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1-1 draw sees another sting in the tail.

31 Aug

What else can you say about Brentford? Five games in to the season and we’re already running out of superlatives to describe the indefatigability (is the even a word?) of Thomas Frank’s squad. Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace was, like Everton on Saturday, another game where we left it until the very end of the game to finally reap our reward. Yoanne Wissa left unmarked in the box and rising like a salmon to head home Vitaly Janelt’s delicious ball over the home defence. It was no less than we deserved on the balance of play but, as we all know, it is goals not possession or chances that eventually win games. As with Everton on Saturday, Brentford broke opposition hearts after delivering a timely reminder that football is a 90 minute game. The visit of Leeds United on Saturday cannot come quickly enough. Tails are up and morale is high. 

What a finish at The Palace

Brentford were magnificent. Crystal Palace away is always a tough one. The team announcement made that challenge even sterner with the news that Christian Norgaard had joined Pontus Jansson on the sidelines. All being well both will return for Leeds on Saturday although, if not, the Bees look to be in safe hands. Ben Mee and Zanka had another run out together at the back although the real defensive plaudits should be handed to Rico Henry and Aaron Hickey. My word, they were magnificent. The later keeping Wilfried Zaha under lock and key all game (although hats off for that moment of genius to produce the opening goal on the hour) and playing a huge part in the Palace man’s emotional post match interview.

The other man to play his part in that was none other than Yoanne Wissa. It would be fair to say he didn’t have the strongest game of his career against Everton at the weekend but what a difference a few days can make. Like some hybrid of David Fairclough (kids, ask a grown up) and Jota, he once again came off the bench to turn it up to 11. Chock full of energy and with what is now his trademark – a late, late goal.

It was as exhilarating for the Bees faithful as it was devastating for Palace. In particular, Zaha. Despite a butt clenching wait for VAR to do it’s thing, justice was eventually delivered. Cripes, not sure my heart could take another wait of that length. It was bad enough at Fulham when Ivan Toney’s back foot was adjudged to be interfering with play as he ran in the opposite direction to their goal. At least, then, there had been time to turn it around. Had this one been somehow chalked off I suspect the officials may have required safe passage from the field of play. At least, to protect their ears.

Instead it was Brentford who almost wrapped up all three points, having gone behind to Zaha’s wonderful strike on the hour. Ivan Toney with the pass of the match to release Rico Henry from nowhere. Vicente Guaita produced a fine stop to smother his effort and push it away. He was powerless to do anything about Ben Mee’s header into the ground and onto the crossbar from the resulting corner. Huge sighs of relief all round from the home support. The game wrapping up shortly after and the spoils shared. The full post match debrief and player review is up here now for anybody wanting a little bit more on the match specifics.

So close from Ben Mee

For now, it is another well earned point. Three draws, one win and a solitary defeat from our opening five fixtures. Brentford currently in ninth as we await that point where the fledgling table can officially be declared to have taken shape. The response to our equaliser as joyous as they come. The performance equally so, especially given the absentees. Janelt’s ball to Wissa vying with Ivan’s to Rico for moment of the match. Hickey and Henry may sound like a legal firm but, in practice, the flying full backs give Brentford even further options down either flank. 

It would be wonderful to take the lead rather than play catch up. Only Manchester United (h) has seen us do that. Every other game has seen us fall behind until, mostly, reaping some form of reward. Then again, Thomas has been quite clear about having his starting and finishing XIs. In using his tactics to benefit from the fact that a game of football lasts for 90 minutes. My heart would benefit from the calmness of 4-0 lead on the half hour every game but there’s no denying the excitement generated by those late, late points.

As for Wissa, what do you do? Keep him as the perennial super(b) sub where his energy and ability inspire the team, invigorate the fans and and get the goals? Or have him on from the start with the hope he gets the rub of the green? Who’d be a head coach? What a lovely problem for Thomas to have.  

