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Bees sting hornets as wonderful run continues.

17 Apr

You wait ages for a Premier League double and then two come along at once. Brentford leaving it late, so very late, to grab the winning goal and condemn Watford to another home defeat. A 2-1 scoreline one that the hosts may feel sees them hard done by but goals win games. Would that Ian Moose had been present – he might have, I neither know nor care – I’m sure the TalkSport narcissist would have been berating the Hornet’s frontline and strapping on his own shooting boots such was the proliferation of late chances they had. One, from Louza, will now have a permanent home in the ‘How did that not go in? files’ . It should have been buried. Instead, with just seconds of time added on left over, it was hoofed over from lads out rather than placed into the gaping goalmouth. The Bees got the ball to safety, went down the other end and Pontus Jansson did his thing to send the travelling fans nuts.  Last weekend’s WW over West Ham now followed by one over Watford. Five wins out of the last six and the top ten a very real prospect. On this kind of form, anything is possible when Tottenham visit on Saturday.

View form the terrace: Brentford go nuts – Watford suffering utter dejection

As regular readers will know, we don’t do full fat match reports on these pages. If you were there, you saw it. Otherwise there’s all manner of ways to catch up on what happened. The main talking points being Brenford once more showing that never say die indefatigability. As Pontus rose to head home the winner and charge toward the flailing limbs from the massed ranks of the way support in front of him, it brought memories of West Ham and Wissa back to the fore. That one, a game where the denouement had come just as late. Where once more things had been down our end. Where the eruption of delight was writ large on everyone’s faces.

Even this morning our Harry was still smiling: “Dad. Dad. There’s only 12 second left. 12 seconds” his joyous realisation as we celebrated em-masse. That glorious bond between fans and players again in evidence as those heroes in white (and blue, let’s not forget David) leapt towards the travelling Bees.

There was no saltiness from the Watford fans in out corner though. Instead, they’d already started melting away long before Louza had been presented the chance to record a home win. Brentford making all the noise. Taking the opportunity to win a game when, being honest, there would have been few complaints had we left Vicarage Road empty handed. Christian Norgaard giving Brentford an early lead following a long throw from Ethan but the game then turning into a dreary nothing rather than the much predicted avalanche of goals. 

Brentford with few chances. Watford even less as our backline mopped up anything and everything that came even vaguely close. When the hosts finally levelled up, ten minutes into the second half, there was a brief moment of salvation as the offside flag went up. Then, it was gone. VAR saving the Hornets and the scores were level. From 90 yards away it was hard to say if it was on or off, even prior to the flag. This morning ’s catch up on Match Of The Day does, once more, show the confusion around the decision making process.

How does this VAR thing work, exactly?

Regardless, there were 35 minutes to save the game. Watford had the upper hand, relatively speaking. They must have been wearing gloves though as finding their way to goal a task that seemed as futile as their survival hopes. Err, what super computer? Move along, nothing to see there….

For Brentford, 5 wins out of the last 6. A total 11 out of 33 played in the Premier League and now up to 11th in the table. The green jacket once again present to continue its 100% win ratio. Played 5. Won 5. Goals For: 13. Goals agasint: 3. Points: 15.

Despite the heat of a balmy spring afternoon, it remained firmly in situ from the off – much to Mrs. Bruzon’s disgust. As at Chelsea, she kindly gave her ticket to a friend and so could only follow from afar. Her generosity matched only by the Watford defence. The WhatsApp messages being exchanged both celebrating victory and lamenting the realisation that this luckiest of lucky omens, this (apparent) crime against fashion, lives to see another game. 

Smiling all the way up the league

That game is, of course, the visit of Tottenham. Something something something Christian Eriksen. I suspect it may be mentioned. That’s the media’s thing, of course. For Brentford nothing more to do than focus on the games left. Those last 15 points to play for. The chance to finish our first Premier League season in the top ten. If ever there was incentive to get behind the Bees then here it is. Those berating Phil Giles in January for his transfer strategy now, strangely silent. Those critics of Thomas Frank and keyboard warriors back under their rocks. Every season it’s the same. Every season the joy felt by Brentford confounding both the critics and even our most vocal of followers becomes even more enjoyable.

Tommy Mooney the latest to add his name to those left frustrated. We’ve already had the Burnley commentary crew and West Ham manager David Moyes in recent weeks. Now we can add the name of the one time Watford goal machine to that list. Sit back and enjoy.

