Tag Archives: 4-1

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  

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

Might City take a tumble? Could we go top ten?

9 Feb

After the euphoria of Saturday’s 4-1 FA Cup victory, time for a massive dose of reality and coming back down to earth with a bump. Manchester City may have breezed into the fifth round at the weekend but their challenge tonight is as tough as it comes when Brentford make another trip to the North-West for a Premier League fixture. Just as for Frank Lampard’s Everton, who discovered that the same level of high scoring success in the pursuit of Wembley may not translate to the league when they were thumped at Newcastle United. Defeat for Watford at West Ham, whose selection of cat kicking Kurt Zouma was about as shameless as it gets given the words out of the club and manager David Moyes, and another draw for Burnley mean that the bottom three, or even five, remain relatively detatched. Whilst some Brentford fans are feeling the angst about getting potentially sucked into that pack, the simple fact is that victory over Manchester City by 9 goals or more will see us back in the top ten. Simple.

Granted, you can’t bet on higher than a 5-0 victory for Brentford or more than six goals being scored in total (at least, not on my bookmaker’s site). Even then the odds of 250-1 and 5-1 respectively suggest that victory by the magic margin may be something best confined to the realms of wishful thinking. The Manchester City squad one which runs so deep that even if they picked Mr. Tumble, you’d still expect the bookies to back them.

Pick him, Pep. Please

Thomas Frank would use his press conference yesterday to outline the challenge although also acknowledging the fact that, “It’s still 11 vs 11 tomorrow night. We are looking forward to a massive challenge, maybe our biggest of the season, but it is about believing that you can get something out of it and giving it a massive go.”

He was also savvy enough to note that, “If we go and get something out of the match it’ll be one of the biggest surprises in this year’s Premier League. Manchester City are the clear number one in the league, playing some brilliant football and having a fantastic season“.

This, very much, the expectation from just about everyone outside TW8. It is a free hit of a game. On paper a seemingly impossible task in a match with nothing to lose, barring the presumed result, and everything to gain.  Manchester City are league leaders and champions. Expected to romp home. To pick up where they left off against Fulham on Saturday afternoon. It’s a shame the EFL club were unable to offer any real resistance to City. Even to take them to extra time. But there you go.

Indeed, if there was any consolation to take from our own thing at Frank Lamp etc etc (we’ll take that as assumed from now on) Everton, it was that at least our torture was over in regulation time. There was no dragging it out any longer. No extended runout for a largely first choice XI.  Likewise, the returns of David Raya and that wonderful cameo from Josh Dasilva late on. Christian Eriksen is not available for selection as yet (in itself, about as bizarre a statement as one might have considered commiting to paper at the start of the season) but Yoanne Wissa and Bryan Mbeumo are both back in contention after missing out at Goodison Park.  

Christian remains in training, for now

For those expecting a change in formation, keep on waiting. Thomas also using his conference to confirm that the three centre back set up remains for now. It is more how we get the best out of it. With no word given on Ethan Pinnock – that I saw – short of this being some double bluff then one would expect things to remain as they were on Saturday. Hopefully the set piece coach has done his thing in training. With opposition corner kicks being the equivalent of a penalty kick at present, such is the ease with which goals come, the ability to head the ball (and outwards) will be crititcal. For all we were talking up the rewards that racing to and and past brackets could afford Brentford in terms of table position by full time, the simple fact of the matter is that unless we’ve upped our defensive game rapidly since the Everton debacle, it could be City relying on the abacus to keep track.

For what its worth, I’m expecting a ten times better performance tonight. Win, lose or draw this is about as big as it gets. As hard as it comes. Manchester City away is always the toughest game of a campaign for any other side, let alone a team who have never played at this level before. Then again, perhaps going into it without the baggage of past experience  – given that for most other sides that experience is usually a brutal one – is the best weapon up our sleeves.

If anything, it is our performances against the top teams that have seen Brentford at their very best. Whilst the trips to Burnley, Southampton and Everton have been amongst the real low points, faced with top six opposition the opposite has been true. The Bees raising their game to quite wonderful levels against Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. Blitzing Man United in that first half before eventually being outplayed and, of course, that wonderful win at West Ham – Wissa’s late, late winner still up there with my favourite moments of the season. As much for the reaction of the home support just to our left. Meow!!

A shame the club didn’t share the same passion for animal rights but, there you go.

