Tag Archives: Aston Villa

Stock up on the popcorn. Wiggle into that butt-groove.

18 May

This Thursday is one of those special dates in our house. Very much a case of family time and one spent together, the fixture list has now thrown a potato skin into the works. With Brentford hosting Leeds United on Sunday, the requirements in that game will be dictated by what plays out tomorrow night. Everton look to secure their safety against Palace, 9th placed Leicester City (still in our sights) visit Chelsea and of course there’s the big one. Aston Villa v Burnley. One or more points for the Clarets will see them up to 17th and Leeds pushed back into the relegation zone with just one game to play. That game. Persuading Mrs. B. that the evening is best spent together on the sofa watching Burnley is going to be a big ask. 

I guess there’s the Fantasy Football card. At the last look I’m fairly certain she had Ollie Watkins in her team. Could the former Brentford man come back to haunt us and scupper the dream? Victory for Villa will see them overtake the Bees in our pursuit of the top ten although, for what its worth, Burnley were desperately unlucky on Sunday. The penalty awarded against them in the 1-0 defeat at Tottenham as ambiguous as they come. Their own fightback not quite enough. Then, Leeds United taking until the 92nd minute to finally level the scores delivered an even bigger kick to the unmentionables.

That was then, this is now. It’s been. It’s gone. It’s over. The table is what it is and Burnley are the ones who still have the upper hand. Burnley the ones with the ability to turn the screw and heap the pressure on Leeds. And Everton for that matter, given they’re still not safe after Brentford put in that fine, fine performance at the weekend.

An amazing game at Everton

So we’ve got big questions to ask going forward. Namely, “Do you fancy watching Villa-Burnley this evening?”   One would hope that the potential state it could leave the table in as we head towards Sunday’s season finale will be a sufficient draw to tempt even the most neutral of observers. The prospect of what may be on offer. What could occur. Which team may have the final stay in who goes and who stays simply too big to comprehend. Too tantalising a lure not to have an interest in what happens tomorrow night. A season which has gone all the way at the top (where Liverpool could still, theoretically, win the title), in the middle (with Brentford aiming for 9th) and in the relegation battle will finally deliver some answers. 

It has been amongst the most exciting on record and having the Bees playing our part has been the cherry on the icing on the cake. We’ll look back at some of our own highlights in Sunday’s programme column – whittling them down to a final ten was about as tough as it gets. Especially given number ten might even play out in front of our eyes there and then. Albeit we need Burnley to play their part. For what it’s worth Clive, I think they will. Thursday is going to be huge and I can’t wait to see how it leaves things. Hey – we may even get to watch it.

Prior to then, tonight sees the Brentford Player Of The Year awards. The ‘live show’ starting at 7pm and includes the supporter votes for both player of the year and goal of the season. For the record, mine went to David Raya and Yoanne Wissa (at West Ham) respectively. The former has been the key difference to us this season. Brentford with him and Brentford without him as discernible as night and day. 

What a moment at West Ham as Wissa leaves it late

Christian Norgaard and Rico Henry seem to be the favourites, going by what I read on social media, but whomever wins it will be thoroughly deserving. Rico, incidentally, going top of our season long game-by-game review following his own starman performance at Everton on Sunday. Christian, now uncatchable in having the most top five appearances. You can find that here.

Stock up on the popcorn.

Wiggle into that butt-groove.

There could be a lot of time spent on the sofa over the next few nights. Maybe in our house, too…..

Christian is well in the running for POTY

Nick Bruzon

Excitement continues to build as we run out of E’s.

5 Feb

Brentford are back on the road to Wembley. Back in action after a two week break that has seen everything from ‘that’ video nonsense through exciting news from Aston Villa, transfer deadline day and possibly the biggest story in world football. Not even Frank Lampard taking charge at today’s hosts, Frank Lampard’s Everton, came close to the announcement that Christian Eriksen has joined The Bees on a six-month contract. The former manager of Frank Lampard’s Chelsea having to play second fiddle to the quite wonderful news out of Lionel Road. The ‘feel good’ story of the year has seen shirts flying off the shelves with so many names printed that the club have reportedly running out of E’s.

Insert usual file photo

Thomas Frank would use the press conference ahead of today’s FA Cup fourth round tie at Goodison Park to talk about the great Dane, saying, “It’s potentially the greatest signing ever for the club. The day that Christian steps onto the pitch will be an unbelievable day. What happened to him in June was a shock for all of us. To see him out on the pitch soon is going to be a big day.

