Tag Archives: Aston Villa

The New Year started with a bang. Now, the games come thick and fast.

7 Jan

And so it begins again. Covid may have put paid to the traditional December fixture pile up but, instead, Brentford see the games coming thick and fast in January. We’ve got Port Vale in the FA Cup this Saturday, swiftly followed by a midweek trip to Southampton and then Liverpool away on Sunday week. That, in itself, a topic of huge contention as supporters were once again proven to be the second class citizens we so clearly are in the eyes of those pulling the strings. This is swiftly followed by the rearrangement of the home game with Manchester United (Wednesday 19 Jan). The one cancelled at the 11th hour after their covid outbreak. The one following the insipid performance at Norwich. Then, a fortnight after that FA Cup, we’ve the visit from Wolves in the league. As it stands. Who knows these days?

Another journey on the “Road to Wembley” begins

First up, the FA Cup. Thomas Frank has used his press conference to confirm that Kris Ajer will start that game. His return to fitness is magnificent news. Primarily for his own contributions so far this season, where he has hit the ground running despite the tougher challenge compared to the Scottish Premier league. His own comments about it being easy to make the step up from a division where you are expected to win even game have, so far, been proven. Brentford have most definitely been stronger with Kris in the team whilst his return is as welcome given the injuries still being felt by Zanka and Charlie Goode. All being well he comes out of this unscathed against opponents who will no doubt be going for the juggular. 

Their own recent battles with Covid and fixture congestion means that Vale are sure to start strong. Thomas telling the media that manager Darrell Clarke, “Needs a game for his starting XI. We know they like to play and attack but we will be ready for that.

Trying to help Brentford avoid slipping up on an FA Cup potato skin will be Bryan Mbeumo although for Rico Henry it is seen as “One step too early for Saturday”. Sergi Canos and Matthias Jensen also miss out although should be available for Southampton.

Whether either will start that game is another matter altogether. Janelt, Baptiste and Norgaard are the absolute three nailed on names for just about every Brentford fan, subject to fitness. Likewise, with Mads Roerslev in fine form down the right, it looks like a three way battle between Sergi, Dominic Thompson or even Saman Ghoddos until Rico is ready once more. The later in particular impressing against Aston Villa and breaking in to the top five performers in the post match player review.

The FA Cup is then followed by Southampton (a), Liverpool (a), Manchester United (h) and Wolves (h). Four Premier League games in 12 days. The sort of congestion we saw following lockdown one. Or was it two? The difference this time around being that fans will be present to roar us on. We all know what a difference the atmosphere makes with the crowd really helping drag the players back into that second half against Aston Villa. The visits of the ‘big’ clubs seeing things go nuts from the off and so expect the roof to be ripped off when we get a visit from possibly the biggest of all during this run. Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Our games with Wolves have always been special. Going neck and neck in both League One and the Championship over the last ten years, its been wonderful crossing paths once more in the top flight. Long may the duel continue. Especially if we pull out the result as we did up at Molineux earlier in the season. Another ice-cool penalty from Ivan Toney, a wonder tackle from Kris Ajer and a new pair of gloves for David Raya being the stand out moments from a fine win on the road.

Another round in the ongoing battle of Wolves v Bees approaches.

Before that is the rearranged trip to Liverpool (thoughts on which will likely be saved for the programme column for Manchester United) followed up by the visit from the Red Devils. Certainly two of the toughest fixtures in a back to back sequence of league games. One does have to wonder how they’ll cope with these two? The trip to Lionel Road to take on Brentford is followed by Man U then hosting a West Ham United side looking to consolidate their own, perhaps unexpected, challenge for that fourth Champions League spot. 

Two tough games but that’s their problem. For Brentford, it’s all about Port Vale (the ‘official’ build up is here) and Southampton. Perhaps with half an eye on Anfield. There’s a lot of excitement to come, that’s for sure. Beating Aston Villa was immense. Moreso after Trezeguet attempted to mug us off after channeling his inner Platoon late on. Instead, three points were earned and the Bees started the new year with a bang. Long may it continue. 