This Saturday sees the visit of Leeds United. There aren’t enough words to describe the history on that one. To talk up the heartbreaking denouement to last season where, ironically, it was Brentford who fell apart. Sergi’s equaliser setting up the chance for the win that would have relegated Leeds. Instead, his red card for exuberant celebration and a rash challenge saw the then 9 man Bees unable to push on for the win that would have sunk our opponents. Instead, Jack Harrison’s 94th minute goal secured all three points and safety for the Elland Road outfit.

That was then. This is now. Whilst I am sure Thomas Frank will have put it all behind him and will be playing the moment, you can be sure the fans won’t have. How sweet would it be to pick up another home win against these of all opponents.

Roll on Saturday when we find out….

Brentford official would share this on their Twitter feed

Nick Bruzon

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

14 Aug

Brentford 4 Manchester United 0. About as devastating a performance as one could hope to witness – for those of us from London (who support the Bees rather than United). Goals from Dasilva, Jensen, Mee and Toney blowing our visitors away and leaving Ronaldo a broken man. Yet there was so much more to it than that. The trip to Fulham on Saturday now an even more tantalising prospect than it already was.

As ever at this juncture, we look to see who was the star man and who made up the rest of the top five in our attempt to see who will be the season long top performer for Brentford. Who keeps their place after the performance against Manchester United or can anyone force their way in to the starting XI for Fulham?

And as ever, the answers are here. Sadly, 16 into 5 just won’t go but at least we can try. Enjoy…

Nick Bruzon

Brilliant Brentford batter United.

14 Aug

Is this what they mean by ‘second season syndrome’? Saturday evening saw Brentford write yet another incredible chapter in a story which continues to leap from the pages of a Hollywood movie script. If last season’s home opener against Arsenal had been a nice kick about with the boys, this was a full on bullying. A 4-0 spanking of Manchester United was a performance to rival the destruction of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last season. The Bees utterly dominant and scoring goals for fun. Each attack leading to another one on the board and, in the end, the only disappointment being that we didn’t make it to the 7(seven) goal bracketing of United that seemed more than possible with little more than half an hour played. Frank out !!  

At least in the Chelsea game our hosts had been vaguely involved. On Saturday, Brentford didn’t allow Manchester United the chance to even step foot in the game. The Bees on them from the off. Even the camaraderie seen in our pre kick-off huddle compared to our visitor’s standing around listlessly in their puke green kits telling you all you needed to know about the mental approach. There were points to be both won and proven here. The narrative around Christian Eriksen allegedly ‘saving our season‘ (yawn) being put to bed in a style that even the good people at Dormeo would have appreciated. 

What came next was like nothing seen at Lionel Road. The ferocity of approach up there with the play-off semi. United on the back foot from the off. Brentford hounding their rivals. Running with the ball. Passing it around with aplomb. Mathias Jensen on fire. Christian Eriksen greeted with a cacophony of boos every time he got near the ball. What must he be thinking now? “Left for the money” sung the crowd, amongst other things. He’s walked in to a living nightmare and one which only got worse with every passing minute.  Man U? More like Manure.

Within ten minutes, Brentford were ahead. Josh Dasilva receiving the ball from Jensen, drifting across to a shooting position and lashing it low from well outside the box. David de Gea should have stopped it but instead, all he could do was let it squeeze through him and into the back of the net. It was a good shot and let’s also credit the build up of pressure as a contributory factor. David Raya at the other end seeing his squad position for Spain moving up another notch.  

Credit, too, for the way Jensen took the ball off Roanldo to provide the assist. The tantrum prone stropmeister then left sitting on his haunches for a good 30 seconds after the ball had hit the back of the net. Like Eriksen, all his nightmares coming true. Unlike Eriksen, he had no fight. No stomach for a battle. Instead of getting up to inspire his team his game descended into a series of theatrical dives and hissy fits. One thumping of the pitch in frustration having the entire North stand in fits of laughter. 

An overprivileged show pony who should have been leading by example. Instead, his petulance and ego only contributing to United’s demise.