West Ham away – wonderful. Especially the 94th minute

Even the visit from Manchester City in December only saw them win it by the odd goal in one. Again, there had been early chances for Brentford before our opponents showed their class and speed to break down the other end and open us up as easily as a can of baked beans. 0-0 and on the backfoot became 0-1 in a matter of seconds. Close but no cigar.

Will tonight be any different? Nobody gives us a prayer, that’s for sure. Whether blind optimism is enough to carry us through or Thomas Frank has something special up his sleeve will become clear when things start at 7.45 pm.

Bring it on !

There’d be scenes to rival this moment if we can get a result tonight

Nick Bruzon

Josh a rare Raya sunshine on an otherwise dreadful day.

6 Feb

At least we can concentrate on the league…. There you go. Tick. That said, it would be nice if Brentford could concentrate on actual defending because dial in anywhere near that level of backline based ineptitude against Manchester City on Wednesday night and it’s going to get grammatical (if you know what I mean). Do we need to spell it out? Brackets!! Brentford gave Frank Lampard the most generous of debuts as Frank Lampard’s Everton went through to the FA Cup fifth round on Saturday afternoon. A 4-1 victory for the Toffees the result that, as ever, doesn’t tell half the story. Thankfully. Lampard given the warmest of welcomes by the Bees in the most miserable of conditions. It was wretched. Dismal. Dank. Overcast. The weather was shite too, matching the performance of our centre backs as the goals rained in.   

Two goals conceded from corners. Nobody moving to try and direct the ball outwards for either.  The second corner in particular an absolute horror show as Mads Bech elected to head the ball goalwards and right into the path of Mason Holgate – one of several unmarked players btw. The Everton man making no mistake from close in but, then again, presented such an opportunity even Ian Moose might have come close to an early birthday present (tomorrow is the day). Possibly. 

If you pause the highlights, you can see the defensive masterclass in full effect

It was the nail in the coffin of a relatively even game which Ivan Toney had pulled us back into with a trade mark penalty for 2-1 down and then come painfully close to levelling things up. Brentford had been in the ascendency at that point. The travelling support sensing the chance to reassert ourselves into a cup tie that had looked like getting away from us.

This, after Yerry Mina had been left unchallenged in a first half corner routine and danger man Allan (hey, we did say before) freed Richarlison to burst clear with the second half barely minutes old. David Raya (not a typo !!!!!!) in nets left cruelly exposed and despite rushing off his line, unable to stop the lead being doubled.

Raya was back – and played the whole game

Ah yes, David Raya. The cheer from the few Brentford fans pitch side when his name was announced at 2pm (the crowded vomitories a much better idea in hindsight) was louder than anything our hosts mustered most of the game. It was a strangely lacklustre atmosphere, with the singing not even starting until the third goal had rained in. Not even as the teams entered the pitch to the shrill whistling of the theme tune from TV’s Z-Cars. Dogs left howling at the moon all around Goodison.

It should have set the mood for the messiah but instead, the mood felt more one of caution amongst a fanbase who hadn’t seen their team take the lead since October 23rd 2020. They needn’t have worried. It’s Brentford, inniit. Our defending of – and also, for the record, taking – set pieces as atrocious as it comes. And has been for much of the season. Long throws are predictable. Free kicks tepid. Corners need to be headed clear. Not watched. 

Ethan Pinnock had been named initially at 2pm before going awol when the players came out and the team sheet recirculated. No idea what happened here. Late Covid test ( sadly, Bryan also missed out after testing positive for the dreaded c word  once more)? Dressing room bust up? Fat fingered typos from ‘official’? Whatever the reason, his aerial presence was missed. Much like our attempts to head the ball clear. Mads and Pontus amongst those who really won’t want to watch this one back but should be forced to, in full. Twice.

Now you see him, now you don’t

Poor Alvaro Fernandez. The stick he has taken. Understandably for a lot of it (oh, that Liverpool backpass thing alone) but perhaps not just down to one man as the frenzied mob on Twitter may have you believe.

Look, at least David Raya was back. Being honest, I didn’t expect him. Surely this was too soon with just 60 minutes of a friendly under his belt? Apparently not. Seeing him warm up was reason alone to brave the elements rather than go backstage for that prematch pint. Oh, the throws, The catches. The confidence. His distribution once things got going for real was reason enough to feel the optimism coursing through the veins even moreso than usual. That we were back to our old selves.  Then he was sold up the river as the midfield and defence invited Everton to help themselves.

