Tag Archives: Arsenal

Video nice and video nasty suggest a special dish will be on the menu.

10 May

Another day, another vote. We wrote yesterday about the almost impossible choice facing anybody making their Brentford player of the year selection. Such have been the performances this season there are a genuine half-dozen candidates who could lay claim to the award. Now, with just Everton (a) and Leeds United (h) to go, we’re almost at the end of the line. There’s still a ton of excitement to come – and the resurfacing of ‘that’ video yesterday has only served to further stoke supporter intrigue in all things Elland Road (that’s the polite term) – with the hope paramount that we’re all channeling our inner Joy Division next Sunday. That is, assuming Neal Maupay and Brighton don’t get there first this weekend.

Could Neal do it, again

First up, the player of the year vote. For what its worth I’ve gone David Raya. There seems to be a lot of noise for Christian Norgaard too. Both magnificent candidates. As are all the other names on a shortlist where Rico Henry, Ivan Toney and Christian Eriksen seem to be amongst the other names of those leading the charge.

It really is a case where car keys in the bowl would be just as fair a mechanism for selecting the winner though. They’ve all been incredible and this is, without a doubt, the toughest vote ever. My thoughts on the runners and riders, to coin a phrase, are in yesterday’s piece – along with the Southampton post-match debrief and our own season long ‘top five’.

Then, on Monday, another vote dropped. Like standing at a bus stop you wait ages and then two come along at once. This time, the goal of the season.

What a choice this one is. A shortlist of 11 that is dominated by two players. The technical brilliance of Vitaly Janelt at Southampton. His pair agasint Chelsea also included. Then there’s Wissa. Liverpool. Aston Villa. Oldham in the cup. And, of course, that amazing moment against West Ham. Oh, the hairs on the back of my neck are tingling just thinking about that one. About just how incredible it was.

West Ham away – wonderful. Especially the 94th minute

Then there’s Sergi Canos. He scored our first top flight goal of the season. You know? That night we beat Arsenal and went top of the Premier League. Don’t @ me. The table doesn’t lie.

If Wissa was incredible for the timing and the celebration, this one was at home and that mass out pouring of joy. It wasn’t a bad finish either, with a personal celebration to match.

Sergi very much enjoys the moment…

The vote is live now. As with the POTY awards, all you need is a fan number and a surname to take part. Much as I was tempted by Ajer against Southampton or Saman up at Burnley, for me it is a straight fight between Sergi and Wissa at West Ham.

However, that’s me. Vitaly’s precision and technique are more than worthy of recognition – just which of the three ? Good luck sorting through all of this but at least it’s fun doing so. The video is below.

And talking of videos, a segue as subtle as the ‘jokes’ in Mrs. Brown’s Boys, if ever inspiration was needed for the Everton and Leeds United games (it isn’t) then we were given a helpful reminder from Elland Road yesterday. A helpful reminder that revenge is a dish best served cold. A reminder, that there could be something very special on the menu next Sunday.

We were all saving it. We were all keeping our powder dry. But we’ve all started sharing it. And Monday seemed to be ‘Mind the Gap’ reminder day. Sometimes, there is no real comment needed. No point waxing lyrical for pages. Just remember that even Leeds United ‘official’ shared it before hastily changing their minds….

I am sure that Thomas Frank and all those in an official capacity at Brentford will remain tight lipped in the build up to this one and maintain a stance of nothing more than looking to finish the season with a win. For Brentford fans, we all know what this would mean. Not just the video but the ongoing arrogance and entitlement since our days together in League One. Oh, Ben Strevens xx

A season that has given so much since Sergi got the ball rolling against Arsenal back in August looks like it is going to go all the way to the wire.

And I cannot wait. If its good enough for Ivan then its good enough for me….

Hmm. Love will tear us apart, anyone? A game that was already laced with anticipation looks like it might have cranked up a level or three.

In the meantime, the post match debrief from the Southampton game is now up and online. Should anybody need any further food for though in picking their POTY then this may provide the calm before the storm.