Get over yourself, Ronaldo

But if Josh had put us into dreamland with that early goal it was nothing compared to what came next. Jensen doubling the lead after de Gea played a woeful pass out of defence to Eriksen ( think Alvaro Fernandez at Anfield levels of bad) who was sold totally up the river. Jensen reacting quickest and cleverest to nick the ball and with a beautiful shimmy, create the space for 2-0. The cheers as loud as the Bees were brilliant. 

Two became three as Ivan Toney plopped it straight on to Ben Mee’s head in a crowded box and then, with 34 minutes gone, the pick of the bunch. Jensen again at the heart of everything. He won the ball off of Jaden Sancho in our box and played a delightful ball half up the pitch straight to Toney. His own first touch then delivering an exquisite raking pass on the diagonal straight to the feet of the on running Mbeumo. Luke Shaw’s clumsy challenge on th edge of the box evaded and the ball stroked home for 4-0. FOUR. NIL. Brentford 4-0 up against Manchester United with little more than a half hour played. My word. 

There it stayed until half-time. I genuinely expected United to come back out in different kits, blaming the shirt colour for blending in with the grass as the true reason for the absolute shoeing they’d received. Instead, there was more of that vile green which I’ll be amazed should it ever see ther light of day again. Equally, I expected them to come out at 100mph – Erik ten Hag having delivered the mother of all team talks. Instead, there was nothing. Sure, a bit more endeavour but no real chances. Instead, Aaron Hickey showing that his flattening of Ronaldo meant that we weren’t going to roll over in the second period.   

4-0 it stayed. It could have been more. Probably should have been more. Yet to be upset with ‘only’ ending the game third in the Premier League and with one of our greatest results ever under the belt would be nothing short of churlish. The full time celebrations showing just what it meant to everyone inside the stadium. That Manchester United were terrible is their problem. You still have to beat your opponents and Brentford did it in a style that made the world sit up and take notice. 

Full time as enjoyable as ever

One had to feel for their supporters. Obliterated by Brentford and their misery further compounded by the RMT strike meaning all trains back to Surrey were cancelled.

Or, should that be, almost all their supporters. Professional gobshite Terry Christian was still giving it large before the game. This, despite last season’s gloating having already blown up spectacularly in his face. Some people never learn. 

Still, that’s his problem. For me and for Brentford fans it was another beautiful afternoon. Another of those times you have to pinch yourself to see just how far we’ve come. Ten years ago we were drawing 0-0 with Bury at Gigg Lane. I was there for that one and now, well….  

It was demonstration that all the money in the world counts for naff all when you are that shambolic. That, ultimately, you cannot put a price on team spirit and mindset. 

All the talk coming into the game was about Christian Eriksen. All the talk coming out of it was about Mathias Jensen. He was incredible. Let’s not pretend otherwise. The star man awards (how to pick 5 out of 16 I have no idea) are now up and you can find them here. Otherwise, perhaps might just go and watch Match Of The Day once more. Think we may be first up. 

Jensen – a work of art

Nick Bruzon

New striker signing could see football’s most iconic shirt deal in tatters.

19 Jul

Sure, Manchester United may have finally beaten Brentford in the race to Christian Eriksen’s signature (a wait that has taken them almost as long as that for a league title). Yes, we’re all seeing the same clickbait ’stories’ about Ivan Toney – move along, nothing to see here and then insert emoji of your choice. The question of which defenders will be fit for the start of the season hangs heavy in the air, as Thomas evaded that question on Saturday with all the ease of Mathias Jensen playing a through ball. Besides, there are wonderful new signings in the shape of Keane Lewis-Potter, Aaron Hickey and Albania international goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha, who has swapped Lazio for Manchester United Lionel Road. Fair to say there’s plenty going on at present yet the top, top news is a story which you may well have missed. It comes to us from Barnsley via Ipswich Town and Tranmere Rovers, amongst others. Prolific striker James Norwood has found a new home but, in the process, has inadvertently ruined one of football’s greatest bromances. Namely, that with his long-running shirt sponsor – Bees’ fan, err, James Norwood.