Here’s to a glut of football. See you there. Until then, here’s the only ‘highlight’ from last time out.

Nick Bruzon

New video footage shines different light on worst dive ever.

4 Jan

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

How it appeared at first

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

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

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

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

Or was it just a shit dive?

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

Over to you….

Nick Bruzon

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

3 Jan

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

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

Nick Bruzon

Heroes and Villans at Lionel Road. Was this the worst dive ever?

3 Jan

Brentford are now half way through a first Premier League campaign that finds the Bees on 23 points and as close to the Champions League spots as we are the the relegation zone (a difference of 12 in either direction). The first game of 2022 seeing a 2-1 victory in a pulsating game with Aston Villa. A game where the Bees started weighed down by lethargy but ended it on fire. So much so that cringey last minute theatrics were brought into play but, thankfully, the officials were not fooled by the sniper in the crowd. Saman Ghoddos being a good yard away from Trézéguet as the Villa man pulled off the worst piece of acting since Mrs. Brown’s Boys graced our screens. A dive Tom Daley would have been proud of. Now, its onwards and upwards to Southampton and then Liverpool….

A sniper takes aim. Surely…..

Talk about a game of two halves. Brentford were awful at first. Slow. Disintersted. Leaden. One North stand observer would explain afterwards how she spent he first half hour doing her accounts on spreadsheet whilst her other half spent the time watching , well…. What he was watching was best summarised as: somebody from the world of music watching his son watching the flight tracker app on his mobile phone. I know Villa were hard to beat but it wasn’t that bad an opening period, was it?

A change in starting XI seeing Sergi in for Dominic Thompson (bench) and Mads Roerslev continuing at right wing back. Kris Ajer was, at least, on the bench with Mads Bech retaining his place in the middle. A midfield trio of Frank the Tank, Christian Norgaard and Matthias Jensen supporting Wissa and Ivan Toney up top. Shandon Baptiste making way. Only Mads Bech keeping us in it during a ghastly first 40 minutes.

Danny Ings produced the opening goal with little more than a quarter hour gone. Emi Buendia, our scourge of last season, producing a moment of absolute brilliance in the middle of the park to open up the Brentford midfield and release Ings. The Aston Villa man making no mistake with an inch perfect drive that squeezed between the despairing finger tips of Alvaro Fernandez and the far post. 1-0 Villa and it could, probably should have been more. Brentford not at the races. Or perhaps we were, because we certainly weren’t at a flat feeling Lionel Road.

Then, the game exploded into life with half-time beckoning. Mads Roerslev exchanging passes with Jensen and then breaking forward down the right. An inch perfect ball across the face of the box found Wissa. One touch, control and then a left footed curler guided home with laser like precision. Martinez in goal left with no hope. That trademark celebration igniting the crowd and his team mates from their slumbers.

Watched this on MOTD2 a few times 🙂

As we’ve said many, many times  – possession and chances are all well and good but the only thing that truly counts is the amount of times the ball has hit the back of the net. Aston Villa should have been out of sight. Instead, it was Steven Gerrard rather than Thomas Frank smashing the tea cups as the opening period ended up 1-1. Brentford with a solitary effort but what a way to take it. What a way to come back to life.

From that point on it was game over. Thomas Frank’s substitutions just heaping the pressure on. First the determined Ghoddos. Here was a man playing for his chance against Southampton. Then Baptiste who gave a masterclass in midfield. His partnership with Norgaard a constant thing of beauty. Chuck in Vitaly for a late cameo and it ended about as good as it can from a playing perspective (certainly, given the options available at present). Then, Mads Roerslev cemented his place in history. Became our 11th Premier League goal scorer.

With 83 minutes gone, Shandon played it into the box on the diagonal. The overlapping Roerslev leathered it at Martinez who could only push it back into the wing back’s path. There was no mistake with that second bite of the cherry. If Lionel Road had erupted for Wissa, the roof was positively torn off this time around. Oh, my. What a moment. What a sound. What a feeling. What a win, we hoped….