The other huge plus point was the return of Josh Dasilva. My word, his twenty minute cameo late on was about as welcome as they get. Not just the relief in seeing him back out there for the first time this season but, like David Raya, the comfort with which he slipped straight back in. The excitement he engenders. The optimism he inspires. That ‘next level’ movement on the ball. “Shoooot’ implored the crowd as he worked it round the edge of a crowded penalty box. Alas, it didn’t come this time. Instead, the net only rippled at the other end when Andros Townsend was invited to administer one final, injury time kick to the private parts of the Brentford faithful. Down and now very much out. Out of the cup. Out of the game. Out of the misery of desperately hanging on for a late goal then last gasp blitzkrieg assault. Of David Raya heading home for 3-3 on 90+4.

Ahh. One can dream. Instead, we endured a living nightmare.

Look – I hate to put the boot into our team. We’ve made the step up to top flight football with a largely Championship side (Kris Ajer aside). We’ve mostly held our own, too. I don’t care for getting upset about our transfer policy. Keep on shouting into the echo chamber of social media, kids. It won’t change what or how we do things. It certainly won’t change the ability of those players out there to show some guts. Show some fire in the belly when under the cosh.

And they didn’t do that yesterday. Not even close.

Everton were there for the taking. Instead, we offered them hope, comfort and the ball. They took all three gifts and fully deserved to win the game. You could see them grow from strength to strength as the Bees became shakier and shakier. No sour grapes there. Well played. I just wish Brentford could have done similar.

sledgehammer like unsubtlty to show how shaky we were

The other way to look at this was that the game was a ‘free hit’. True, we’ve fuelled the Frank Lampard hype train which nobody needs (and it will be interesting to see if this goes on to become a flash in the pan or solid foundations) but haven’t, actually, dropped any points. If we were going to go ‘full abject’ then at least this was the time to do it rather than when chasing a top ten finish.  

The league table still sees us in 14th place with Watford and Burnley drawing 0-0 in their much postponed game last night. We’ve got another free hit on Wednesday evening with the trip to Manchester City. Nobody outside TW8 expects anything of us given their all conquering squad, form and current performance levels. The team are 9 points clear at the top of the Premier League with Liverpool the closest to think about about trying to hang on to their coat tails. They’ll win the league at a canter. You don’t need to be Nostradmus to see that. The only question being if Brentford can possibly slow them down.

Play like this and there’s no hope. It’ll take more than Josh, David and Christian Eriksen (who only arrives in West London today). Forget the set piece coach. We might need an actual coach on the goal line. Yet if Thomas can do his usual ‘dwell on it for 24 hours only’ thing then move on, who knows what might happen? We’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain. This is the chance to truly test ourselves at the very highest level. On the toughest of stages. 

Don’t expect any formation rejig. Three CB has been the way we’ve played all season – and the back end of last.

Manchester City away is not the place to experiment.

Manchester City away IS the place to up your performance levels and, at Everton, they were sub zero. 

No more said. We all know. We were all there (well, 2.300 of us). We’ve all seen the highlights although here if you want to torture yourself again they’re here. We can’t change what happened. We can change what comes next. 

Now bring on City.  

It all looked so good pre kick off

Nick Bruzon

A brutal evening ends with a reset needed for Sunday.

12 Jan

Where to even start with any of that ? Brentford were humped 4-1 at Southampton in a game that saw a sub-Burnley level of frustration. Even Vitaly Janelt comparing it to Brighton in his own post match comments to ‘official’. In a season packed with so many giddy highs, this truly was as moribund and frustrating an experience as they come. Moreso, given that on paper the return of Kris Ajer and a central midfield of Janelt, Norgaard and Baptiste should have given us as strong a heart as they come. Instead, there was no answer to the hosts combination of fast pressing and long balls forward. With Liverpool next up on Sunday, dial in even half as close a performance – and the word is used in the loosest sense – and we’re going to be in trouble. Regardless of who they have missing at the African Cup of Nations.