James Norwood, left. And right.

Those of us with an interest in all things EFL will be familiar with James Norwood  – the player. The lower league goal machine who has been banging them in for fun since 2009. Primarily at Tranmere Rovers but more recently doing the business for Ipswich Town. Supporting him all the way on this journey through the footballing pyramid has been namesake James Norwood. A Brentford fan as well known in TW8 as being the one who these days lives in California yet seems to have an incredible knack for making it to most games. Something which, for the record, has been as applicable to our time in League Two as it is now we’ve made it up the charts.

James (our James) is a man for whom the initial novelty of sponsoring the player at Forest Green Rovers has turned into an almost ritualistic routine of keeping that run going. From The New Lawn to Prenton Park, James has been there. Perhaps not making it over for every ‘meet the player’ bash but still with another shirt for the wardrobe and another programme entry saying: James Norwood. Sponsored by: James Norwood. Something which in itself could well cause those out of the loop to think the talismanic goal scorer was also somewhat of a narcissist. For the record, he isn’t. As far as I know. 

The move to Ipswich Town in 2019 saw James continue his fine run of sponsorship form. Norwood and Norwood becoming a partnership as well known in club circles as Morecambe & Wise. Ant and Dec. Guns ’N Roses.

Mrs. Norwood, perhaps, wondering why her husband keeps running off to Europe to hang out with a footballer from teams he doesn’t even support. At face value, her confusion perhaps understandable but you can’t put a price on a great tradition. Moreso, one which has been going so strongly for so long. Until now, where disaster has struck…..

After three seasons at Portman Road, Norwood was released by Ipswich at the end of the 2021/22 campaign. Barnsley made their move and two days ago our man signed for the Oakwell club. All well and good except herein lies the problem. The Barnsley Supporters Club have moved faster than Toby Tyke in a mascot race (oh, we haven’t forgotten at Brentford…..) to secure the prestigious player sponsorship slot. 

Norwood is now a Tyke

You can’t blame them. A new hero joining the ranks and the chance to associate themselves with this footballing demi-god.

The not so good news is that it means our James Norwood is now out in the cold. His fine run over and the chance to continue football’s longest running  / most bizarre shirt sponsorship now in ruins.

There was nothing malicious about the new incumbents’ move. How were they to know up front?

The question now being whether fair play, gallantry and a sense of honour may intervene to see them step aside? A question of whether Barnsley can do anything to help broker a truce that would see this long running saga continue?

Come on Barnsley. Come on CEO, Khaled El-Ahmad. Is there ANYTHING you can do? Otherwise, this one will end with James Norwood (our James Norwood) forever remaining an ex-tractor fan.

Might this one see an 11th hour reprieve?

Nick Bruzon 

Another Monkees moment approaches although this would be eleven times better.

20 May

One Premier League game to go. Brentford sit 11th in the table, with this Sunday’s visit from Leeds United even bigger than it already was following last night’s almost perfect combination of results. Everton are safe after coming back from 0-2 down to defeat Palace. Burnley control their own destiny after holding Aston Villa in a game that, arguably, they may even have won. Regardless, the point earned was sufficient to take them out of the bottom three as we head into that final round of fixtures. The Bees are now clear of both Villa and The Eagles, knowing that a win (combined with defeat for Brighton) will see us finish tenth. This would, of course, also see Leeds United relegated….…. 

Oh. My. You couldn’t have scripted it. A moment that has been building for so long is now upon us. We’d all seen the possibility from the moment the fixtures were published. Albeit most critics thinking it would be Leeds United as the ones aiming to hit the top ten whilst swinging the axe marked ‘relegation’. Instead, it is Brentford who find themselves in pole position. The stars slowly aligning over the last few months with supporters whispering under their breath about the potential for the final weekend but barely even able to speak about it for fear of the dream scenario not coming into play. Now, it has. Now we are in a place where… 

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had this kind of pre-match buzz since the return of Harlee Dean and Birmingham City to Griffin Park in February 2018. 