Nick Bruzon

Just four games to go and fate is hanging in the balance

28 Apr

How things can change. Nine years ago it was one of the lowest points in our club history – the appearance on Soccer AM where we missed more penalty kicks than, well, we all know what happened later that afternoon against Doncaster Rovers….. At least we had the pleasure of seeing Frank Leboeuf being about as Gallic as they come. Charm personified (on and off camera) then puffing on a Gauloises the second he was out the studio. Likewise, there was a TV debut for our H – and he hadn’t even been born at that stage.

Now Brentford have four games to go in our first Premier League campaign with a top ten finish still well in sight. Next up, Monday evening’s trip to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United. With it, a chance to avenge their second half ‘smash and grab’ at Lionel Road in January . There will be half an eye on their game at home to Chelsea tonight although whether a full viewing will be allowed in our house after watching both Liverpool and Manchester City in some quite wonderful Champions’ league action remains to be seen. Three nights of football in a row will all depend on a combination of marital goodwill combined with whether Kirsty and Phil are currently loving it or listing it.

Hopefully no repeat of the Soccer AM ‘performance’

Still, if that’s the worst of our problems then sporting life is indeed good. There’s a gap of just three points in the table from Brentford in 12th to Newcastle in 9th. We’ve got a tantalising run-in to try and secure that wonderful finish. Manchester United (a), the visit of Southampton and then a chance of sealing a relegation.

First bite comes with the game at Everton before the season concludes with the visit of Leeds United. Watford’s abject form means it unlikely both can now go down, as earlier predicted by The Last Word super computer, but Everton look like a dead man walking whilst Leeds find their next three games against top four clubs in Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea. A haul of nil points is quite feasible from those and then, should the Toffees somehow find the means to reverse their form, there could be some very squeaky bums at Elland Road.

Its all ifs, buts and maybes of course. For me, Clive, the way Brentford have played since the return of David Raya and the arrival of Christian Eriksen / green jacket (delete as applicable) has been nothing short of wonderful. Unbeaten April – including the humping of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge – culminated in holding Tottenham on Saturday night. It was a game that I am sure, had he been watching, Dean Smith would have called Brentford as deserving to win. We didn’t, but the performance in adding another point to our haul was about as good as it gets. Up there with those wonderful moments against Arsenal, Liverpool, West Ham and Chelsea.

Chelsea away the highlight of a wonderful April

Indeed, but for the punishment inflicted by covid and injury around Christmas, who knows what might have been this season?  The manner of that last minute call off from Manchester United  – a few days after their own sub-Everton performance at Norwich City – one which still sticks in the craw even now. Even if it did save us a goalkeeping conundrum having to be solved. 

It certainly has felt like a campaign which has started and finished at 100mph after getting bogged down in the middle. The squad being used to the maximum and no panic buying. Those predicting doom and gloom when nobody came in have now been left with copious amounts of egg on face.

Nobody, that is, barring Christian Eriksen. A player for whom there aren’t sufficient words to describe how wonderful he has been. The primary focus being his own return to playing with the obvious benefit being what he has then got on to do for Brentford. Should Phil Gules, Matthew Benham et al persuade Christian his future lies with Brentford then who knows what next season might bring. Moreso if David Raya can borrow a pen from Pontus.

David has been key to our recent form

For now let’s focus on a top ten finish. Realistically, we’re looking at 10 points from 12, minimum, starting Monday. Only a fool would write off Manchester United, of course. Their form has been woeful – even Everton beat them the other week in what was one of the most dreadful games of football I’ve ever had the misfortune to witness. There is no comment needed on the toxic atmosphere pervading from all angles of Old Trafford. They limped past doomed Norwich City and shot themselves in the foot at every opportunity against Arsenal on Saturday. 

Can they use tonight’s game with Chelsea to salvage a last gasp stab at reaching the Champions’ League? Time is running out, that’s for sure. They’re six points, and inferior goal difference behind Arsenal with four to play. By the time Brentford visit, dreams of feasting at Europe’s top table could be all over.

All being well, the remote can be controlled for a third night in a row. It has been a cracking week of football for the neutral observer and tonight promises to be no different. Moreso given Brentford fans have a very vested interest in how things play out at Old Trafford.

Until then, the Tottenham player review (where the battle for our season long star man is going to the wire), is up here. Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon

He’s only got four fingers but he still knows what to do with his head.