For now, a few days to kick back before we get set for Spurs. Our next chance to continue the climb up the table. Another chance to add a notch to the Premier League bedpost. 

Tottenham. Tottenham. No once can stop them – as Chas & Dave once sung. On this sort of form, I wouldn’t bank on it…

Until then, here’s the player review…..

Nick Bruzon

Will it be case of Hakuna Matata (it means ‘No Worries’) at Vicarage Road?

16 Apr

Hello. Hello. What have we here? Two London derbies down. Two wins under the belt. Two to go. With Brentford having blown Chelsea off the park at Stamford Bridge and then disposed of West Ham in a style akin to a cat toying with a spider, April continues apace. Before the visit from Tottenham next Saturday, today we travel to Watford for what is, arguably, a game where form could go out of the window. With the Championship approaching at a rate of knots, will we get the Watford who have lost four of their last five home games? The Watford with the worst home record in the Premier League this season (they’ve lost 12 out of the 15 games played)? The Watford who could emulate the feat of Birmingham City in 1985-86 and lose ten consecutive top flight games?

Or will the desperation of trying to hang on to top flight status mean Brentford are up against a team possessed ? One with nothing to lose – the game aside – by going full tilt from the off. After going down 3-0 to Leeds United in a result our own super-computer had marked as a home win, the Hornets really are now starting to warm up the vocal chords in the last chance saloon.

So far, so good in April

I love the unpredictability of football. Nobody expected Brentford to humble Chelsea. To be fair, nobody expected Chelsea to give Real Madrid the fright they did in what turned out to be the narrowest of second leg defeats in Europe during the week. Thankfully, that one went as predicted as it means our own game with Tottenham remains on a Saturday rather than the graveyard shift of Sunday lunchtime (only Monday nights are worse). Nobody expects Watford to offer much resistance this afternoon, either. Moreso after falling apart against Leeds United  – oh, the irony – last time out.

That’s dangerous thinking. For now, they’re still standing but anyone thinking they’re going to sacrifice Premier League status without a fight is in for a bumpy afternoon. There’s nothing more dangerous than a caged hornet backed into a corner. Or should that be what looks like a moose? Red deer rather than catering obsessed narcissist. The Bees are under genuine danger of being hit by a rocket, man. Kitchen sinks being thrown from the off. The big question being how we cope? Suck it up and catch them on the break or take the game to opponents for whom top flight survival is a commodity that is hanging by an ever unravelling thread.

Well, the good news is that, if anything, Brentford now have too many options available. Cripes, imagine saying that earlier in the season. Still, unlike David Moyes we’ve never bleated about it as an excuse for defeat. Poor West Ham. How is Kurt, by the way? The bitch is back. And I love it. Zouma getting everything he deserved and moreso last time out. Take that, you cat kicking fool.

Thomas was left purring with delight after the West Ham game

Now, however, the tables are turned. We have choice. The midfield trio of Christian Eriksen, Christian Norgaard and Vitaly Janelt have been inspired in recent weeks. Having one of the best players in world football will do that to you. Even better news came out of the press conference with confirmation that Josh Dasilva is available once more. Thomas Frank telling the massed ranks of the media that he will be involved with the squad, adding, “Fingers crossed he can stay fit and avoid strange red cards so we see more of him. My take is that a fit Josh Dasilva would have been one of our best performing players this season. “

Given the health update –  “He is nowhere near top fit because we need to ease him into it, and it will probably take a couple of weeks before we really see the best of him”  – one can only expect Josh to start on the bench. What an option to have though? What we’ve seen of him so far this season since finally recovery form that injury has been nothing short of wonderful. Now, the prospect of seeing a midfield with Dasilva and Eriksen is one which has all Brentford fans drooling. Ivan Toney must be licking his lips at the prospect.

Also back is Pontus Jansson after missing out against West Ham with illness. Just as in midfield, there are now tough choices to be made in the back line. Thomas Frank has showed he’s not afraid to make the big calls, though. To mix things up and stay a step ahead of the opposition. Cripes, if the home support can’t read it what must our opponents think.