Their triple transfer swoop earlier in the season had, of course, already left a sour taste in the mouth

Maxime Colin. Gone. As much a blow as it meant we lost Peter Gilham’s quite wonderful Gallic stylings as he wrapped his tongue around the full back’s consonants.

Jota. Gone. There aren’t the words to describe the heartbreak felt. Even now, he’s up there in the bracket of my most favourite of all modern-era players. The passion. The joy. What he did in the last minute. Time and again. What he did at Fulham. What he did to Jake Bidwell at Griffin Park. The flowing locks. The silky skills. The heartbreaking ‘farewell’ (first time). The joyous return. All to go ’there’. Urghh

Jota – any excuse. Just one of so many wonderful moments

And, of course, Harlee Dean. Gone.

Harry Redknapp flashing the Birmingham City chequebook to hoover up a quarter of our starting XI in a move that would ultimately backfire big time. Harlee then kicking us squarely in the knackers with ‘that’ soundbite. Another case of the brain taking a good ten seconds to catch up. Much akin to a man leaving his car keys in the ignition, sticking a big bow on the bonnet and then turning his back as an opportunistic thief walked past..

If only he’d just thought it. But no, he said it.

It was a moment that is as now enshrined in Brentford infamy as Russell Slade, the Burnley commentary team, Martin Rowlands’ twisted kiss and number 26 refusing to play against Burnley. Just prior to his then signing….for Burnley.

That said, should he do the business against Newcastle on Sunday (something that will also see Leeds relegated regardless of how things play out at Lionel Road) then perhaps we can cut a little slack. Perhaps… 

Here’s hoping that Burnley can celebrate at Full Time, this time

The scene had been set but what played out when Birmingham City made their first visit to Brentford since all of that nonsense was beyond even the wildest dreams. You knew something special was in the air when, on walking into the ground, the first song heard from #BeeTheDJ was Jessie J – Price Tag . “Money. Money. Money” indeed.

The crowd were buzzing, the atmosphere charged. Flo Jo and Ollie Watkins giving us an early lead before a brace from Neal Maupay made it 4-0 with less than an hour played. Harlee coping it from everyone with even goalkeeper Daniel Bentley unable to supress his giggles. Ollie rounding things with a late fifth and that’s how things stayed. 

Yet just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, there was Brentford Official to surpass even the Jessie J moment. Instead of our regular ‘win music’, there was the ultimate in trolling.

Kool and The Gang / Celebrate subbed off.

The Monkees/ Daydream Believer brought on for a rousing reception.

The chants of ‘Cheer up Harlee Dean’ which had being doing the round most of the game, cranked up to the loudest yet. Simply beautiful and, whilst there has been a lot of subsequent dissection of this moment – predominantly saying we should have been better than this – for me, Clive, it captured the mood of the supporters quite magnificently. It was dirty. It was a low blow. It was brilliant.

That’s how it feels for this Sunday. A game where there is a personal edge to all of this.

A team whose fan base, amongst all of those aiming the tinpot jibes, has been as condescending as it comes over the years.

A club who have consistently fleeced visiting supporters.

A club, apparently, too big for a league that has regularly seen them matched up with ‘little’ Brentford in recent years. Of course, stadium size equates to the league a team should be playing in.

Neal Maupay doing what only Neal could. Even when there were no supporters present.

Then there’s ‘that. video. Probably most of all there’s that video.

“Mind the Gap, Thomas Frank”.….. Not my words Carol. The words of Liam Cooper and Stuart Dallas.

I’m sure whatever Thomas says in public, there’s nothing that will give greater pleasure than boxing this one off. Than being the one whose team turn the screw and deliver the fatal blow.

Oh, to return all of that with interest and a smile….

Football isn’t that simple, of course. Wishful thinking alone doesn’t win games. Leeds United will be in a desperate fight for survival. Much as we’d all love to be facing a litter of toothless kittens, I suspect we’ll be confronted by a caged tiger. A desperate beast backed into a corner with survival hanging in the balance.