It’s Brentford, innit. Another 7(seven) minutes plus a further five of injury time added on saw Martinez charging up for the last few corner kicks. It had been bad enough against Leeds. Surely lightning couldn’t strike twice? Surely?

It didn’t, as much thanks to the alertness of the officials after Trezeguet had channelled the spirit of Rivaldo as one magnificent save from Alvaro Fernandez. How Ings didn’t level I have no idea but there was our ‘keeper to keep it out at point blank range. The spirit of Elland Road well and truly exorcised.

Fairplay to Villa. They deserved more than their nothing based on effort. One can only imagine the words had Dean Smith been at the helm still. But football hangs on moments. Hangs on goals scored. The simple truth is that Brentford seized theirs and stopped the visitors doing the same. It may have been scrappy at times but there was no disputing the quality of the goals or the phenomenal second half effort. Had we been scuppered by Trézéguet’s blatant cheating late on there may well have been a riot. Thankfully, justice was done.

Next up, the FA Cup trip to Port Vale and then back to back away games in the League. Southampton first and then Liverpool. With the African Cup of Nations seeing the Anfield outfield denied a galaxy of starts, could we be hopeful of taking a minimum four points from these two games? Who knows? Play like we started yesterday and we’ll be coming home from both empty-handed. Play like we finished it and anything is possible…..

The player review is up now and you can find that here. Until then, nothing more to do but reflect on a job well done. The table doesn’t lie. Nor does the scoreline. We’ve been hard done by at home this season when playing out of our skins (Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City in particular). For once, it was nice to see that despite a woeful start, chances can be taken. Points can be earned.

Well played all round. Until then, here’s that dive……..

Nick Bruzon

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

2 Jan

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

Fantastic news, yesterday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

New year, same Brentford. 2022 starts in style…

1 Jan

Well that’s been a busy start to 2022. Jools Holland hadn’t even started his Hootenanny and the signing pen had already been in action with incoming confirmed from Midtjylland confirmed. New year. Same Brentford. Hot off the heels of the Manchester City game we’ve a visit from Aston Villa. From Ezri Konsa. From Ollie Watkins. Subject to any 11th hour test results coming through, Sunday afternoon sees us host Stevie G ™ et al in a 2pm TV game. There’s ‘that’ video and even some fantastic news on the New Year Honours list.

First up, the obvious stuff. We have a new goalkeeper. With David Raya still suffering that long term injury, 32 year old Jonas Lössl has joined Brentford on loan from Midtjylland, with the option to make it a permanent deal further down the track. Providing some competitor between the sticks is an obvious move. Alvaro Fernandez has stepped in but with the recent scare that would have seen 18 yo Matthew Cox make a debut against Manchester United, had they not called Covid at the last moment, shows how exposed we may have been. With Thomas Frank also confirming the Spaniard had missed training recently, moving fast to give options makes 100% sense. I can only see Alvaro starting against Aston Villa on Sunday – frankly, it’ll be harsh on anyone to lose their place after running Manchester City so close – but after that who knows? Jonas has top flight experience with Huddersfield Town and has also been on Everton’s books, so it wouldn’t be a trip into the total unknown. Good luck Jonas and welcome.

Welcome Jonas. No messing around

The other person in evidence onto training ground was Josh Dasilva. This is about as huge as it comes. Our England U-21 has missed the entire season after playing such a pivotal part in Brentford reaching the Premier League. Whilst there’s no news as to when he might be back out in front of us, just to see him out and about. To see him running around. To see him chasing the ball . Well, its nothing but magnificent.

There aren’t the words to describe how much we’ve missed Josh. The imagination has been running riot at the thought of how much better we may have performed than we already have, had he been available. Whilst one man doesn’t make a team, there are those whom you know would have been nailed on starters had fitness allowed. Josh is at the top of that list for sure. Here’s hoping we see him soon.

He’s on the mend….!!!!!!!