Hear, hear !! We could talk about Christian all day long but, for now, with the player due to start his first training session this Monday our focus has to be on Everton. On the FA Cup. On the second part of a three act play between the Bees and the Toffees. On our first visit to Goodison Park in, well, a long, long time. Most Brentford fans, TC aside, won’t have set foot inside this famous old stadium before. It is a trip that has long been in the diary for the Premier League but now we get a sneak preview.

Our second trip to Liverpool this month

The atmosphere is sure to be an electric one. The fans of both clubs well, well up for it. Will Everton, freed from the shackles of Rafa Benitez, be a rejuvenated force under the former Chelsea and Frank Lampard’s Derby County manager? Or is this a chance to catch them cold as they adjust to this latest attempt at finding the right man to steer them back to the upper echelons of the league table / stay up?

If you count the temporary double stints for Duncan Ferguson and David Unsworth, Lampard is the 11th occupant of the Everton hotseat since David Moyes ended his 11-year stint in 2013.

The first encounter between our clubs this season was a game of football. That’s the factual term and about as exciting as we could get. It ended in victory for Brentford. 1-0. Ivan Toney doing what he does from the penalty spot. The Bees grateful for the points and we park it there. Everton abject. Dreadful. The wrath of Benitez nothing but a spent force. A manager sleepwalking to his inevitable demise.  Lucas Digne, doing his very best to make friends and influence people in a display of bad sportsmanship best consigned to the waste bin of history. Still, he’s Steven Gerrard’s problem now. The pantomime villain now at Aston Villa and so the Brentford supporters denied the opportunity to greet him in the obvious style. Perhaps, instead, that honour will fall to everyone’s favourite Brazilian.

Pele. Alisson. Ronaldinho. Socrates. Zico. Err… Allan. He remains, even now, an enigmatic figure in our house. Talking to our Harry about the most unexotic sounding South American since Fred, the subject of this somewhat random cult-hero (see also: Lucas Biglia) was discussed.  “Allan tomorrow. What are we going to do?

H is only 8 years old but is well, well aware of how football works. Friendships and admiration count for nothing when the whistle blows. There’s no half and half love in there. “Boo him all game, dad.

Apologies, Allan. Don’t blame me, blame the kid.

Allan

As for the Brentford team, well there was great news out of the press conference. Thomas Frank confirming we’ll put out a strong team with Matthias Jensen and Rico Henry both recovered from that awful moment in the game against Wolves. Then there’s David Raya and Josh Dasilva who both played for an hour in the behind closed doors game with Aston Villa during the week. Thomas updating us with some potentially wonderful stuff:

David looked his normal self. I just need to speak to my staff now to see if David can start on Saturday. That was Josh’s third game. You can see three or four of those top actions where you just smile.

Personally speaking, I’d imagine Thomas will bide his time and hold David back for Crystal Palace. Obviously we’re all on the outside looking in so who knows how strong he is atm. He’s been out such a long time that this suddenly feels like 0-60 in 0.5 seconds. I mean, if he’s fit and good then that’s wonderful news but given his importance to our team, one can’t help but feel a bit of trepidation. There’s no point taking a risk this close to his return unless , of course, he’s back up at 100%. The announcement of our team by ‘official’ at 2.01pm will be an interesting one, that’s for sure !

Until then, safe travels everyone. Let’s do this. If nothing else, off the back of Everton fan and Absolute radio DJ Andy Bush giving the Bees an on-air kicking last night when describing this as our ‘one year tour’ of the Premier League. Can’t think why he had been prodded – whether it wsas the ask he play Down, Down by The Quo or something else – but there you go 😉  . 

That said… marvellous as it was that he obliged with a smattering of the Double Denim, how wonderful would it be to make the king of the Indie disco get a plate with some words and a knife and a fork….

See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Is he the best new player we didn’t sign in the window?

2 Feb

Oh my word. After the week began with nothing but Christian Eriksen (and rightly so) there was a further bombshell – of the good sort – out of Brentford official on Tuesday afternoon. Just two words needed: David Raya. Make that four words: David. Raya. Josh. Dasilva. Both featured in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Aston Villa in which our much missed goalkeeper made a return to action, mirroring those earlier steps on the road to recovery made by Josh. The later scoring the opening goal of what would eventually transpire to conclude in a 2-1 reverse. Whilst Everton and Manchester City may be too much to hope for, might Saturday week against Crystal Palace be the date we are provisionally pencilling into our calendars for David’s return? Josh too. Elsewhere, we now know Christian Eriksen’s squad number and his Fantasy Football value .