Their support will be loud. Fierce. Ours needs to be ten times better. And it will. This is going to be as exciting as it comes. As much for the chance of our own top ten finish as whatever else may come.

Watching the Burnley game in The Griff last night, the cheer as they went 1-0 up said everything about where our hearts lie. About what is now in front of us.

I can’t wait for this one. See you there…

Just a bus stop in Hounslow…..

Nick Bruzon

The morals of a psychopath. The teeth of a great white shark.

22 Mar

Just eight games to go. Our first Premier League campaign racing towards an exciting denouement. Brentford may have gone down to Leicester City by the odd goal in three on Sunday but as it stands the table shows the Bees 8 points (and superior goal difference) clear of third bottom Watford, a somewhat gargantuan 18 off the European places but 6 away from the top ten. Don’t @ me – the table doesn’t lie. Whilst Europe is too much even for an optimist such as yours truly, top ten for Brentford is still a feasible possibility. I know many fans are still looking over their shoulders, understandable from some respects, but glass half full and all that. Next up Chelsea. Assuming the padlocks haven’t gone over the gates of Stamford Bridge by that stage. Then West Ham at home. Nobody said it was going to be easy at this level, that’s for sure.

First up, Leicester City. What can you say? The post match debrief and top five players can be found here. For me, Clive, one incident stands out. They say ‘fine margins’ make the difference at this level and wasn’t that the truth? James Maddison came into this game with all eyes on him following his performance in the reverse fixture at Lionel Road. He may aswell have been wearing a top hat, cape and twirling a waxed moustache as he strode out on to the pitch. 

One could almost hear the Mwah, ha, ha, ha of a panto villain’s laugh as he backed into Mathias Jensen, threw himself to the ground and then got back up to hit a screamer past David Raya. No doubting the quality of the strike – one to rival Timothy Castagne’s opener for The Foxes  – but whether he should have even been in a position to hit the ball remains very much open to debate.

It had seemed questionable at the time – they always do, though ! However, the video clip that has been doing the rounds on social media and has since been taken down really does beg the question as to what the heck was going on in the VAR booth? The ‘official’ highlights c/o our friends at Sky Sports cut straight to the goal itself rather than the cause. Somewhat frustratingly. That’s the polite term for the goal that allowed the Foxes to double their lead.

It was Jeremy Clarkson who said, “The fox is not a little orange puppy dog with doe eyes and a waggly tail. It’s a disease-ridden wolf with the morals of a psychopath and the teeth of a great white shark”.

I’ll just leave that there.

A clear ‘foul’

So, we lost. Wissa’s late strike not quite enough to drag us back in to things. The pressure on Leicester building but Kasper Schmeichel doing his thing. The absent Christian Eriksen likely to have made a big difference but there was still enough about us in the second half to suggest that had we pushed up (Brentford) a bit earlier and harder then the result could well have been different. 

The other frustrating thing of the afternoon was the inevitable response to the team line up from certain quarters on social media. Nobody can doubt that Christian Eriksen is a cut above just about any midfield options we have. He has been immense. Covid robing us of the chance to see him in action. Likewise, his absence from the squad meaning a return to the starting XI for Mathias Jensen. The negativity around each point as predictable and evident as ever. 

Hey, I’m all for opinion and if somebody has a bad game then we need to talk about it. Absolutely. What I can’t get my head around is this putting the boot in before a ball has even been kicked. Perhaps its just a generational thing. Perhaps I’m just blindly naive and don’t know how football works. Likewise, I know that players don’t see any of this but, equally, negativity spreads. Transmits. The vibe kills. The groans and mutters every time the current ‘target’ goes near the ball sound louder. Become infectious amongst the lemmings not wanting to be seen backing the ‘bad one’. 

Ah, I don’t get it. We’re all experts and its super easy from the safety of the stands, the pub, social media or wherever you follow your football. The opinions are great. The opinions are needed. The pre-determined negativity just baffles me. Whilst its easy to say look away, this stuff just pops up all over the shop.