The one player more likely to be back in action soon is Kris Ajer. Thomas Frank used the Villa press conference to confirm that the ball carrying centre back ”Hopefully can make the bench”….whilst on the other absences, “Rico Henry will be out, Bryan Mbeumo is touch and go, and Christian Norgaard is back from suspension. Vitaly Janelt could be on the borderline to be involved.

Again, this is fantastic news. Kris has made an immediate impression at Brentford. Not just in defence but in his ability to take the game to our opponents. Having him available alongside Ethan and Pontus is easily our top combination and comes just in time for the trips to Southampton and then Liverpool. Whether he will be able to break in to the stating XI by then remains to be seen but, personally speaking, if he’s fit and able then he starts. If we take Thomas at face value then presumably expect to see those legs being stretched on Sunday. With Vitaly also close, it could suddenly be a very impressive looking array of substitutes available.

In the shorter term. Dominic Thompson will be given anther chance to impress. The contrast between Brighton away and Manchester City home was about as vast as they come. Although, to be fair, you could say that about the entire team. However, for Dominic in particular the confidence and calmness with which he played against City was just stratospheric. Follow that up again and we could finally have the much needed competition / cover for Rico that was so sorely missed last campaign. Like Charlie Goode, Dominic is another of those slow burners to bide their time and look to take the chance when it has been presented. That Manchester City review is here. And the Brighton one here (for the masochistic amongst us).  

For the rest of the Aston Villa stuff, it’ll all be about Ollie Watkins. Cripes, we know what he did at Griffin Park. We know how close the team came to taking us up. His goals were legendary. His character about as engaging as it comes. Expect warm welcomes and fond returns all round on Sunday. Before and after the game, that is. During it, there’s no doubt everyone will have a point to prove about where Brentford have come since Ollie stepped up that level. Keep it classy. Keep it loud. All being well, we’ll keep him quiet. 

But just to be sure, I have picked both Ollie and Ezri Konsa for my Fantasy Football Team. The closest guarantee of nil points since the UK’s last entry to Eurovision. Honestly, I’m just horrific at player selection so have started the new year with a clean slate in the desperate attempt to overtake my eight year old son. However, on the assumption that normal service is resumed then lump the mortgage on a home win and everyone thank me afterwards.

Hopefully that should work

The other news to accompany Jools tinkling on his ivories was twofold. Firstly, ‘that’ video put out by official yesterday, looking back at the year gone by. It would be easy to forget just how much we’ve accomplished and whilst I won’t overly dwell on it here (did somebody say Aston Villa programme notes?) Let’s just say it got very dusty in here during the Bournemouth semi and when Ethan scored against Liverpool. Enjoy

And then we were given the chance to offer huge congratulations to Natalie O’Rourke who was awarded the MBE. To most of us, she’s Woody’s mum. To our family, somebody who sits a few rows in front and is always up for a chat about anything and everything Brentford. Yet her ongoing dedication to saving the beloved Park Lane Stables riding for the disabled centre has seen this so very well deserved accolade awarded. Huge, huge congratulations Natalie. What a way to start the year 🙂

Like the 2021 highlights video, this was another story that has seen massive smiles on faces after some truly good news. Given how awful the year was at times, great to see so many nice things coming out of it at the end.

And you can read all about that, in full, here.

Until then, simply a case of hoping the hangovers aren’t kicking in too much. Being glad we have another 365 days until Jools or Olly Alexander trouble us again. Most importantly, wishing everyone the best for 2022.

Starting against Aston Villa on Sunday. See you there!! 

Nick Bruzon

Pep talk from Thomas sees a night to remember.

30 Dec

Well, what is there to say about that one? Nobody likes to overly celebrate ‘plucky defeat’, let’s be honest. Yet at the same time one can only be full of admiration for a Brentford team that came so close to taking at least a point from our illustrious opponents. From the League Champions. Manchester City may have run out 1-0 winners but with a starting XI designed to take advantage of Liverpool slipping up the night before, the visitors failed to have things their own way. Anything but. In a game where referee David Coote showed how us just much he dislikes Coldplay (that can be the only explanation for an ongoing refusal to get out his Yellow), the Bees gave as good as they got. Indeed, were it not for VAR showing Phil Foden to be ‘just’ onside, Brentford could have taken a point that nobody watching would have denied we were worth.

