. Brown’s (of Boys infamy) neck on a hen night. Sounds and sights that nobody needs. The big question being how we get to reverse this blip before it moves form a statistical anomaly to an albatross?

Sights and sounds nobody needs

First things first, Manchester City away. The highlights of that one were covered off in the player review which you can find here. An already tough task was made inifinitely harder before the game had even started when it was revealed there would be no Ivan Toney, no Vitaly Janelt, no Bryan Mbeumo and no Yoanne Wissa. Striking options reduced to Sergi Canos and Saman Ghoddos.

We love Sergi in our house but if those two knew each other like the back of their hand then they must have been wearing gloves. Those rare opportunities where a break was made possible immediately snuffed out by a wayward pass or the offside flag.

The positive news being our performance in keeping our hosts at bay. Many had expected Manchester City to score at will but an ultra-disciplined performance at the back – where Kris Ajer and Rico Henry in particular were standout – saw the attacking threat nullified. The midfield, likewise. Something which made the manner of the two goals we did concede all the more frustrating.

Sergi spurning chances to release the ball in midfield, losing possession and Mads Roerslev giving away a clumsy penalty form the resultant ball forward. It was all a bit Laurel and Hardy yet so avoidable. From Sergi’s part, last season’s Norwich City away all over again. An infrequent but glaring howler. For Mads, perhaps a bit of inexperience and big game rabbit in the headlights but, again, he didn’t even get close to the ball and it was as clumsy as they come. David Raya with no chance from the spot kick. Much as the game in Liverpool, forty plus minutes of resolute defending undone with one lapse minutes before half-time.

If the first had been Liverpool away, the second was a carbon copy. Perhaps even tougher to swallow given we’d been playing our way back in to the game. Rico had almost equalised moments after the penalty and now the Bees were actually breaking forward. Putting City on the backfoot. Yoanne Wissa was all set to join the fray when more sloppiness, from the unlikeliest of sources. David Raya passing it out of defence and straight to Raheem Sterling. It was Alvaro Fernandez at Anfield all over again. One that we will, perhaps, be generous and chalk down to being out of action for all those months. If nothing else, his performance the rest of the game was as welcome and confidence inspiring as they come.

Let’s be clear, having David Raya back is a magnificent thing. No Brentford fan would deny that. Form started to wobble the moment he went away and, whilst it may take a game or so to reacquaint himself with the defence, long term our prospects are infinitely sounder. Likewise Josh Dasilva, who came off the bench for a pre-planned substitution. He was our star man against Everton and continues to show what we’ve been missing. Cautious reintegration to the team – it was a LONG injury break – will surely be the way here as fitness returns.

Then there’s Christian Eriksen. Is Crystal Palace too soon for him to have a run out? He’s been in training this week and says he’s in better shape than ever , albeit obviously lacking competitive minutes.

When might he step from training ground to first XI ?

However, with two goalkeepers being maned on the bench for Manchester City, I’m half expecting him, to be added to the substitutes for Palace. Even if there’s no chance of getting an actual run out. Just think of the boost it will give the crowd when his name is read out. When we see him warming up. Running down the touchline. Perhaps as important a move to make as actually bringing a player on. As for the noise if / when Christian finally enters the fray. Whether it is against Crystal Palace or elsewhere. Thomas has a wonderful card up his sleeve and when he plays it is a decision that has everyone guessing. Everyone talking. Everyone anticipating.

As for Crystal Palace, they’re only a point ahead of the Bees following a 1-1 draw with Norwich City midweek. I don’t think even Dean Smith would claim his side deserved to win after the Eagles had a gola disallowed and were guilty of missing what has been described as one of the worst Premier League penalties of all time. If only Manchester City had followed that script.

The game at Selhurst Park ended in a 0-0 draw. Our first Premier League away day played out in a cauldron of noise – even if it did require, shudders, a drummer to help crank things up. Likewise, there was fake Hans Gruber in the supermarket end, Doing his best to wind up the visitors and falling flat on his face (metaphorically speaking) after being invited to leave by the stewards.

Goodbye

Despite the mayhem and chaos all around, Brentford more than held their own. Recreating similar (perhaps without the drum) will be huge tomorrow. Ivan Toney being declared fit, equally so. Thomas Frank used his press conference yesterday to share the update that, “We found out late on Monday afternoon that Ivan Toney would be a big doubt for the City game (with a calf injury) but fingers crossed he’ll be ready for Saturday. It will be a race against time but we’re hoping he’ll be okay for the Palace game.

Only time will tell if Ivan is involved. If Bryan starts or Vitaly is fit. Whether Christian Eriksen could make a gladiatorial entry into the fray. Roll on 2.01pm when the team is named and we find out.

Bring it on. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Manchester City post match debrief

10 Feb

Our evening in the North-West ended with a 2-0 defeat for Brentford. A much changed team, which included David Raya for his first Premier League start in over four months, was unable to hold off the might of Manchester City despite giving it their all. With Ivan Toney presumably held back for Crystal Palace on Saturday, who were the top performers for Brentford? What were the highlights? And the lowlights, if any?

As ever, you can read it here in the post match catch up to find the leading player of the season aswell as our regular top five. It was close. It was disciplined but, in the end, it was Manchester City away….

Nick Bruzon