Anyway, like a cracked record and all that. For what it’s worth, I don’t think we’re going down. I still believe we can end the season in, or around, the top ten. I don’t think the team selection warrants this level of negativity. I’d LOVE Christian Eriksen to be playing – who wouldn’t – but I’m not sitting poised over my keyboard to drip poison the second he isn’t available. Etcetera, etcetera etcetera. I’m not going to change. Nor, I suspect, are others. As ever, the simple question remains – if somehow given the opportunity, would you say what you type to to the manager or the player’s face ? Hmmm.

Now we’re on to a fortnight of down time. Two weeks to rest and recover. Two weeks of International ‘break’. Most eyes will be on the Spain squad to see if David Raya makes his first international start. His displacement of David de Gea symptomatic of both our own man’s ability and the current crisis at Old Trafford. 

Then, its the short hop to Chelsea. The lucky few Brentford fans with tickets awarded in that first, pre sanction, tranche needing to be even louder than ever. The state of the team for that one not even close to being discussed yet. If nothing else, we’ve a whole gamut of players on international duty. David with Spain and then most of the midfield with Denmark  – Jensen, Norgaard and Eriksen all swapping red and white stripes for, errr, red and white. Fingers crossed everyone returns in high spirits and unscathed.

Until then, we’ve the Leicester debrief to catch up on. Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon 

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

20 Feb

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

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

Post-match commentary was interesting:

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

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

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

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

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

Arsenal twitter – a real work of art

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

New video footage shines different light on worst dive ever.

4 Jan

There’s no Premier League action for Brentford until next and the trips to Southampton / Liverpool. We’ve got the FA Cup this weekend but before then we’ve got the last knockings from the Aston Villa game at the weekend. Of course, that ended with both a 2-1 win for the Bees and a last second piece of hammy theatrics from Trézéguet so blatant, so sub-Rivaldo and just so ludicrous as to earn mockery from all over the internet and beyond. Even Match Of The Day 2 laying in to the most cringe inducing dive since Greg Louganis at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. It was a dive which produced an unexpected delivery to the Last Word inbox. Namely, new video footage of the incident that you’ll absolutely want to see.

How it appeared at first

First up, we’ve got the player ratings for Brentford. The ongoing quest to see who will end the season as our outstanding performer aswell as looking at the top five individual ratings on a game by game basis. The Aston Villa results can be found here. If nothing else, we’ve been given a clue as to how the team for Southampton may well look.

Then, just when the weekend looked like if had drawn to a close we had more. Specifically, more Trézéguet. And no, this wasn’t the picture of him spark out on a plane, accompanying Liverpool legend Mo Salah to the African Cup of Nations.

Instead, a mystery benefactor sent through additional footage of the Trézéguet incident. Whilst most fans are hoping for some retrospective punishment, has the Aston Villa man been wronged?

Was there outside influence from the much touted ‘sniper in the crowd’ theory?

Or was it just a shit dive?

We’ll never know because the Premier League have since had it taken down after close on 50,000 views. Their call. Instead, we’ve gone for a different take – namely, an artist’s impression of events.

Over to you….

Nick Bruzon

Who were the top five performers? Who tops the season long chart?

3 Jan

Brentford 2 Aston Villa 1. A win for the Bees in a game where we never said die and never gave up, despite the somewhat slow start to the game. In the end, justice was done. As much for the non-award of a penalty following the callous taking out of Trézéguet by a sniper in the crowd with just seconds left on the clock. Even Match Of The Day paying him out for that one. Instead, with the games at Southampton and Liverpool next up in the league for Brentford its time to look at those players who left this game with their heads held high. Those who might have played themselves into contention for those next couple of road trips.

In addition, who is holding pace in the hunt for our season long top five? Who has broken in to that top group where there has been a change at the business end? The answers are here. Enjoy. And see you at Southampton…

Nick Bruzon

Can we pick up the baton and run after last time?