27 Feb

When does a blip become a trend? When does a bad run of results become more of a worry? The first of three games against teams below Brentford saw a 2-0 win for Newcastle United at Lionel Road. It was as abject a showing as we’ve seen all season (certainly in my bottom five ‘performances’ ) with the only two positives being the performance of David Raya and the entrance of Christian Eriksen into the field of play. If you want some further straw clutching at good news, then the ongoing holes in the Leeds United defence and use of VAR at Everton were further bonuses on an afternoon of slim pickings. It’s not time to enter panic mode but it IS time to now start getting points on the board. Failure to do so against Norwich City next week or Burnley in a fortnight and things could look very different.

What a moment

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe pretty much nailed it at full time. “If you can’t win, don’t lose”. Certainly that was our approach going in to that recent run of games against the clubs chasing Europe, for all our defensive heavy tactics ended up fruitless. This was different. This was the chance to turn the screw and aim for three points at home. To ride the wave of optimism engendered by the return of Ivan Toney to the squad. By Josh Dasilva starting once more. By the promise that we would see Christian Eriksen make a debut. The chance for Brentford to take a home game by the scruff of the neck. Instead, it was an opportunity that saw the Bees fall flat on their collective faces. 

Referee Mike Dean didn’t help matters, that’s for sure. The red card shown to Josh Dasilva after just 11 minutes about the only thing he got right all afternoon and even that was a decision that had originally been given as a free kick to Brentford. Then VAR stepped in and, upon review, there can be few of us not wincing at a challenge which, whilst I am 100% sure was made with no ill intent, did not look pretty on the replay. The Bees down to ten men for the majority of the game and any early impetus gone in a flash.

Let’s not blame Mike Dean for our own failings, though. He didn’t help matters but Newcastle United wanted this 100 times more than we did. Their 26 shots (to our 6) and 63% possession (for an away team !!!) matched by their two first half goals. Indeed, were it not for David Raya who was absolutely dominant in goal for Brentford things could have ended up a heck of a lot worse. Joelinton magnificent with his head for the eventual opener. An absolute blinder with Ajer made to look invisible. Joe Willock finishing a rapier like counter attack just before half time after Jensen had delivered a Brentford corner so deep it needed its own scuba gear.

The players trooped off with ‘All Apologies’ playing out over the tannoy at half-time. Irony alive and well at Lionel Road where it was anything but a state of Nirvana. 

It was a case of All Apologies to the Brentford fans at half time

On the plus side, if there can be one, it perhaps accelerated the entrance of Christian Eriksen. What a moment. What a reception. Universal applause and good will. Not just in the stadium but , no doubt, further afield. The moment we’d been building to finally where. A standing ovation and the player straight in to the action in place of Jensen. Within a minute he might had opened Newcastle up. His game then demonstrating the passing and movement we’re all so familiar with and which could prove invaluable in the coming weeks. 

Sadly, it wasn’t quite enough but ten men are always going to struggle against opposition that stretched us further than the elastic on a pair of granddad’s pants. That were on their game and had their fans singing throughout. One song about Joelinton, to the tune of ‘She’s Electric’ on repeat after he’d bagged the opener. “He’s only got four fingers” ringing around Lionel Road again and again and again. 

Albeit subsequent post match discussion suggesting the line might, actually, have been a reference to his price tag. That’s what £40million gets you, I suppose.  

As for Brentford, hindsight is wonderful thing. The popular opinion being that Eriksen should have started from the off. Should have take the game to Newcastle and let them play catch up. Personally speaking, I’d have made the same call. Bring him on. We have an abundance of midfield options. Norgaard, Janelt and Dasilva in the middle with Roerslev at right wing back. Instead, we got the three of them plus Mathias Jensen (who should have been dropped after his cameo at Arsenal), no Roerslev or Canos and Ivan Toney on the bench. It survived just 11 minutes.  

I guess if Ivan is not 90 minute fit the thinking was to have him, Josh and Christian Eriksen on together. Besides, as one terrace wag put it in the pub after the game, having played for Spurs Eriksen is used to coming on at 2-0 down. It didn’t work though. Not this time. Personally, I’d have started Ivan and brought him off if needed. Then use impact player Wissa up top with Bryan.