First up, David Raya. What an unexpected bonus. He had been an absolute nailed on starter before that injury against Leicester City. The shot stopping. The calm. The distribution. Exuding confidence and making the step up from The Championship to Premier League look oh so simple. The almost sixth sense relationship with his defence. Knowing when to come. Knowing when to stay. Showing why Arsenal had coveted him so much but, thankfully, remained unfulfilled in their desires.

The value of a top class ‘keeper cannot be underestimated. Something we know only too well at both ends. Without David, it would be fair to say that at times we’ve looked shakier than Shakin Stevens reading Shakespeare whilst dreaming of milksh… well, we all get it.  

At times, the backline has felt shaky whilst David has been out.

Up front, that last line of defence has denied us points against Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester City. Amongst others. Grade A ‘keepers are worth their weight in gold. The players most under the spotlight and the hardest to replace. For all people are anxious, post window, about our lack of full back cover, for me ‘keeper has always been the toughest act to follow. Green shirted bench warmer the most thankless of tasks. Moreso, for newcomers to the set up.   

Now, our quest for #1 could almost be at an end. In David’s own words:  Felt so good to be out there with the boys once again after 15 weeks on the sidelines. Last push of recovery and hope to be back out there soon.

He isn’t alone.

Oh yes !!!

Then there’s Josh Dasilva. His rehabilitation has been a long and patient one. At times we’ve coped. At others Brentford have been crying out for his athleticism. His creative genius in midfield. His shots from the edge of the box. His Premier League debut. There’s been so much going on this season it is, sometimes, hard to think about a player who was a nailed on starter when fit. We’ve missed him so much. We’re almost set for the most anticipated comeback since Jota returned from Spain for round 2 at Griffin Park.  

Like David, he got another sixty minutes under the belt at Villa Park. He scored the goal, too. An effort described by ‘official’ as a shot to the far corner from a tight angle. That Ollie Watkins and Tyrone Mings would eventually hand victory to Aston Villa is almost a moot point. For Brentford, it was all about the return of two much, much missed stars. Make that three if you factor in the 90 minute run out for Matthias Jensen. Who’d have thought he’d be back so soon after the Wolves game?

Wolves… horrific

Right now, I’m dreaming of an Eriksen, Norgaard, Dasilva midfield?  Or should that be Dasilva, Jensen, Eriksen? With Norgaard deeper. Or perhaps Janelt, Dasilva and Norgaard? How about a Danish power trio of Eriksen, Norgaard and Jensen? With Eriksen making a gladiatorial return to the fray from the substitutes bench.

Imagine the reception he’ll get for that moment….

Whichever option Thomas goes for, it’s a quite wonderful problem to have once all are fully fit. Bring on Crystal Palace. I hope. You could call either David or Josh the best new player we’ve acquired. But both? Wow. Certainly, it feels like a huge breath of fresh air blowing through Lionel Road.

And talking of which….. there’s Christian Eriksen too. He, of course, a player whose name you may have caught recently. Well, he’s now been confirmed as wearing squad number 21.

Halil Dervişoğlu, currently on loan at Galatasaray gives up his double digits to our latest acquisition. With free printing offers already available at the club shop, one can only imagine the industrial laminator will be in heavy use over the coming weeks.

Likewise, the club website where all being well we do a better job with the photoshop once he is formally added.

He’s in !!

For those amongst us doing Fantasy Football…. And by doing, in my case we mean jinxing – given the abject lack of form immediately bestowed upon anybody selected – Christian has now been added to the game.

With a value of £5.5 million he’ll be an absolute steal once he makes that much anticipated return. Perhaps hold off a few weeks though. If nothing else, until they get his shirt right after opting for an old photo rather than a shonky cut and paste.

Brentford? Check. Value? Check? Photo? Err……

Right – that’s me done. Dreams of a two week break ruined by the transfer window, Josh Dasilva and David Raya. Everton and Manchester City on the imminent horizon. Returning heroes, all being well, just as close.

Cripes, I can’t wait. See you there.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No… he’s in the air and everything though

Nick Bruzon

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