2 Jan

Here we go again. The first fixture of 2022 is upon us with Brentford hosting Aston Villa at Lionel Road on (checks calendar) Sunday afternoon. 2pm is the kick off time for a game going out live on Sky Sports Premier League. For the Bees, yesterday’s positive news (predominantly around Kris Ajer and Vitaly Janelt) was given a further boost by the man very much one of our top( top) performers this season, Christian Nørgaard. There was wonderful news out of ‘official’ surrounding his new deal but the ultimate question to be asked is whether we can harness the positivity from last week’s narrow defeat to Manchester City to get back to winning ways? 

Fantastic news, yesterday

The pundits would seem to be looking towards Aston Villa as the winners of this one. As are the bookies, who have Brentford priced at 2/1 to win. Fair enough. The form under new manager Steven Gerrard being seen as key. Likewise, the covid related break they’ve had. However, with captain Tyrone Mings absent as a result of a fifth yellow card could we have an added glimmer of hope? Might Ollie Watkins have an off day? What of, with apologies for going all FLW / Chronicle, much touted ‘starlet’ Jacob Ramsey? Indeed, at what point does the cut off between starlet and fully fledged stellar  / ‘out of this world’ performer occur? 

Frankly, who cares. This is all about us. This is all about how Brentford pick up the baton from our performance against Manchester City and run with it. I can only imagine we’ll have Christian Nørgaard back in the team, despite the heroics of those selected last time out. It’ll be harsh but why leave your best players on the bench if they are available? 

If nothing else, the announcement made yesterday regarding his contract extension will only serve to put an additional spring in the step of both the midfielder and the fans. It was confirmed yesterday that he has extended his time at Lionel Road until the end of the 2024/25 season, with the three and a half year deal having the option for a further year’s extension. Only somebody who had been living under a/the rock would fail to appreciate the significance of this. It’s just huge for Brentford.

Thomas Frank was effusive in his praise, telling ‘official’ that, “Christian shows great leadership qualities in training every day and he helps build our culture. That is very important to us. He has an unbelievably important role in this team, and it is great that he will be part of our future.

For me, Clive, it is magnificent news. Christian is going neck and neck with Ivan and Rico in the race to find our top performer over the season (you can read the latest instalment of that one – the post Manchester City piece – here). Anything that ties him to our future and our club can only be a good thing. Happy days indeed.

As for the game, well victory would see us overtake Aston Villa and up as far as  11th placed Crystal Palace. With the groundswell of Covid related cancellations still causing mayhem, getting a proper read on the table is till a bit tricky. Palace have played two more than us, table toppers Manchester City three more whilst Burnley in 18th have gone two less. All we can do is focus on the task in hand and remember that s Eason is 46 38 games long. The only position that matters is the one occupied after that final fixture has played out. Albeit, let’s not pretend that topping the Premier League after beating Arsenal wasn’t the most amazing / hilarious thing going. Sergi Canos and, of course, Christian helping make that possible.

For what its worth, I’m going for a Brentford win today. With goals in it. 3-2 for the record. Confidence in our boys combined with the attempt at jinxing Ollie through the medium of Fantasy Football (see yesterday) will hopefully suffice. Not to mention the small matter of Thomas’ tactics and a strange omen (which I’ll elaborate on tomorrow should it somehow come off). A wonderful opportunity awaits this afternoon and I cannot wait to see how it plays out. Even just the slightly novel concept of getting back in to regular football is a nice one. Long may that continue.

On a side note, don’t forget to pick up the matchday programme. I would’t normally plug this (as much due to my own four pages of nonsense – albeit hoping the Villa kit pics have come out well). However, the prospect of Greville Waterman effusing over Ollie Watkins and a catch up with Kevin O’Connor are never to be missed. Hey, if nothing else there’s that wonderful cover art from the amazing Dave Flanagan. Somebody I am led to believe is a goat. Whatever that means. Keep those cultural references coming.

That’s it. See you there. Here’s to 2pm……

Nick Bruzon