Thomas acknowledges the fans at Full Time

We’ve all seen it, I’m sure. Whether through being there, the re-run that began at 9pm or via the video highlights that are now online. Go dig them out, if you must. I have but wish I hadn’t. What felt painful last night looks even worse in the cold light of day. Southampton on top of us at all times and not giving Brentford any chance to breath. Pushing. Pressing. Chasing. Closing us down. Winning just about every second ball. The Bees adopting a much more zonal set up, in that we seemed to be playing in a different time zone. The fetid whiff of 2006/07 and Rosenior-Butcher hanging over the team like a bad smell. Defence awol. The freedom of Saint Marys being handed to our hosts time and again. My word, they punished us. Hard. 

The first goal conceded within minutes. A corner flicked over and through the entire Bees defence. Yes, it was a fast ball but nobody reacted. Nobody got close to even trying to attack it, Ivan Toney aside. He and Fernandez offering little resistance to Jan Bednarek. Urghhh. 

Yet then Brentford hit that little patch of hope. First Vitaly levelling up with the most exquisite left footed volley, his leg at right angles to the pitch, after picking out a ball from Bryan. Then, the same man forcing Fraser-Frster to go full stretch. Promising. Might we actually show the spirit seen so often? The fire and guts that hauled us back time and again when Liverpool came to visit? That roared us on to the last minute at West Ham? 

Err, no. Ibrahima Diallo ligning himself up for a shot on the edge of the box that was predictable as the outcome inevitable. Nobody charged him down or even tried. The merest of shrugs from Ethan as the ball went past another Fernandez dive that didn’t, quite, reach the ball (longer gloves needed? Better positioning?). Either way, he shouldn’t have been beaten on his inside post and even though saved by the post, the ball ricocheted straight into his hand and the back of the net. Urghhh. Hearts sank. Half time came. Surely we’d start at 100 mph? Surely?

Alas not. A long ball forward caught Pontus short. 3-1. A long ball forward caught Pontus short. 4-1. He wasn’t alone btw. The entire defence awol for most of the game. The nonchalant fannying around cross the box lucky not to hurt us further. A brief flurry at the end where Bryan, Wissa and Ivan came close was far too little, far too late.  An absolute 0 out of 10 performance from Brentford, even despite the ref moment of joy elicited by Vitaly’s goal  

The biggest challenge of all then being after full time and attempting to complete the usual post-match piece where we find the top five Brentford performers. Well, I’ve done it on the way home and you can find that here. Please do go take a look. Let us know who, if anyone , missed out or should  / could have been included.   

The positives, if we can, being that this was very much out of character. This is Premier League football where no game is easy. The gaps for a team off their game likely to be exposed even more easily than at any other level we’ve played before. Likewise, one absolutely needs to acknowledge Southampton’s desire. Their drive. Their refusal to give us an inch. The difference bing that when faced with this approach before (e.g . Chelsea, home) we’ve generally hung firm at the back and avoided the avalanche. Not this time. Oh for a T-Rex last night. Or a defence. Or the ability to take the ball to our opponents. 

It happened. Its over. It was one game. No matter how unpalatable it felt at the time. Let’s never talk of their goals ever again and, instead, hope Thomas can pick the boys up in time for Liverpool on Sunday. Hope he can give us the Brentford that travelled to Wolves and West Ham so wonderfully. Not this.

On the plus side, if Rasmus Ankersen was looking to impress his new consortium in charge at Southampton with talent they may be interested in then they’d have laughed him out the ground. The wonderful recruitment strategy he was so instrumental in at Brentford offered up nothing more than … well, we get it. No point dwelling further. The frustration around was evident last night. Having slept on it, one has to remember what this team can do when they are on it. 

Was Rasmus in the boardroom or on security?

Over to you Thomas. Can you get us back to our best for Liverpool?  One thing’s for sure, I can’t wait to find out. Bring it on and see you there.

In the meantime, that ‘heat of the moment’ post-match analysis is here. Go strap on a tin hat…

Nick Bruzon   

And the top five Brentford perfomers were…..

11 Jan

Southampton 4 Brentford 1. It was as bad as the score line suggests . It was a result which now presents yours truly with the somewhat dubious challenge of looking back at the game to try and find the top five performers for The Bees. Those players who will be looking to make a name for themselves at Liverpool on Sunday.

No celebrations at full time

Who made the list? Can anyone count themselves unlucky to have missed out? Has there been a glaring omission? Well, here you go……………. 

Bees keeper puts in killer performance as strikers blitz Boro’.