Little toe plays finger onside

That’s not how football works, as we well know. Manchester City had their chance and took it. They’ll likely point to another VAR decision that went against them and a post being hit to further emphasise it was ‘deserved’.  Instead, as with Chelsea, a super spirited performance against just about the toughest opposition imaginable, saw the Bees missing out by the odd goal in one. The difference this time that there was no Rico Henry, no Christian Norgaard, No David Raya etc etc etc. We all know who is missing. We all know how bad Brighton away was the game before. We all went into this game knowing that City turning up and Brentford failing to show could be disastrous. Instead, it was about as as close an encounter as they come.

Dominic Thompson filling in magnificently for Rico at left wing back. Mads Roerslev coming in for Sergi. Matthias Jensen hanging onto his place as much due to lack of options but having a blinder in the middle. Ivan, Wissa and Frank the Tank combining time and again early on as the goal threatened. Dreamland beckoned. City were rattled as a flurry of chances fell our way. The no show against Brighton in the previous game nothing but a distant nightmare. Whatever pep talk Thomas Frank gave his troops clearly worked wonders. The crowd, likewise, on it from the get go.

Yes. Yes. Yeeessss … Noooooooooo. Urghh. There was Phil Foden, suddenly freed up by Kevin De Bruyne, and making it 1-0 City down the other end. 16 minutes gone and with Brentford fans still wondering how the ball hadn’t gone in for us, there were the visitors to punish us with some quite clinical finishing. That’s why they’re League Champions. Brutal. Ruthless. Efficient.

And with that, it was game over. The early surge from the Bees petering out. The game settling in to a pattern of containment but one where, with just a solitary goal dividing the teams, it felt alive all the way until full time. Despite the falling over, theatrics and some silly nonsense from Grealish, Foden and Jesus (amongst others) Brentford kept going. Kept playing out of the skin and ran it so very, very close. We’ve all seen the game. We all know how tight this one was.  There are full fat match reports elsewhere if you want them.

Oh Jesus… Dominic Thompson takes his place prior to kick off

For me, Clive, the important take away is that it was yet another night where we have run a top four team all the way. There was no panic. There was nobody star struck by the galaxy of high profile names lining up in front of them. There was just a solid, solid performance that left me feeling totally gutted at the end of it by virtue of the fact we’d come away empty handed. Points well earned by City but on another day….

Equally, one can take heart in how we’ve performed so far.  It was another notch on the belt of progress. Of showing that we are in this top flight on merit. Looking at those teams currently in the Champions League spots, our home games with Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City have only seen five goals conceded. And most of them were in the 3-3 draw with Liverpool.  

Yet last night was probably the most pleasing of those performances, despite the defeat, and as much due to the relatively makeshift nature of the team. For a home side to be priced at 16-1 prior to kick off tells us everything about how two sides from the same division were perceived. By full time, that opinion had been changed by just about everybody.

This Brentford team are full of surprises. With our next league games against Aston Villa and then Liverpool at Anfield, the task at hand isn’t going to get any easier. At the same time, it’s only going to get even more exciting.  Certainly, if we put in a few more shifts like this.

Well played Manchester City. Well played. But well played Brentford, too. You were magnificent last night. The player review is also now up (and you can get that here). For now, time to sit back and wonder what might have been. Perhaps, next season…..    

Until then, we’ve got Aston Villa and Liverpool to look forward to. Not to mention Port Vale in the cup. All the immediate focus will be on if we can close down a certain Ollie Watkins. There’s a man that knows the way to goal. Can he still do it? Roll on Sunday when we find out.

See you there.

Next up – this man makes a return…

Nick Bruzon

Chelsea play their cards right as Brentford are undone by Kanté’s class.