Back fours against Norwich and Burnley saw us revert to five at Chelsea, with Mads Roerslev quite wonderful in the right channel. His reward was to make way for Kris Ajer last week as we once again became a four. Good luck working out what we do today but, being realistic, it is the midfield where this game is going to be won or lost. Whether in containing and breaking or taking the game to Watford ourselves.

Will our captain regain his place now fit again?

For what its worth, I expect us to try and dictate the pace. Whichever line up Thomas has gone for, the approach has been one of going for it from the off. That twenty minute burst where the Bees look to assert themselves. Snuffing out the opposition as easily as a candle in the wind before they can get into the game.

Sitting back has rarely worked well, regardless of whether we are playing Liverpool or Leeds United. I can only expect more of the flair seen in the last month as we aim to make it three league wins in a row.

I can’t wait for this one. It’s not going to be easy. And that’s just the getting to Vicarage Road where the travel has already been decimated thanks to bank Holiday engineering works. All being well, it’ll be worth the effort. Limbs from the Bees faithful. Sad songs from our hosts.

If nothing else, we’ve still got the green jacket. Regular readers to this page know the current win ratio Hakuna Matata indeed. It means no worries !

From Carrow Road to Stamford Bridge and beyond – the stats don’t lie

Just saying. See you there.

Until then, if you’d like to read more then here’s the West Ham review.

Nick Bruzon  

West Ham debrief. Like last week, 11 into 5 just won’t go.

11 Apr

Another weekend. Another three points for Brentford. Another victory in a London derby. This time, West Ham came, saw and catipulated. With the Bees just a solitary point off tenth place in the Premier League, this Saturday’s game with Watford is even bigger than it already was when the fixtures were published .

As ever at this juncture, time to look back at who was the star man for Brentford. Who were the top five performers as West Ham ran the gauntlet of cat calling directed to their defence? Who is in line to be our season long top performer? Can anyone break in to the team for the visit to Watford?

The answers are here…….

Nick Bruzon

That’s how your cat felt. Bees do it on and off the pitch.

11 Apr

Ian Moose – your boys took one hell of a… etc etc etc. Brentford have done it again. Hot off the heels of last weekend’s 4-1 demolition of Chelsea, another London derby victory has been earned. This time around our 2-0 defeat of West Ham at Lionel Road as comfortable as they come. The three points earned at the Olympic stadium in October repeated in front of our home support. With a late surge toward the top half of the table still on (as it stands the Bees sit just a solitary point behind tenth placed Crystal Palace ) the forthcoming trip to relegation threatened Watford is as big a fixture as we will have played all season.

Fun in the sun at Lionel Road

Brentford made it look as easy as the scoreline suggests on Sunday. The game always well under control with second half goals from Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo eventually dealing the inevitable blow. West Ham not even close to coming second. Brentford clinical as the pressure on our opponents grew.

By that point they had already been forced into a defensive reshuffle. Kurt Zouma limping off after less than half an hour following his second visit from the medical staff. “Call the RSPCA” quipped one terrace wag as chants of “That’s how your cat felt” rung around the majority of Lionel Road.

One has to wonder how much of blessing in disguise it was for Zouma. Finally running out of lives well before his ninth after after coping dog’s abuse (or should that be…) every time he touched the ball.

The programme cover that never was

The substitution made little difference. Brentford dominating the midfield and slowly turning the screw. Bryan should probably have put us ahead in the first half. He made no mistake just two minutes in to the second. Ivan Toney with a wonderful assist before doubling the lead. His header home this time being served up on a plate by Mbeumo after Rico had sent an inch perfect cross over the box to the back stick.

Not even Said Benrahma could make a difference when he came on for the final half-hour. A glimmer of his wonderful talent on show but the former Bees’ hero unable to make any impact on or through a resolute midfield. Eriksen wonderful. Norgaard equally so. Brentford now having won every game the former has started. The same win ratio applying to yours truly’s lucky green jacket.

The sartorial masterpiece, obviously, remains the real reason for another three points.

The stats don’t lie…

Those looking downwards hopefully feeling a touch less stressed now. Defeats for Watford at home to Leeds United and Burnley at Norwich City mean the bottom three are looking further adrift. Everton beating an absolutely woeful Manchester United on Saturday lunchtime casting further consternation to the clubs below that dotted line. 

For those with eyes on the upper echelons of the table there remains huge cause for optimism. April has already seen us taking 6 points from 6 in London derbies. The month is completed by Watford away and then a visit from another Champions League chasing club, Tottenham. At this rate, anything is possible.