7 Feb

Where to even begin ? How about in my bed? Don’t turn away – it’s not like that. Genuinely, I woke in the middle of the night from a terrible dream. Fate had conspired to see us in the play-off final once more. We were playing Fulham once more. For reasons unknown our opponents had rocked up wearing Sumo suits so we couldn’t get near them. Keith Stroud choosing to ignore this flagrant breach of the rules. Despite the score being 2-2 with half an hour left, they then started scoring goals. 3-2. 4-2. Ten minutes to go, somebody changed channels and I woke with a jolt. I never found out if we won or otherwise. Whether the team was broken up after a second successive defeat at the W place. Yet what I will take from it was that it was horribly vivid. Felt devastatingly real. A combination of last season and that game at the Millennium rolled in to one. Thankfully, it was nothing more than nonsense. The yin to a quite incredible yang of our 4-1 win at Middlesbrough. Three points which see us leapfrog Swansea City and offered the opportunity of topping the table. Victory against Reading on Wednesday night, our game in hand, will see us overtake Norwich City at the summit. Cripes, this is getting exciting. 

It certainly was

Yet if anything, that dream has reminded me that settling for the play-offs is not an option this time around. I can’t go through that again and, the way this team are playing, I don’t think we’ll need to. That’s now 20 games unbeaten and one of the biggest potato skins on the calendar, Middlesbrough away, has been negotiated. Not only negotiated but sliced into the air and volleyed into the recycling bin. Brentford were immense. Magnificent. About as devastating as we get. Quite honestly, it could have been brackets. 4-1 doesn’t begin to even tell half the story of a game that was about as poles apart form that awful 0-0 at Lionel Road as it is possible to be.

If nothing else, how often do you see a 2 goal striker (Ivan Toney with another brace) in a scoreline of this magnitude miss out on Man Of The Match to the winning team’s goalkeeper. A goalkeeper who, move along nothing to see here, made a rare slip to gift our hosts a third minute own goal? It could have been curtains for Brentford yet just like the game with Bristol City during the week, it only served to inspire us. What came next was about as brilliant as it has been all campaign. 

Brentford pushed up. As did Middlesbrough, to be fair. Both teams going for broke and David Raya, having got whatever it was out of his system, playing just about the best game we’ve seen him have for The Bees. Brilliance and bravery in equal measure. Bolasie amongst those thwarted before Ivan Toney eventually levelled things up on 38. The goal had been coming and Tariqe Fosu was in no way offside – it was marginal, ok – as he took the ball from Ivan, cut down the flank and returned it into the box for the simplest of tap ins. Simple , of course, if you are on this sort of form. 

1-1 and Brentford on top. Another goal was imminent although it was Middlesbrough who should have had it. A point blank double save by Raya from Britt Assombalonga and then George Saville underlining the sort of game our number 1 was having. The net should have been rippling. Neil Warnock should have been hugging his assistant in delight. Thankfully for all of us, not least the assistant, we were spared that sight by the sheer, unadulterated brilliance from the Bees’ ‘keeper. He had no right to get even half-way close yet pulled it off. The goal intact, unlike his own more delicate parts. A very painful looking boot to the groin area the price to pay for keeping us alive. Ouch!!!

“PS: that hurt” – not my words but those of David Raya when he published this photo

Half-time couldn’t come quick enough. A chance to regroup. To dry off from the biblical downpour. To massage the more tender spots. To decide which way we would approach the second half. At full pelt was the answer. Just as we’d done against Wycombe and Bristol City, it was back out and fly at the opposition. With Raya pulling off his one man heroics whenever they had a sniff it gave us that belief to keep going for it. And what a way to do so.

Vitaly Janelt made it 2-1 on 58. A shot from the edge of the box so telegraphed that we were already shouting ‘Gooooallll’ before it even reached him. Ivan Toney teeing it up so beautifully that it looked like something out of a video game. The finish was equal to it. Hard and true to the bottom corner. My word. What a strike. What goal. What a team. He buried it with all the finesse of an undertaker. Bettinelli in nets left for dead. 

2-1 became 3-1 minutes later. This time it was Matthias Jensen who capitalised on a slip and raced clear from half-way. Brentford were 3 on 1 yet, if anything, he had too much time. What to do? Pass or continue? Shoot or round the keeper? He went with the later and despite defenders rushing back, there was no mistake made. It was cool as you like and one of the hardest of chances to take. I really thought he was going to Clayton it. Much as we absolutely loved Donaldson in our house, and still do, he would sometimes overthink the moment when clean through the middle and bearing down on the goalkeeper. Yet here was no faltering. No hesitation. No doubt. If there had been any nerves then they weren’t showing. Surely things were now safe?