23 Dec

Brentford fans could be forgiven for having that flat feeling this morning. Chelsea supporters the ones waking up with a semi in the pocket. A 2-0 defeat at Lionel Road means the Bees’ League cup progress stops in the quarter-finals. Chelsea join Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal in the last four. Yet for Thomas Frank and Brentford, it was a useful runout and one that could well have had a different ending. At least, until N’Golo Kanté came off the bench with just under fifteen minutes to go. Thomas Tuchel playing his substitution cards oh so right as he slowly cranked up the second half pressure. The arrival of Kanté being the defining moment which transformed the game from evenly balanced contest to one way traffic. The World Cup winner showing his absolute class and importance to a club that may have started the game with a relatively unfamiliar line up but ended it in a much more recognisable style – both in terms of players and performance.

Brentford had no answer to Chelsea’s Tuchel bonus

For Brentford, the team was as familiar as one could have expected given Thomas Frank’s prematch assertions about ‘going for it’. Starts for Mads Bech and Wissa aside (albeit Ivan Toney, now recovered from his positive covid test results, would come off the bench with half an hour to go) the rest of the team picked itself. Contrast that to Chelsea where names such as Vale, Simons and Soonsup-Bell, amongst others, had many of us from this part of West London scratching our heads as to just how deep and strong Thomas Tuchel was going. Yet what we got was more of the same. Chelsea dominating possession (if memory serves, they’d had 68% when the halftime stats flashed up) and Brentford having to work socks off.

Yet it was the Bees who had the better chances in that opening period.  Bryan and Rico working brilliantly down the left. Our left back in particular showing a continued turn of electrifying pace to cause mayhem down that flank. Vitaly strong again and Matthias Jensen getting stuck in. First Wissa and then Jensen were both denied by Kepa between the sticks for the visitors. It could, probably should, have been Brentford who went in a goal up but with the first half tapering off and the second continuing in equally even fashion, it began to take on the feel of looking to take the chance in a spot kick shoot out.

A plethora of changes for Brentford did nothing to significantly up the tempo but with our guests always one step ahead of us on the substitutions, you could see their quality cranking up with every change.  Jorginho and Christian Pulisic on as the second period began, followed by Reece James and Mason Mount. This was the Chelsea we recognised. This was the Chelsea now starting to open the door until , with 76 minutes gone, that man Kanté entered the field of play and booted it wide open. The step up one pace and the drive forward was a clear as day. His part in both goals there for all to see. 

First up, Pontus Jansson somehow slicing it past his own ‘keeper to hand the lead to our visitors with less than ten minutes to go. Urghh. Hearts sank. There was no blame attached or recrimination offered. It was one of those things but now there was little choice left but to go for it. Rather than running the clock down for spot kicks all we could do was go for one final throw of the dice. Instead, it was Chelsea who kept on pushing. Chelsea who scored again five minutes later. Kanté who once again opened us up, leading to Pulisic being felled in the box by Alvaro Fernandez. It felt soft at the time and whilst replays have yet to be seen, there were no real complaints. Jorginho despatching it with his trademark efficiency. There was no way back from there. For Brentford, a chance to focus on Brighton and Manchester City in the league. For Chelsea, the tournament remains alive with the draw now seeing them face Tottenham.

Hey, its a shame but there’s no bitterness. We gave it a shot but were ultimately undone by a master class in cup football and Thomas Tuchel’s strategy. By one man’s Christmas presence ultimately being that tipping point between two teams who had both felt as though they had half a foot in the semis prior to his arrival. Hats off to Kante. Well played Chelsea.

The only real negativity to talk about is around our forthcoming Covid tests. With three games coming up in close succession (Aston Villa joining the Seagulls and City to make up the trio of festive fixtures ) staying healthy is probably the best present we can get this Christmas. I’d love to have won this, of course, but as long as we can stay fit that’s probably just as important in the current climate. What an aspirational thought to end on. Groan.

Instead, let’s be glad we’re back. After two games were pulled in close succession its been a long wait for football. This may have felt like little more than a glorified friendly at times but who knows how important it might have been in simply allowing some ring rust to be worked through. Perhaps that’s the positive we need to draw from this. A decent run out against World Class level opposition. Champions of Europe, too. If only their fans had mentioned it.