Being an armchair manager is easy. There’s no consequence to your decisions. No comeback or tirades of abuse for getting it wrong. None of us know what goes on behind the scenes. How fit players are. Why some start ahead of others. It’s not the team I’d have picked but it was still a team that should have been good enough to perform a hell of a lot better than they did. The ten men didn’t help, of course, but it just felt as though we barely got even half way close to sniffing the chance of having a look in.

It’s done. It’s dusted. It’s put to bed. The player review and ‘deeper dive’ is here. A bad day over. A bad day made even worse by then having to watch Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. In itself, always an awful experience and one made even worse by their proving how ‘live’ the show was by harping back to the result. There it was again. And again.

Instead, it’s time to focus on Norwich City. They looked desperate against Southampton on Friday night. Another team spending huge swathes of time on the backfoot and inviting pressure on themselves. Bringing the inevitable goals against with even Dean Smith replacing his usual “We deserved to win” with, “The better team won on the night, we can’t argue with that.” . Like Eddie Howe, a manager reading the game correctly, even if the result didn’t go as planned. 

It will be crucial how Thomas and his team react to this performance when we go to Carrow Road next week. Otherwise, those last two games of the campaign (Everton away and Leeds United at home) might end up proving very significant. All that’s to come, of course. For now we need to focus on Norwich City and then Burnley. 

Nobody said life at this level would be easy but I’m still loving it. Bring them on and see you there.

So much optimism from the young Bees before kick-off

Nick Bruzon

He’s going to play. They both are !!

26 Feb

Well that’s been about the worst week imaginable. There can’t be any amongst us not experiencing some or all of the obvious emotions about what’s going on across the other side of Europe. Shock, anger, fear, disgust, angst and just utter despair about the actions of one man  with that terrifying combination of maniacal tendencies that are off the scale and a microscopic penis (he must, surely, be over compensating for something?). It feels wrong to be in a position where everything is ‘normal’ but we’re the lucky ones where it is and for that reason, even if just for the family, we’ll be carrying on. For us, that means Brentford hosting Newcastle United. Last week’s game at Arsenal now filed away and The Bees moving on to the first in a sequence of three fixtures against clubs currently in the bottom four. Norwich City (a) and then Burnley (h), also to follow.   

The news out of the press conference yesterday was just about as good as it was possible to get for Brentford fans…. 

Christian Eriksen will be in the squad, and he will get on the pitch to make his debut.

It’s going to happen….

Not my words, Carol. The words of Thomas Frank. Talk about a boost to a midfield which, at times, has seen uphill runs become power-sappingly mundane and overtaking National Express coaches become a long, drawn-out affair. Parking the bus proving far too adept a tactic at stopping the Brentford attacking force. Now, we have Christian available. We have Josh Dasilva starting games again – seeing him on the pitch at 3pm at Arsenal a sight to behold – and we have that other bonus offered up but Thomas…. 

We have all players available, which is positive. That also means Ivan Toney will be involved in the squad tomorrow.

Finally. This is just great news. One can only hope Ivan will be on from the start. He’s been hugely missed and the combination of him and Josh Dasilva in the attacking third one I cannot wait to see. Let alone when you then chuck Christian Eriksen into the mix. 

Actual. Christian. Eriksen. Playing for Brentford. With apologies, its been almost a month now and I still can’t believe it is about to happen. Yet it is. All the reports out of training and those pre-season friendlies suggesting that his story is en-route for a fairy tale ending. I’m sure he’ll come off the bench for this one and, when he does, that most will be immense. That noise will be huge. Even the Newcastle fans might join in, such was the global reach of last summer. The football family united as one.

For me, he’ll come in to a midfield three that will, or at least should, start as Norgaard, Dasilva and Janelt. With Shandon Baptiste and Mathias Jensen also available to pick from, we’ve suddenly got choice. Huge choice. When fully fit, that choice will only get tougher. 

The obvious hope here is that Brentford will be given that added cutting edge we’ve been struggling to find in recent games. The defence seems to have sorted itself out, as much as it can with the options available, although the right wing back channel against Arsenal looked brutal. Mads Roerslev will begin this one, surely?