It’s not so much the margin of victory as the style of play now being shown by Brentford. Back to our free styling Championship best, despite playing clubs with genuine aspirations of making Europe’s top table. Thomas Frank not afraid to mix things up again with a return to the back four set up and Mads Roerslev missing out alongside the unwell Pontus Jansson. Perhaps harsh on the young Dane after doing so well against Chelsea but at the end of the day, Clive, we’ll all point to the win as being all that counts.

Next up, Watford. There’s no midweek fixture and so a chance to take stock. To rest any tired limbs. To wonder just what the heck Matthew Benham needs to do to persuade Christian Eriksen to stay on for another season. The crowd love him. The team feed off everything he does. The smile is ever present on his face. Could fate be smiling on us? Just offer him a green jacket, Matthew…

Until then there’s not much else to do beyond reflect on all we have achieved so far. There are only 7(seven) Premier League games to go and Brentford have defied just about every critic’s pre-season prediction. The MOTD2 team would talk about West Ham having a thin squad whilst battling on two fronts. David Moyes would take about circumstances. 

Poppycock. Brentford weren’t whinging when our paper thin set up was decimated by injury or covid. So let’s get some kudos where it is due. For yours truly, the glass remains as full as ever. The wheels may already be coming off the super-computer’s predictions about the bottom three (although if Leeds Untied could fall apart, again, that would be amazing) but as everything else outside of Lionel Road is only a distraction, let’s not hold too much to that for now.

The player review is now up and can be found here as published.

For now here’s to a happy Monday and then we can start prep for Watford. I’m already full of anticipation for that one. See you there.

The gap at the bottom is growing

Nick Bruzon

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

Could this be the shock of the weekend? Or is it now expected?

14 Oct

We’re back. Brentford host league leaders Chelsea this weekend with another international break done and the chance to see if we can build on the quite wonderful performances at home to Liverpool and then, last time out, away at West Ham. Final thoughts on those are in the forthcoming edition of the matchday programme (along with other nonsense, subject to editorial discretion, including one covid related tale of woe). Alternatively, the previous columns from these pages are here (Liverpool) or here (West Ham) for those wanting one more look back at what happened as the games unfolded and the aftermath was very much enjoyed. It all seems a lifetime ago already. There’s been a trip to Gibraltar for the World Cup qualifier with Montenegro in between and now, of course, we have the prospect of a visit from the European Champions.

West Ham away – wonderful. Especially the 94th minute

“We’re coming for you. We’re coming for you. Champions of Europe. We’re coming for you.” Thus went ‘that’ song. Ad-nauseam it felt at the time, as the Bees prepared for a 2013 FA Cup tie against the Stamford Bridge outfit. A strong opposition were held 2-2 at Griffin Park, with a late equaliser from Fernando Torres sparing Chelsea from copious amounts of egg on face.

For me, Clive, of course it was an exciting build but oh that song went on. And on. Much like Oldham’s. Focus on f’ing promotion rather than singing to opposition that weren’t even there, listening or gave a monkey about what was happening in League One.

Chelsea were almost given the elbow at Griffin Park in 2013

That was then. This is now. Better form in the FA cup, several seasons in the Championship and our own reaching the Premier League mean that as it stands games like this are the norm rather than ad-hoc flashes in the pan demanding their own song. A blistering start to top flight life means we’re currently sitting 7th (seventh) in the table. A win would put Brentford just one point behind the leaders and whilst, in theory, that sounds about as far fetched an aspiration as they come, the season has already been packed with more drama and wonderful performances than an episode of Dream Team. Get warmed up, lads.

Much missed. Especially former Bee Andy Ansah

Arsenal. Beaten. Liverpool. Held in that epic 3-3. West Ham. Crying. Wolves. Humped. Raya. Gloves needed changing. Only one defeat and that in the final minute of Brighton’s gamesmanship masterclass. The new signings bedding straight in, Kris Ajer especially, whilst Yoanne Wissa is already well en-route to becoming a cult hero. Come for the late goals. Stay for the celebration.