Perhaps, but it didn’t stop Brentford from carrying on. Rico Henry saw a shot on goal tipped onto the woodwork by Bettinelli but the ball only found its way as far as Ivan Toney. On this form, there’s only one place its going to end up and that’s in the back of the net. Boom 4-1. Game over, man. Game over. Except even then, he could have had the hat-trick as he steered another just wide. Jensen could have grabbed a second as a shot from distance hit the post and went the wrong side. It was that strong an attacking performance although one matched by our hosts. They never stopped either and on another day, with a different keeper in the way, could well have got three or four themselves.

Smiling assassin Chuba Akpom coming close as did George Saville on a number of occasions. The later in particular crudely exposing himself as somebody who hasn’t been able to progress since his time at Griffin Park and, perhaps, going for the snatched attempt rather than the more patient approach when opportunity presented itself. The again, on this form I think that David Raya would have stopped a juggernaut. 

I’m not sure what else to say about this one, really. The excitement from the players on social media said it all. The genuine pleasure from Thomas Frank, who’d got so wet in the conditions he had to change jackets at half time, a joy to behold in his post match interview.

Twenty games unbeaten in the league a quite incredible run of form and one which only sees our team looking stronger and stronger. Nine points and 14 (seven times 2) goals from our last three games are quite amazing statistics for any team at any level. Norwich City surely looking over their shoulders now. Swansea City the third team in this two way tussle. Yet unlike last season, when our run was just a tad too late in the end, this time around we are moving early. We are destroying all in our path. We’re loving out football. Oh, I can’t wait for Reading on Wednesday. It won’t be easy and we shouldn’t be over confident. Very much a case of ‘each game as it comes’.

Equally though, let’s not deny ourselves the opportunity to enjoy watching this team at their best. To celebrate Brentford at their finest. Saturday at Middlesbrough was all about that. The play-off nightmare long since dissipated into the ether. Carry on like this and we won’t be having it again.

Whose coat was Thomas wearing…….?

Nick Bruzon

There are games of two halves and then there was that. Bees baked in Wales.

18 Feb

A day that started with such promise. An afternoon that saw us forty-five minutes away from an FA Cup quarter final. An evening that ended with a press of the self-destruct button the likes of which Brentford haven’t seen since, well, the trip to Hull or more pertinently, the opening twenty minutes of the home game with (erm) Swansea City. And it was the Swans who once more provided the catalyst to our undoing as Ollie Watkin’s magnificent opener was rendered meaningless by three second half goals and a red card for Ezri Konsa in little over a quarter hour phase. It ended 4-1 to Swansea. It could have been five but for a very delayed call from the linesman. What can you say? Beyond me having to console five year old HB after his own pre-match prediction of 3-4 was thrown back into his face in as dramatic a style as one could ever see.

It’s a fair bet we’ve all caught the game by now. The free to air broadcast on BBC Wales meaning that anybody who wasn’t able to travel on the resultant free coaches would have had ample opportunity to watch it live. It was the consummate example of that old cliche about football being a game of two halves. With the opening salvo from Swansea snuffed out at little more cost than a yellow card for Yoann Barbet, the Bees got going. In style.

DSC04158

Swansea had come forward early but made little progress

With the exception of Luke Daniels retaining his FA Cup place, Thomas Frank named the same team that tore Aston Villa apart for fun on Wednesday evening. It was a decision that was proven correct as we went for it. Swansea City barely had a look in as slick passing and wonderful interplay from the attacking quartet of Said, Sergi, Neal and Ollie suggested a goal was inevitable. When it came, on the half hour, it was beautiful. Benrahma breaking forward at pace, feeding the ball forward to Maupay on his right. The Frenchman then provided the same to the overlapping Watkins who burst into the box and fired it across the face of goal high into the far side of the net.

Yesssss !!! 1-0. We’re on our way. The fans erupted. Tinfoil trophies (of which there were plenty in evidence) thrust high into the sky. Strangers hugging strangers and the dream was on. Swansea looked dead on their feet. Impotent. A flaccid reminder of the team who had obliterated us in that opening twenty minute spell at Griffin Park back in December when they’d raced into a three goal lead without reply. Half time came with optimism high, the fans in wonderful voice and a chorus of boos rising around The Liberty stadium from the home contingent. Surely this was it? Surely….?