As we’ve said, many times, players can only play where they are asked. That said, sometimes the peg feels just too square for a particular round hole. Much better keep that option available for higher up the field. Nobody can knock the effort or desire whilst some of the vitriol seen and heard from certain ‘fans’ is just nothing short of embarrassing. Get a grip.

That’s me, I suppose. Embrace the positive. Look at where we are and what we have achieved so far. Fourteenth in the Premier League. Other clubs failing to win the much talked up ‘games in hand’ . See also: last season. Another year in the top flight is there for the taking and, for the record, it will be. A campaign lasts 38 games. Not 7(seven), 8 or 9. The thread below also giving some much needed sense but, also, insight into supporter mindset in some of the replies / quote tweets.

Our start was wonderful. Our run of covid and injuries less so. It would impact any team, let alone one with the budget and set up of ours. That recent sequence of fixtures still showing all the fight one would expect (Southampton aside, which was just a giant turd of a performance), most of which were against clubs aiming for The European places and the title. Now that particular challenge, at least, has been overcome. Everyone is back and we can see what the team does with those added midfield elements. 

Honestly, having both Christian and Josh added to the mix is just HUGE.  Its not a gimme, of course. The team still need to do their thing. The crowd need to get behind them, too. Likewise, Newcastle United aren’t just gong to roll over. The Magpies still sitting way close to that trap door for their liking although recent results have seen them hit form once more and pull out of that awful nose dive that dominated so much of the season.

Allan Saint-Maximin remains the obvious danger man although his participation seems in doubt. Eddie Howe confirming that the player was still in Monaco on Thursday for medical reasons, seeing a personal physio and receiving what was described as the “Best and most intense treatment” possible. (What’s French for anti-gravity treadmill? ).

Draw what you will from that update. Is there any real hope? Will it be the bench at most?  Big money signing Kieran Trippier amongst those definitely missing out too. In the end, though, as we’ve proven against Arsenal. Against Liverpool, Against Chelsea and both Manchester clubs. Quite simply, it doesn’t matter who Brentford are up against IF we choose to play. If we find the ball. If the crowd get behind the team then this side can be up there with the very best. Can drive Cristiano Ronaldo to stropping off – still up there in the highlights of the season to date.

Don’t cry for me, Cristiano…. The mother of all tantrums

We’ve had some wonderful moments so far this campaign. We’ve more than held our own for all but three or four games. Now to see if the return of a talisman and the arrival of a certain Dane can help write another new chapter in the Brentford story.

Bring it on and see you there. Perhaps crack out that mid-90s shirt, too….

Get your Ericsson kits out

Nick Bruzon

Is THE debut coming? Will a star return?

24 Feb

Next up for Brentford, Newcastle United. The Arsenal game has long since been put to bed with The Bees still in fourteenth (everyone) despite the mini-meltdown going on in some social media quarters. Instead, the forthcoming sequence represents a wonderful opportunity to both silence the doubters and even make ground on that top ten spot still being hoped for by some. Fourth bottom Magpies, then a trip to 20th placed Norwich City and a visit from a Burnley team also, currently, below the trapdoor. After Leeds United conceded their tenth goal in two games as they came dangerously close to a second bracketing of the winter (Liverpool only managing a mere 6 last night), anyone in TW8 pressing the panic button may want to look a little further afield.

The game at Arsenal has been and gone

Of course Saturday’s game a is a big one. They all are though. Obvious focus is on our recent run of results where only one point has been picked up out of the last 7(seven) games. Games that, let’s not forget, have included trips to Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal aswell as the visit from Manchester United.

Out of that run, only the car crash at Southampton has caused any stress. Truly, up there with the worst performances of the season. But enough about their supporters and the Coldplay light show that rubbed salt into an already gaping wound.

The last few minutes at St. Mary’s in January were as bad as they get. Anything but Paradise

Dwell on the negative all you want. Suck up the doom and gloom. Or cast that net a bit wider to reflect on the season gone so far. Remember that a campaign is defined by 38 games, not a handful. That we now have David Raya back. That the trip to Arsenal saw Josh Dasilva start his first game of the season. That, perhaps, most importantly we still have the prospect of Christian Eriksen to come.