Bus stop in Hounslow, you’ll never sing that. And that’s how we like it. Now bring on Brighton.

The GPG may be on to something

Nick Bruzon

We have out next two refs. What do you think of where we are at?

23 Nov

The dust has settled. The point is in the bag for Brentford. A 3-3 with Newcastle United seeing some reward coming our way and now the prospect of midweek fixtures to look forward to once more. Back to back TV games, too. First up Everton at Lionel Road on Sunday afternoon (Sky), followed by the trip to Spurs next Thursday evening (Amazon Prime). We’ve had the referees named for both fixtures already. Everton sees Darren England at the helm with the trip to Tottenham overseen by Jonathan Moss. 

First up, though, the last knockings from Newcastle United. Whilst we don’t normally do full fat match reports on these pages, this season is slightly different. In an attempt to provide some more in depth analysis, we’ve started tracking the form – shot and long term – of those players doing their thing for Brentford in the top flight. Who were the main men on the day? Who is leading the season long charge in terms of being ‘first name on the team sheet’? Consistent good form that makes them the players Thomas Frank just can’t do without?

You can find the answers to those, here. Or, at the least, yours truly’s take. No doubt there’s some glaring omission or schoolboy error of judgement. Or have we got it right? Over to you…

As for those forthcoming games, Thomas Frank had gone into the fixture with Newcastles suggesting Matthias Jensen, Yoanne Wissa and Shandon Baptiste could be involved. In the end, we started with two centre backs and the only one of the aforementioned names to put in an appearance being a last minute cameo from Shandon. I’ll take that and party. His introduction to Premier League football had been a stunning one, that red card wobble at Wolves aside. Moreso given the lengthy absence he had suffered previously. So to see him leave the field at West Ham with that dislocated shoulder was, to be polite, frustrating.

Yet despite the usual protracted absence that goes with injuries to key players (Kris Ajer and David Raya, we’re thinking of you), this one has felt relatively brief. A four league game spell that has coincided with that much noted glitch in results. But with the LLLL put to bed and Shandon back in the mix, spirits are that bit higher going into the Everton weekend. 

Now, if Wissa can also do his medical thing, that would be quite the tonic. His appearances from the bench have been quite wonderful. As has ‘that’ celebration. Oh for another ‘W’ this Sunday.

Another of these would be a thing of beauty

Mr England is the main man for that one. As is usual in these situations, the name is familiar but is it for good or bad reasons? Well, a look back through the Last word archives suggests we’ve generally got away with it.

His key contribution to Brentford folklore being a red card administered to Sam Morsy of Wigan Athletic for poleaxing Yoann Barbet with a head butt.

Darren England has the helm when Everton come to town

As for Everton. Well we can look more at them closer to the time. If Brentford have had medical issues then the same can be said for our next opposition. Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes all missed out on the 3-0 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday. Richarlison picked up a yellow card which means he misses the game at Lionel Road. All in all, a bad day at the office for Rafa who, like Thomas Frank, will be very much hoping for better news on the fitness front.

Then we have Spurs where its fair to say we’ve crossed paths with Jonathan Moss several times over the years. Aswell as an opportunity to insert the obligatory Culture Club joke, he’s probably best known in TW8 for not sending off Neal Maupay at Aston Villa after, err, doing that thing on Mile Jedinak. Move along, nothing to see here. Even if a post-match red was understandably shown. That game ending 2-2 with Dean Smith subsequently suggesting his opponent may have incited the ‘challenge’, to the point of deserving some further punishment himself.  The Head coach noting, “If you remember the incident, Mile Jedinak fell over, got up and then smashed Neal in the back of the head so, if they are looking at retrospective for Neal, then we’ll do so for Jedinak.