DSC04182

Yesss!!! 1-0. Ollie Watkins you beauty.

What happened at half-time will, forever, remain as unfathomable a mystery as Stonhenge, the Pyramids and Ian Moose’s narcissism. Brentford gave the appearance of a team who had forgotten how to play football. Graham Potter in the home dressing room, presumably, delivering the mother of all team talks. Either way, it was a different Swansea City who emerged.

They were level within five minutes from a free-kick awarded in the most dangerous part of Saunders territory. Daniels unable to reach the ball as it fizzed past him, hit the post but rather than bounce clear hit the back of his head as he was still diving and pinged back into the goal for 1-1. It was a hammer blow. It should have been a warning that we were now very much in a game. Alas, it got worse.

An immediate goalmouth scramble aside, there was little further response from, or respite for, Brentford. Daniel James gave the home side a 2-1 lead shortly after with a quite remarkable effort. Picking up the ball just outside our box, he ran full length and full tilt up field. The acceleration was incredible, even running wide at one point with three players left trailing in his wake, before turning back inside and leaving Luke Daniels, caught in no mans land, for dead. Hats doffed to James for pulling this one off. It was brutal. With it, any remaining psychological stuffing that had been left after the unfortunate o.g. was truly knocked out of us.

Minutes later that man James broke clear once more. This time, he was stopped. But at the expense of a red card for Ezri Konsa as the defender took the last desperate measure available to him in order to try and preserve the narrow deficit. Referee Stuart Atwell has no choice but to show the red card. It was a challenge that, at least, succeeded in the aim of keeping our opponents at bay. For five minutes.  Sergi Canos, again filling in at wing back, was played twice by Bersant Celina who also danced past Julian Jeanvier before slotting home for 3-1. Urghh.

DSC04233

Even the scoreboard was trolling us

With the attacking threat of Benrahma and Canos removed just moments later as the substitutes came on, the game was effectively dead. If it hadn’t been already. If Thomas had gone almost full strength with his starting XI, the bench offered little in big game experience or match saving nous. Whilst most of these young players will have their time, throwing them in to a game that was only being kept alive on life-support was never going to change anything. And , sadly, it didn’t. 3-1 became 4-1 became 3-1 as the linesman eventually intervened. It made little difference with Swansea grabbing the fourth goal that their second half domination suggested would come as the game limped towards full time.

Even then, Neal Maupay had a chance to restore some pride. His decision to chip the ‘keeper when put through, not quite coming off as the beaten Bees saw it loop over the bar. He made a call. He tried his luck. It didn’t happen. Boo-hoo. The subsequent highlighting of this by the BBC in a standalone video clip entitled , “How did he miss this? Watch Maupay’s terrible effort for Brentford” as cheap, unnecessary and out of context a feature as Ian Moose talking about that Cardiff game last season. No recognition of his quite incredible form this campaign or when it actually happened, with the players physically and emotionally drained after an absolute pummelling. 

Likewise, no mention of what he was clearly feeling as he ran to the Brentford fans at full time to hand over his FA Cup shirt to one lucky supporter. Poor show, BBC. Keep up the wonderful work, Neal.

It was an awful experience to be part of. The second half, I mean. I had tears to cope with at full time from a distraught HB who managed to compose himself and eventually clap his heroes off, despite the clear upset he felt. Looking around, he wasn’t alone. The club’s magnanimous gesture of laying on the coaches and cheap tickets felt very much secondary at that juncture.

I’m gutted this morning. Even now after trying to sleep on it. Swansea ran the second half show ; we handed them the tickets. The dream of the cup quarter-finals disappearing as quickly as it came. HB’s tin foil trophy stuffed into a dustbin on the way home.

Talking to supporters after the game, there seemed to be very much an expectation that this column was going to be used to ‘put the boot in’ today. But I just can’t do it. To coin that well worn of parental phrases, it not so much that I’m angry as disappointed in you. The chance was there and we couldn’t take it. Instead, to collapse in a combination of errors, bad luck, subsequent no-show and of course, the pace of Daniel James has left me feeling broken. A numb feeling in the pit of the stomach that will pass with time but at the moment feels far, far too raw.

I’m just hoping HB uses his half-term break to sleep in. About a week should do it….

Nick Bruzon