It has been quite the incredible start to a season that has seen this little bus stop in Hounslow punching above the weight and expectation levels of just about everybody outside TW8. Those inside the circle knowing what we can do and what to expect, even if at times it does seem against the realms of probability. That Liverpool game being the quintessential example of our never say die attitude and desire to attack until the death. The one time we’ve played super cagey, the last quarter of Brighton’s visit, our undoing had an almost Bees like inevitability about it. It’s Brentford, innit.

Wiiissssaaaaaaa. As calm as Peter Gilham isn’t

That’s not to say we’ll turn up and beat Chelsea. Cripes, if the fixtures so far have been tough then this is next level. A quick check on my Fantasy Football squad this morning is a bleak reminder of the strength they have in depth, let alone the starting XI. Whichever one they opt to go with.

For Brentford, subject to injury –  Shandon Baptiste’s shoulder being the primary concern – its a safe bet who will start this one. As ever. Thomas Frank has enjoyed the luxury of his preferred starting XI playing to such a level that the only real selection decision has been who to bring on and when. Thomas Tuchel could probably chuck the car keys in a bowl and still come up with a team that the bookies would fancy to romp home. 

Indeed, the Bees are this morning priced at 26/5 to take all three points. As ever, nobody gives us a real chance. No surprise. Our opponents are as strong as they come. Their record and consistency over the last twenty years speaks for itself. If we’ve hit the ground running then they’re next level. Romelu Lukaku looks like he’s never been away whilst only Manchester City have taken a win off them. So far. 

Which is what makes football just the exciting thing it is. Nobody gave us a hope against Liverpool. There was similar from the other 6 games. We know what we’ve done and what we can achieve when all guns are firing. The funnest season ever is now cranking up even more, reaching previously unimaginable levels. That final moment at West Ham was about as good as things got. Now to see if we can pick up where we left off.

Of course it’s going to be tough. Some might say nigh on impossible. But if that’s the approach then why bother turning up? Genuinely, I’m convinced we will do this. As we’ve been saying all season, forget the calibre and reputation of the opposition. Play the moment. Play the game. Play as we’ve played so far. Of course we HAVE to be aware of who we are up against but there’s a distinct difference between being respectful and being in awe. 

I can’t wait for this one. Quelle surprise. Even that game at the Victoria Stadium to see Gibraltar go down 3-0 to Montenegro now feels second fiddle. Fun though it was. The home side weren’t given a prayer in that one, either, but I’ve got a rock solid belief we’re going to pull a few more pants down on Saturday evening.

If nothing else, this is a West London derby. THE West London derby. Move over Fulham. See you later Loftus Road. Brentford and Chelsea are currently the two best placed clubs, not only in this quarter but the entire capital. Bring it on and see you there.

International football provided relief in the absence of Premier League action

Nick Bruzon

West Ham undone by El Scorcho from Wissa.

4 Oct

Just magnificent. An epic finish of biblical proportions. Brentford head into international break with another win under the belt. Just when you thought it wasn’t possible to even come close to Liverpool last week, we went and did this. The latest moment of joy, a 2-1 defeat of West Ham at the Olympic Stadium that was as deserved as it was late. Surviving wave after wave of second half pressure, it was that man Wissa who popped up to fire home the winner in front of the Bees faithful with virtually the last kick of the game. The visiting fans went absolutely nuts. The home support in meltdown. Oh for a Rio Ferdninad or John Colby to have got in the way for them. Instead it was another three points earned, up to 7th (seventh) and now two weeks before we welcome Chelsea to Lionel Road.

Yesssss. Wiiiiissssaaaaaaaa!!!!

What a win. What a start. With Ajer missing and Janelt replaced during the warm up, Thomas Frank saw his plans further hampered by a shoulder injury to Shandon Baptiste. Yet this season is as much about strength in depth and the Bees played like a side posessed. Solid at the back but starting on the front front. Mbeumo hitting the top of the bar with minutes before scoring not long after. A fine break from Canos saw his shot only parried and there was Bryan to steer it over the line. ‘Keeper Fabianski shovelling it clear but the goal had already been chalked up, with VAR going through a momentary act of agreement.  

Twenty minutes gone and a goal up. An effort that was reflective of our dominance. A game that was threatening to be much akin to our solitary defeat, that by Brighton, where we had all pressure and no end product. This was different. Roared on by a packed and passionate away contingent, the Bees had gone for it from the off. Pushing men forward and breaking with pace. Rock solid at the back. It might have been double. The home side might have had some cheer but a header from Zouma was about as good as it got. 1-0 Brentford at half time and, despite the enforced substitutions, looking great value for the lead.

VAR confirms what the ref had already seen

And then the second half started. David Moyes can only have delivered the mother of all rollickings whilst the orange segments were being served up because his team re-emerged with with purpose by the bucketload. The manager losing his shit on the touchlines (more than once – here’s the ball…) and his team actually breaking with intent. Yet, somehow, the Bees held firm. Blocks, deflecting, fine saves. It was heart in mouth time as West Ham pushed and probed. 100 yards from the action the supporters giving it their all. Willing the Bees on to hold firm and we almost did. Almost. The clock running down with snail paced movement until, with 80 minutes gone, there was Bowen to fire home the equaliser through a crowd of defenders and inside the near post. It looked side netting from where we stood, binoculars primed by those in the upper tier, but alas it was in. Urghh. Look at what we could have won.

West Ham fans exploding with delight. Bubble machines making a half-arsed attempt to parp out their wares in cringe inducing celebration. Who needs gimics? Whatever. 1-1 and the Hammers continuing to push. Brentford, somehow, hanging in there. Three minutes of time added on and then, deep into this additional period a free kick awarded. Into the box we went. All of us barring goalkeeper Raya. Pontus with the sweetest of connections but once again Fabianski was there to get it clear. Not clear enough. It fell to the edge of the box where the unmarked Wissa kept his cool and despite a man bearing down on him, slammed a scorcher straight back from where it came with interest. Boom. Fabianksi no chance. The net billowing. Limbs. Scenes. Celebrations. Call it what you want, the first team piling on to each other. Even Raya running up to join in. The supporters united in ecstasy. Not knowing whether to celebrate with the team or the home fans stood just to our left who had been giving it large all game. Pantomime villains for 90 minutes and resorting the the role of petulant schoolboys.

Oh football. This is why we love it so much. There was barely time for the restart before the ref called it game over. An incredible ending to a wonderful game. Wissa immense. The balls on that man to connect so well but really it was more than him. It was all round effort. Another top, top team performance. If Liverpool had been amazing, this was up there for different reasons. There’s nothing finer than a last gasp winner and it was one that came in what was an archetypal game of two halves. It’s West Ham, innit? You almost had to feel for the home support. Almost.    

Brentford now three points off second placed Liverpool and a further off the top of the table. Our opening salvo of 12 from 7(seven) games perhaps beyond even the wildest dreams. Nobody gave us a prayer yet here we are again. West Ham the latest to be hit by the runaway bus. A huge arena silenced. The list of achievements that bedecked the middle tier to our left – 1964 FA Cup Winners… 1965 European Cup Winner’s Cup… 1966 World Cup winners – nothing but a reel of the past. A team with an impressive list of former glories but unable to match the moment when it came. Wissa rounding off an afternoon that will live long in the memory.   

West Ham. Winners ( in one respect)

Now , time to catch the breath. A few weeks off. Hopefully the injuries won’t be a severe as first feared although Baptiste’s shoulder, since confirmed as dislocated, isn’t the sort of thing you can just run off in five minutes. One can only imagine it’s going to be a prolonged period of time spent with our old friend, the anti-gravity treadmill.

Until then, time to reflect on about as exciting start to Premier League life as it is possible to have hoped for. It’s been nothing but fun and yesterday, following on from Liverpool the game before, had it all. Top flight football. Opponents steeped in history. Rival fans giving it their all. The bus stop in Hounslow doing it for fun. West Ham pointless. Brentford leapfrogging them in the table and another win under the belt.

Fair to say that top flight life is good. Long may it continue like this. Brentford proving that reputations count for nothing. Ours included. We ARE tinpot. We ARE a bus stop. We ARE put together through shrewd acquisition and team spirit rather than big money buys. And? We know it. We don’t, actually, care. The sooner other teams get used to it and play the 11 in front of them rather than the preconception then the easier they may find it. Until then, keep writing us off all day long.

That was a lot of fun. A lot..

Nick Bruzon

We’re going to need a Biggar boat.

1 Oct

Next stop on the Premier League express, the Olympic Stadium. Brentford travel to West Ham United this Sunday afternoon for a 2pm kick off against a team we’ve not played competitively since 1993. Compared to some of those we’ve already taken points from this season (Arsenal and Liverpool, where league fixtures were nothing more than a relic of the 1940s, we’re looking at you) that’s fairly recent. Relatively speaking. Back then in our solitary second tier season under Phil Holder, 0-0 at Griffin Park was followed up a 4-0 drubbing / kicking in East London that saw the slide back to (now) League One continue its inexorable momentum. Mind you, the game before and Ray Biggar doing his thing in the 1-1 draw with Notts County – a ball breaking amount of mystery time ‘added on’ until the Magpies levelled it up on about +8 that anyone there will never, ever forget – was enough to destroy whatever fragile confidence we had left. 

Upton Park / The Boleyn Ground. Whatever. It all ended the same way

That was then. This is now. Just as we have VAR to help the ref and time boards raised by the fourth official in order to let us know exactly how long there is to squirm through, we’ve also got a squad that’s ten times better than any we’ve had before. And that includes teams that have been in play offs. Brentford are on fire and playing for fun. The only points dropped being the 90th minute smash and grab at home to Brighton. Unbeaten on the road and still smiling off the back of our most recent performance, the 3-3 with Liverpool last Saturday evening. A game of gargantuan proportions that saw the mother of all footballing battles. Ivan Toney denied an 87th minute winner by the Lino’s flag which, whilst the correct decision, for a moment sent Bees’ fans into even greater states of delirium than those giddy highs already reached.

It was about as far away a moment as just about anything we’ve ever experienced. Playing a Premier League game against a full strength Liverpool side. The league leaders going behind c/o Ethan Pinnock and then twice being pulled back when it looked like they should accelerate out of sight. Brentford brilliant. Everyone playing at 110%. No let up. And that was just the crowd. The atmosphere immense with on pitch commitment to match. The Anfield outfit coming out the other side knowing we aren’t just going to make up the numbers and any walkover they may have expected was as far from the truth as the popularity of Mrs. Brown’s Boys.

What pressure? Calm as you like against Liverpool

Of course, we can’t live completely in the past. Beating Arsenal. Blitzing Wolves at Molineux. Holding Liverpool. All well and good. All brilliant. All amazing. I wouldn’t trade any of it but now it is done. The stuff of memory. Use it to inspire us and learn from but don’t just think that because we’ve done the business so far, everyone else is going to roll over. That we’ll turn up and win. Very much a case of dragging out the cliches and taking each game as it comes. Which takes us full circle to the first line – our trip to West Ham United. The BIAS supporter’s boat is about to set sail once more. This time, for a rematch with Said Benrahma. A game against a team very much doing the business at present. Penalty based substitutions aside. Seriously? That was never going to work.       

Last night’s defeat of Rapid Vienna continuing fine form that domestically sees the Hammers as one of only eight teams better placed than Brentford in the football pyramid. Michail Antonio is grabbing the goals and the headlines. Declan Rice busting guts to do his thing. The team flying. The talismanic Algerian Benrahma finding a regular place, form that we are so familiar with from his time at Brentford and the goals starting to come too. West Ham will be as tough as anyone we’ve played so far. The atmosphere as intense. The teething troubles from the early days in their new home, seemingly consigned to the past. Supporters about as passionate as they come and even a few who have donned that most odious of items, the half and half scarf. Metaphorically and for real. Well, now’s the time to drop (or grow) your balls and pin those colours to the mast.   

Said (in pre-lockdown mode). As popular now as he was then for us

October 2021. Brentford on a Premier League roll. Its a long, long way from the lower leagues. From Leroy Rosenior, Terry Butcher et al. From fans raising funds to keep us afloat. From finally escaping the third tier and celebrating the achievement by replacing our leading scorer with, err, Murray Jones. From Ray Biggar helping send us back from where we had come. After years of hard work, shrewd investment, even shrewder strategy and a lot of patience we are now at the place we’ve aspired to be for so, so long. Inside the tent pissing out rather than the other way round. There’s no way anyone is going to willingly give any of this up. It’s just been too much fun so far. 

Sunday is going to be hard as, no question, but its another step in an incredible journey and I can’t wait. However you travel – tube, train or boat be safe. Certainly avoid the road. Fuel wankers aside, the London marathon means there are closures just about all over town.

See you there.

Biggar – perhaps the programme editor’s typo upset him

Nick Bruzon