Plenty to look forward to in the coming weeks, that’s for sure. If nothing else, we’ve also got that marvellous opportunity of Leeds United being obliged to only charge us £30 to get into Elland Road. That alone being reason to brave the Sunday afternoon rail mayhem. For now though, time to catch our breath and reflect on where we are at present. That Newcastle United review is here. Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon

Time to do another Arsenal? Or will a returning hero ruin the party?

11 Sep

Saturday and the Premier League is back. Brentford host Brighton in our second top flight fixture at Lionel Road following the game with Arsenal. As if anybody needed any further reminder about that one. A 2-0 home win that saw us hit the dizzy heights of first place and sent Mikel Arteta’s team to the bottom of the table. A place they still occupy with a total of no points and no goals. For the Bees, unbeaten and a record of WDD is a wonderful start with the opportunity to try and kick on again today. With Wolves (a) and then Liverpool (h) next up For Brentford in the league, nobody could deny the intensity of games or ongoing calibre of opposition at this level. Even Arsenal. Still, that was then and this is now. Brighton are coming and with them, of course, one particular name. One particular man. One Neal Maupay.

Maupay – a work of art

Shithousery. That’s the word (I’m assuming the editor has resisted the temptation to include it in the ‘family-friendly’ programme article today – although if you want to find out its available around the ground for the price of £4) . The undisputed master of this dark art. And we loved him for it. Absolutely loved him. The goalscoring wasn’t bad either. Ruining Fulham’s promotion push at the last minute or just ruining Leeds United. The pint sized magician was as skilled with the ball at his feet as he was with his studs on the opposition. He swore he’d stay. We were distraught when he left. We’ve all moved on. Now, we have a chance to offer a welcome back and then see how both he, and Brighton, have progressed.

Leeds United. Ruined. Many, many times

I have to say I’m excited going in to this one. Plus ça change. Table wise, Brighton have finished bottom quarter in the four seasons since we parted ways in the Championship and they hit the top flight. Don’t let that fool you into thinking that makes them (relatively) ‘easier’ opposition. Just to maintain this level is a feat in itself whilst, as the preview on ‘official’ notes in 2020/21 “Graham Potter’s side played far better than their results suggested last term. On expected goals, Albion finished fifth, with 20 points more than they actually earned, and with the third meanest defence in the division”.

Whilst the table doesn’t lie, performance needs to be noted. If nothing else, they currently sit above the Bees having already picked up six points. The one blot on the copy book coming at home to Everton last time out.    

For Brentford, everybody is fit barring long term injuries Mads Bech and Josh Dasilva. Our squad has been bolstered by the signing of Danish International Mathias Jørgensen, aka ‘Zanka’. He’ll be filling the Winston Reid role of emergency centre back and comes in as cover for Mads on a one year contract. With a wealth (is there any other sort? Gamut, perhaps) of experience, including Euro 2020 and World Cup 2018 he sounds like a shrewd acquisition. One can only presume bench, at best, today. The key question being whether Frank Onyekareturns in midfield or will be left…waiting for Ghoddos to lose his place. Sorry. Apologies. I’ve finally done it. But given Saman has been with us since September 2020, that’s not bad going.  

With that Portuguese chap set to debut for Manchester United today, it’s a safe bet we won’t be first up on Match Of The Day this evening. To be fair, the only thing stoping us being ninth in the running order is the fact there are only eight games taking place this afternoon. Fair enough. Reputations need to be earned. Praise not just handed out for the sake of it. With ghoulish fascination about the fate of Arsenal aswell as Spurs being handed the opportunity to stride further clear at the top, it doesn’t take a genius to pick the setlist. That’s football. 

Yet this afternoon’s game has all the hallmarks of a really close fought battle. A hotly contested encounter which will be played out in front of a full house. The raucous crowd sure to lift the players as they have done in the previous three games.  Hey, get it right and Gary Lineker may even have us on his couch before Watford – Wolves. 

I can’t wait. For the game (I’ll be asleep by the time MOTD comes around). Roll on 3pm.

See you there. And don’t forget your Covid pass…..

Full time against Arsenal – more of the same would be incredible….l

Nick Bruzon