Saturday is the day. Christian seems set to be in the squad with a place on the bench ready and waiting.  The two warm up games already played have seen him assisting more than the lovely Debbie McGee. First Southend United and then Glasgow Rangers put to the sword in behind-closed-doors encounters. The step up to top flight football will be a huge one for anybody, let alone a player who has been out of action for the best part of a year yet there is more than enough pedigree, not to mention points to prove, to suggest Brentford may have pulled off the coup of the transfer window in enticing Eriksen to Lionel Road.

Christian helps pull another rabbit form the hat

The player’s own prognosis after the game with Rangers offering further optimism, ”I am actually a bit surprised that my body is acting as it is … I’ve been training hard but 𝙄 𝙙𝙞𝙙𝙣’𝙩 𝙚𝙭𝙥𝙚𝙘𝙩 𝙞𝙩 𝙩𝙤 𝙗𝙚 𝙖𝙨 𝙜𝙤𝙤𝙙 as I feel now.”

Then, of course, there’s a certain goalscorer. After missing the last three games with a minor calf injury, Ivan Toney was pictured back in training this week. His endeavour has been desperately missed. Even half an hour in the denouement of the Arsenal game may have altered the result but we’re talking ifs, buts and maybes. Instead, the tactic would appear to have been a clear one of zero-risk, picking your battles and ensuring he is completely fit and niggle free ahead of the run in. Ahead of this mini sequence that, should it go our way, will see nerves calmed and the table climbed.

What you can say for sure is that any team without Ivan Toney is a weaker team. That he has been sorely missed That the prospect of seeing him in a line up that also include Josh Dasilva, let alone Christian Eriksen, is one that has us all salivating. The greatest power trio since ZZ Top. Whether Newcastle is too soon for that combination to play out remains to be seen but it will come. And when it does……! 

Whether this also prompts any formation change also remains to be seen.  I can’t see Thomas Frank staring with anything but his regular three centre backs supported by Rico on the left and, err, Sergi or more likely Mads on the right. The calls to shift Kris Ajer out right are becoming more and more vocal by they day but teams have never been picked by social media. For me, Clive, it would be too much of a risk. Play your best players in their best positions. Take the game to the opposition so that defence is as much a secondary consideration as anything else. Now is not the time for further experimentation. 

There’s two ways to look at the last twelve games of the season. Either a wonderful opportunity to build on the, mostly success, of a first Premier League campaign. To continue an unexpected push for the top ten. To cheer on our team. To enjoy the positive rather than wallow in doom and gloom. Or to embrace negativity.

Personally speaking, I’m in the former camp. This season has been the most incredible fun already. The most unexpected. I want more of it. We will have more of it. We’re fourteenth, everyone. Last time I looked it was only 18,19 and 20 who went down. I’ve supported Brentford fo far too long for this to be considered a ‘bad’ table position. My word, some of the comments out there. But that’s me. I get some might be concerned but all being well, let’s hope some words are eaten over the next few weeks. So we can enjoy that season finale with Leeds United for all the right reasons. 😉

Instead, it’s a case of looking forward to Ivan’s return. To host starting. To a certain Dane coming off the bench….

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

Until then, here’s the Arsenal deep dive and what might have been on Saturday….

Nick Bruzon

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

20 Feb

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

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

Post-match commentary was interesting:

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

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

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

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

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

Arsenal twitter – a real work of art

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

Could he start tomorrow? Here’s hoping !

18 Feb

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

Going for more of the same agasint Arsenal this weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The former, coveted.

The later, well that’s their problem….

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

Nick Bruzon

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

15 Feb

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

A thing of beauty unfolds

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

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

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

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

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

David had an earlier than expected return

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

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

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

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

The prospect of seeing who Thomas has available.

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

It says Liberia, not Library…

Nick Bruzon    

Who were the crown jewels against Palace ?

13 Feb

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

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

Enjoy

Nick Bruzon

Caution. Positivity may offend.

13 Feb

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

The moment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The table doesn’t lie

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon