Tag Archives: Championship

Post-match debrief and final season review

24 May

Brentford 1 Leeds United 2. In the end, there was to be no falling apart (Burnley aside) and the 9 man Bees ended up on the wrong end of nil points. On the plus side, a final Premier League position of 13th was well above the expectations of everyone outside of TW8 and with the promise of more to come, August can’t get here soon enough.

As ever at this juncture, time to look at who shone for Brentford. Not just in the Leeds United game but, this time around, over the entire season too. We’ve the usual after match top five and also the final scores and positions in the game-by-game summary that has been conducted over 2022-23

You can find that, here. Enjoy. Here’s to a short break and then doing it all again next time around…

Another Monkees moment approaches although this would be eleven times better.

20 May

One Premier League game to go. Brentford sit 11th in the table, with this Sunday’s visit from Leeds United even bigger than it already was following last night’s almost perfect combination of results. Everton are safe after coming back from 0-2 down to defeat Palace. Burnley control their own destiny after holding Aston Villa in a game that, arguably, they may even have won. Regardless, the point earned was sufficient to take them out of the bottom three as we head into that final round of fixtures. The Bees are now clear of both Villa and The Eagles, knowing that a win (combined with defeat for Brighton) will see us finish tenth. This would, of course, also see Leeds United relegated….…. 

Oh. My. You couldn’t have scripted it. A moment that has been building for so long is now upon us. We’d all seen the possibility from the moment the fixtures were published. Albeit most critics thinking it would be Leeds United as the ones aiming to hit the top ten whilst swinging the axe marked ‘relegation’. Instead, it is Brentford who find themselves in pole position. The stars slowly aligning over the last few months with supporters whispering under their breath about the potential for the final weekend but barely even able to speak about it for fear of the dream scenario not coming into play. Now, it has. Now we are in a place where… 

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had this kind of pre-match buzz since the return of Harlee Dean and Birmingham City to Griffin Park in February 2018. 

Their triple transfer swoop earlier in the season had, of course, already left a sour taste in the mouth

Maxime Colin. Gone. As much a blow as it meant we lost Peter Gilham’s quite wonderful Gallic stylings as he wrapped his tongue around the full back’s consonants.

Jota. Gone. There aren’t the words to describe the heartbreak felt. Even now, he’s up there in the bracket of my most favourite of all modern-era players. The passion. The joy. What he did in the last minute. Time and again. What he did at Fulham. What he did to Jake Bidwell at Griffin Park. The flowing locks. The silky skills. The heartbreaking ‘farewell’ (first time). The joyous return. All to go ’there’. Urghh

Jota – any excuse. Just one of so many wonderful moments

And, of course, Harlee Dean. Gone.

Harry Redknapp flashing the Birmingham City chequebook to hoover up a quarter of our starting XI in a move that would ultimately backfire big time. Harlee then kicking us squarely in the knackers with ‘that’ soundbite. Another case of the brain taking a good ten seconds to catch up. Much akin to a man leaving his car keys in the ignition, sticking a big bow on the bonnet and then turning his back as an opportunistic thief walked past..

If only he’d just thought it. But no, he said it.

It was a moment that is as now enshrined in Brentford infamy as Russell Slade, the Burnley commentary team, Martin Rowlands’ twisted kiss and number 26 refusing to play against Burnley. Just prior to his then signing….for Burnley.

That said, should he do the business against Newcastle on Sunday (something that will also see Leeds relegated regardless of how things play out at Lionel Road) then perhaps we can cut a little slack. Perhaps… 

Here’s hoping that Burnley can celebrate at Full Time, this time

The scene had been set but what played out when Birmingham City made their first visit to Brentford since all of that nonsense was beyond even the wildest dreams. You knew something special was in the air when, on walking into the ground, the first song heard from #BeeTheDJ was Jessie J – Price Tag . “Money. Money. Money” indeed.

The crowd were buzzing, the atmosphere charged. Flo Jo and Ollie Watkins giving us an early lead before a brace from Neal Maupay made it 4-0 with less than an hour played. Harlee coping it from everyone with even goalkeeper Daniel Bentley unable to supress his giggles. Ollie rounding things with a late fifth and that’s how things stayed. 

Yet just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, there was Brentford Official to surpass even the Jessie J moment. Instead of our regular ‘win music’, there was the ultimate in trolling.

Kool and The Gang / Celebrate subbed off.

The Monkees/ Daydream Believer brought on for a rousing reception.

The chants of ‘Cheer up Harlee Dean’ which had being doing the round most of the game, cranked up to the loudest yet. Simply beautiful and, whilst there has been a lot of subsequent dissection of this moment – predominantly saying we should have been better than this – for me, Clive, it captured the mood of the supporters quite magnificently. It was dirty. It was a low blow. It was brilliant.

That’s how it feels for this Sunday. A game where there is a personal edge to all of this.

A team whose fan base, amongst all of those aiming the tinpot jibes, has been as condescending as it comes over the years.

A club who have consistently fleeced visiting supporters.

A club, apparently, too big for a league that has regularly seen them matched up with ‘little’ Brentford in recent years. Of course, stadium size equates to the league a team should be playing in.

Neal Maupay doing what only Neal could. Even when there were no supporters present.

Then there’s ‘that. video. Probably most of all there’s that video.

“Mind the Gap, Thomas Frank”.….. Not my words Carol. The words of Liam Cooper and Stuart Dallas.

I’m sure whatever Thomas says in public, there’s nothing that will give greater pleasure than boxing this one off. Than being the one whose team turn the screw and deliver the fatal blow.

Oh, to return all of that with interest and a smile….

Football isn’t that simple, of course. Wishful thinking alone doesn’t win games. Leeds United will be in a desperate fight for survival. Much as we’d all love to be facing a litter of toothless kittens, I suspect we’ll be confronted by a caged tiger. A desperate beast backed into a corner with survival hanging in the balance.

Their support will be loud. Fierce. Ours needs to be ten times better. And it will. This is going to be as exciting as it comes. As much for the chance of our own top ten finish as whatever else may come.

Watching the Burnley game in The Griff last night, the cheer as they went 1-0 up said everything about where our hearts lie. About what is now in front of us.

I can’t wait for this one. See you there…

Just a bus stop in Hounslow…..

Nick Bruzon

Who gets your vote? This one is as tough as they come.

9 May

Another weekend done. Brentford turned it on again to sweep past Southampton. A 3-0 win every bit as complete as the scoreline suggests. The team now on 43 points and still dreaming of the top ten in the Premier League. Elsewhere, Everton racked up another win on the road whilst Leeds United went down at Arsenal and had captain Luke Ayling sent off for a crazy challenge. Not the first moment of madness experienced in a game that saw a comical goal being gifted to the hosts. All of which means the Elland Road outfit drop into the relegation zone as we head into the final fortnight of the season. Mind the gap indeed…..

With Brentford travelling to Everton next before hosting Leeds United, we’ve naturally got a lot of interest in both clubs and their current form. In what they have to play for. An awful lot, it seems. Midweek – and the respective games with Watford and Chelsea –  is going to be huge. Still, there’s nothing we can do on that front beyond sit back and watch the action unfold. There’s no real influence can be bought to bear so we’ll leave both clubs to stew in their respective juices and see who can fight their way out.

For Brentford, the focus is now on our player of the year award. The vote was opened to supporters this weekend with the choice being one of the toughest in years. Looking across social media I’ve seen a whole gamut of names chucked in to the mix. Genuinely, any of these would be a worthy winner. But who to pick?

Ivan Toney has the goals. He’s the current leader of our weekly ‘game by game’ top five performers’ chart. The gap at the top is definitely getting narrower and this one is going to go to the wire. Yet, as it stands, he is in pole position. He’s eighth in the Premier League goal scorers chart for the season and, with Harry Kane the only English player above him, could selection for the national team be next on the agenda? If nothing else, given the Three Lions’ uneasy relationship with spot kicks, he could be the perfect weapon up Gareth Southgate’s sleeve when the World Cup squad is named.

Ivan has been doing it since the season began

Then there’s Rico Henry. If we’re looking at Ivan for England then surely Rico has an equally bold claim? My word, he has been incredible this season. Just incredible. The pace. The tackling. The skill with the ball at his feet. The acceleration up the left flank and delivery in to the box. He’s the proverbial ‘first name on the team sheet’. Thankfully, a contract extension has been signed that sees him remain a Bee until 2026.

Rico – just fantastic

What about Bryan Mbeumo? Talk about back to his best. Inspirational captain Pontus Jansson with his heart on his sleeve and always leading by example? The revelatory Kris Ajer? The almost ’taken for granted’ authority of Ethan Pinnock? Mrs Bruzon, who knows a heck of a lot more than yours truly, has cast her vote for one of those.
Vitaly Janelt has been magnificent. That he only cost £0.5million almost laughable in retrospect. 

Might Pontus be celebrating again?

The choice of those looking in would likely sway towards Christian Eriksen. Understandably. The romance of his story aside, he has been game changing since returning to full fitness. Few could dispute what a massive influence he has been on the team since he made his way in to the starting XI. That Chelsea game being the one that grabbed all the headlines but he has been that good every time he has played.

The aforementioned ‘top five’ is only missing his presence due to the way it is calculated on game by game scores. As such he misses out on that and, for the same reason, I can’t cast my vote in that direction. This season. For a player of the year award, 9 appearances (fantastic though the y have been) leaves him just that bit short.

What a signing

For me, Clive, it comes down to two players. First up, Christian Norgaard. Brentford’s Mr consistent. The under the radar player who may not always grab the headlines but who is the beating heart of this team. Who keeps it tight at the back siting just in front of whatever formation Thomas elects to start with. Who drives us forward. Who sprays it about with aplomb. Who even weighs in with the odd goal.

That moment of celebration against Arsenal when Brentford topped the Premier League table back in August, secured by his doubling of our lead. The weekly player review has seen him in the top five more than any other player – 18 times out of 36 games played to date. He has been incredible. He deserves to win.

Might Christian be celebrating again?

Then there’s David Raya. For all that people point to Ivan’s goals. To Eriksens’s influence. To Rico’s pace. To Norgaard’s consistency. They’re all correct but none of it would count for anything were it not for the last line of defence. For me, the biggest moment of the season was the injury suffered late on against Leicester City. Up until then, Brentford had been flying. Raya on fire. Then he was gone. Then we had a different Brentford. One which got humped at Burnley. Handed Norwich City their first win of the season. That couldn’t rejig or get used to life without our number one. Two different options were tried and, but for Covid it would have been three (Matthew Cox, your time will come). None of them worked. Like an overbalanced Jenga tower, Brentford were wobbling.

Then David returned and everything was good with the world once more. He inspires confidence. Positivity. Builds attacks. His distribution world class. His form has seen him rewarded a call up for Spain. If Christian deserves to win then I would say exactly the same about David. 

David Raya – his form has been season defining

Whilst Brentford have defied all the critics with our achievements this year, the vote comes down to a straight fight between Norgaard and Raya. The trophy can’t be cut in two. It needs to come down to the vote. You can get your chance here.

In the mean time, if it helps (or hinders) here’s the Southampton ‘starman debrief and current look at our own top five.

Good luck……..

Nick Bruzon

Fulham promoted. And?

20 Apr

The reaction on Twitter to one Brentford fan offering congratulations to Fulham for wining promotion to the top flight last night (albeit, looking as though it was as much a dig at QPR as anything else) was entirely understandable and expected. This most pointless of local rivals. A club who have spent the last five years going up and down more often than the lifts at the Burj Khalifa. For whom their main goal threat is the ultimate flat track bully. Aleksandar Mitrović may have bagged a few in the Championship but seems to become Aleksandar Meerkat when he steps up a level to the Premier League. A place where goalscoring has been anything but ‘simples’.

My initial reaction to the news of their promotion was that classic Partridge shrug.

Having slept on things and reconsidered then its actually all good. Bear with me…

There’s a chance to laugh at neutral stands. Gin bars. Statues of Michael Jackson. Clackers. Foam fingers. Run out music for the warm up. An(other) inevitable relegation. Six points for the Bees. Perhaps even a second column from ‘Fulham fan’ Brian Guest and his Spall 87-88 Bees away shirt. The full story on that one is here. Oh, and did we mention neutral stands?

Brian Guest – Fulham note him as a fan despite the pain inflicted by the Bees

That’s before we get to a local game – the cost of a return ticket from Brentford to Putney sure to save a few pennies from the season long travel budget.

Before we get to reflect on Stuart Dallas scoring ‘that’ goal in ‘that’ 4-1 at the Cottage.

Moments, and sounds, like this make life all the sweeter

To Jota in the last minute. To Neal Maupay doing that amazing thing in the 89th.

To the closest I ever got to winning the Big Bob giveaway – Sam Saunders scoring in the 5th rather than 7th minute (Scott Hogan grabbing our second at that point) in what eventually became the 3-0 at Griffin Park. The game when Tom Field made a shock debut.

Or to the 4-0 HT lead that was the precursor to our eventual promotion from Division Three at Peterborough.

Oh, Jota….

Safe to say that there’s plenty to milk and enjoy about the return of the Fulham game next season. With Brentford still pushing for a top ten finish, securing mathematical safety is the first order of business. That said, I’m still more focussed on another mathematical possibility – a place in Europe. Albeit that relies on the Bees winning those final five games and Manchester United (amongst others) losing the same amount. Although on last night’s showing and their abject display at Everton, nothing would surprise me on that front.

All that’s to come. I’d offer congratulations to Fulham but why? No quarter given. No encouragement needed. Just another league double to dream of.

Nick Bruzon

The points needed to survive. The three teams going down.

6 Apr

You couldn’t have scripted it. With Brentford trashing Chelsea 4-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, those clubs at the bottom of the table hoping the Bees might be sucked into the relegation shake up have been dealt a brutal body blow. Not that we’re talking up that prospect on these pages – as the regular reader will know, top ten is still the target. Yet for Leeds United, Norwich City, Everton, Burnley, Watford and Newcastle (aka the bottom six) going down is still a very real prospect. The big question on everybody’s lips being – who survives?

The current bottom 6 + Brentford

I love this time of year. Everyone seems to be in possession of a supercomputer capable of predicting the results of the final games. Of seeing where each club may pick up points or where they may stumble.

We’re no different here and ahead of this evening’s game between Burnley and Everton at Turf Moor have run the numbers to see who will be playing Championship football next season. Now, the results are in.

A supercomputer, yesterday

First up, the good news for anybody anxious about Brentford. Looking at the current table, only one more point is needed to keep us safe. Whilst we haven’t run the full range of Bees’ games, those where we will encounter a bottom six club (Watford, Everton and Leeds United) have been included  and they see another 7(seven ) points added to the total. A win in Watford, a draw at Everton and then final game defeat of Leeds United. The level to which they fall apart could even have a determining outcome on the final place in our bottom three.

Norwich City are, sadly, doomed. They are currently bottom on 18 points and will only pick up 3 more. A last game of the season defeat of Spurs, because, you know – go out in style. Too little, too late to aid the survival battle but enough to ruffle some feathers.

After that, though, things get interesting. Newcastle United will finish highest of the 6 teams scraping for survival. Another 8 points added to their current 31 takes them up to 39. They’ve lost three on the bounce at present but what looks on paper to be a relatively gentle run in (a three game sequence against the Champions League contenders aside) should see them pick up enough to guarantee another season of top flight football.

Watford are also home. Of the bottom 6, they’ll pick up the most points from their remaining fixtures. 13 points, including crucial defats of relegation rivals Leeds United, Burnley and Everton will see them end the season in 16th place on 35.

So we’ve three more clubs looking at two relegation spots. Everton, Burnley and Leeds United.

The Frank Lampard effect won’t be enough to save Everton. Their form is abysmal. Their run in too tough. The best they can hope for is another 7 points. Defeat this evening to Burnley will see the slide towards the EFL continue and they will finish the season in 19th with 32 points.

Even with the level of help given in the FA Cup, Everton won’t make it

Meaning Leeds United and Burnley slug it out for that final spot. Incredibly, it’s going to end level. Burnley with 12 and Leeds picking up just 3 (home to Brighton in the penultimate game) will see both sides finish on 33 points. Goal difference will be key. As it stands, Leeds are on -33 and Burnely on -18, meaning that the Elland Road outfit seem to be on the way out of the top flight given that chasm will only grow wider. Their last game of the season taking place at Lionel Road and sure to be about as tense an affair as they come. Brentford pushing for the top ten. Leeds fighting to survive?

Could this pan out? Is it nothing more than fantasy football (our reader will know yours’ truly strengths when it comes to that)? Or should the green jacket just stay on for the next six weeks?

Who knows. I tell you one thing, if it did come downs to the Lionel Road denouement, just about he perfect season would achieve legendary status. Come on Brentford. Come on !

For anybody still taking note, below is where the points will be gained and dropped. For anyone else, here’s the Chelsea player review.

That final fixture breakdown…..

BURNLEY 12 points

06-04-22 Everton (H) W

10-04-22 Norwich (A) W

17-04-22 West Ham (A) L

 21-04-22 Southampton (H) W

 24-04-22 Wolverhampton Wanderers (H) L

 30-04-22 Watford (A) L

 07-05-22 Aston Villa (H) L

 15-05-22 Tottenham (A) L

 19-05-22 Aston Villa (A) L

 22-05-22 Newcastle United (W) 

NORWICH CITY 3 points

10-04-22 Burnley (H) L

 16-04-22 Manchester United (A) L

 23-04-22 Newcastle United (H) L

 30-04-22 Aston Villa (A) L

 07-05-22 West Ham (H) L

 11-05-22 Leicester ( A) L

 15-05-22 Wolverhampton Wanderers (A) L

 22-05-22 Tottenham (H) W

WATFORD 13 points

09-04-22 Leeds (H) W

16-04-22 Brentford (H) L

 23-04-22 Manchester City (A) L

 30-04-22 Watford v Burnley (H) W

 07-05-22 Crystal Palace (A) D

 11-05-22 Everton (H) W

 15-05-22 Leicester City (H) W

 22-05-22 Chelsea (A) L

LEEDS UNITED 3 points

09-04-22 Watford  (A) L

25-04-22 Crystal Palace (A) L

30-04-22 Manchester City (H) L

08-05-22 Arsenal (A) L

11-05-22 Chelsea (H) L

15-05-22 Brighton (H) W

22-05-22 Brentford (A) L

EVERTON 7 points

06-04-22 Burnley (A) L

09-04-22 Manchester United (H) L

20-04-22 Leicester (H) W

24-04-22 Liverpool (A) L

01-05-22 Chelsea (H) L

07-05-22 Leicester (A) L

11-05-22 Watford (A) L

15-05-22 Brentford (H) D

19-05-22 Crystal Palace (H) W

22-05-22 Arsenal (A) L

NEWCASTLE UNITED 8 points

08-04-22 Wolverhampton Wanderers (H) D

17-04-22 Leicester (H) W

 20-04-22 Crystal Palace (H) D

 23-04-22 Norwich ( A) W

 30-04-22 Liverpool (H) L

 08-05-22 Manchester City (A) L

 16-05-22 Arsenal (H) L

 22-05-22 Burnley (A) L

Limbs? It was like an explosion in a doll’s factory.

3 Apr

Sometimes there just aren’t sufficient words. Football of the highest order. An afternoon of the most incredible passion. Brentford putting in one of our best ever performances on the road as Chelsea were ripped a new one at Stamford Bridge. The 4-1 scoreline truly deserved as the Bees turned on the style in a manner not seen since, perhaps, Fulham away (the Stuart Dallas game) in our first Championship season. This was next level, though. Champions of Europe? You’re having a laugh ! Third in the Premier league and blown away as easily as an empty crisp packet caught on the breeze. Brentford were ruthless. Dominant. Outstanding. Ballsy. Devastating. Chelsea made to look second class citizens. Real Madrid now, surely, about to face the most enormous backlash when they visit the Bridge on Wednesday. That’s their problem though. This is all about the Bees. This is all about another chapter being written in the story that keeps on giving. What a way to warm up for West Ham next week.

Celebrations for the first goal (of our four. That’s four)

We’d come into this one with a ‘nothing to lose’ approach. Christian Eriksen was back after missing out at Leicester City through Covid and his stock was high after the most wonderful return to international action during the two week break. Yet even a devil may care attitude or the inclusion of a player who is up there with the best in the world, couldn’t prepare us for what came next. For the scenes in the crowd. For the noise that not so much drowned out Chelseas as silenced them (36 minutes on the clock before we heard our first decent noise from our hosts). For the performance of a Brentford side who, after going in 0-0 at half time, came back out to score more times in 45 minutes at the Bridge than even David Mellor might have achieved in his most hedonistic days (don’t visualise it, don’t visualise it).

With Brentford reverting to the three centre backs that had seen us so cautious on the road previously, any thought that we’d come to suck it up was quickly dispelled. Brentford taking the game to the opposition. Eriksen pinging it around. Bryan, Rico and Mads Roerslev slicing through the channels. The Bees on top and, err, pushing up. 0-0 at half-time giving confidence that we could perhaps snatch something. What came next is up there with the most crazy scenes and the incredible results we’ve ever borne witness to. Limbs? It was like an explosion in a doll factory.

Ironically, it was Chelsea who scored first. As at Arsenal, just minutes into the second half and the score turned from 0-0 to our hosts taking the lead. Unlike at Arsenal, this was a flash in the pan. Granted, a moment of brilliance but one that was a bolt from the blue rather than the eventual culmination of pressure, pressure, pressure. Antonio Rüdiger’s shot from distance moving through the air, clipping the inside of the post and finding the back of the net. David Raya close but unable to keep it out. The ball leathered in from over thirty yards out and a wonderful strike. Hats off Chelsea. Yet anyone thinking this was now a done deal was bout to be rudely awoken.

Within seconds , Vitaly Janelt had levelled it up. Bryan Mbeumo teeing up as he took two defenders out of the game and the German fired home form just inside the box. Bees fans erupted. An outpouring of equal parts disbelief and joy. What a moment ! Yet here was better to come. Two minutes later and Christian Eriksen had given us the lead. Again, Mbeumo the architect. His run up field on the counter attack culminating with a beautifully placed ball to Christian Eriksen. The Dane carving a hole deep into the Chelsea defence and making no mistake with his first time effort. Oh, the smile from the player . The clenched fist. The outpouring of love from the stands. The players again celebrating in the corner in front our the travelling faithful. It was dreamland for Brentford, and there was more to come.

That’s the lead!

Within the hour, it was 3-1 Brentford. Again, Vitaly Janelt. Again, Bryan with a hand. Again. Freeing up Ivan for a quite delicious pass. Though the eye of a needle. Three defenders taken out in one touch and Janelt lofting it over Mendy from the corner of the six yard box. The crowd going bonkers.

This was madness. In the best sense. Another celebration from the players in the same corner. Their broad grins and screams of joy telling you everything about what this meant. About our team spirit. About the sheer incredulity of the situation. What a moment. 60 minutes gone. Brentford now leading Chelsea by 2 goals. Clear air and the gap growing ever bigger.

There’s the third goal

There was more to come. Much more. A disallowed goal for Chelsea. The correct call, btw. Another chance down the far end that should have been buried. The home fans then pouring out en-masse. Their supporters leaving The Bridge as quickly as the points. The home end looking as though the previously imposed sanctions had been reintroduced . There were more empty seats than a studio recording of Mrs. Browns Boys. Was this why they had played ‘The Liquidator’ as the team first took the field of play? 

Yet if the Chelsea fans had given up, the opposite was true for Brentford. The team being roared on at ear shredding volume. Wissa coming off the bench and, with his first touch, doing to Chelsea what he had done to West Ham earlier in the season. A late goal – albeit this time the cherry on the icing on the cake rather than the decisive strike. The result was the same. Brentford fans all over the place and the trademark celebration, arms aloft in that W pose. 4-1 Brentford. Moments left. This time it really was game over. This time, it was history being made. No crumbling to the reputation beforehand. No concession to their galaxy of stars or the Champions League winners’ badge that adorned the blue jerseys. Just sheer, unadulterated guts and joy.

And that’s four…

The celebrations continuing long after full time. Nobody going anywhere. Players and staff celebrating with the fans. Savouring the moment. Peter Gilham in the front row of the upper tier showing just why this was the perfect birthday present. He’s seen it all but surely nothing like this in his 75 years. Walking out afterwards, catching up with friends  we’d missed in the stadium.. The reaction – universal. An almost numb feeling of joyous disbelief. That three pint buzz followed by a lot more, for real. Tim Lovejoy. Tim Lovejoy. Tim Lovejoy. Your boys took one hell of a beating. And it was magnificent.

There’s more to come on this. If nothing else, trying to pick the ‘top five’ for our post match player review. For now, though, let’s just bask in what was one of the single best ever Brentford performances. A proper ‘I was there’ moment.

Sunday morning and I’m still smiling. Match Of The Day just rewatched for the third time. This was special. Next level stuff. Now bring on West Ham…

Pontus shows what the fourth goals mean

Nick Bruzon

Would you like salt with that ?

13 Mar

F*&k Brentford !! Ivan Toney has done it again. Not THAT, come on. Two more goals to add to the three scored last week at Norwich City made it another three points and Burnley crying all the way home. At least, their commentary team following a moment of saltiness to rival Russell Slade and his infamous ‘Celebrated like they’d won the FA Cup’ post match meltdown.

Another Premier League win  – inspired by a brace from that man Toney – saw Yoanne Wissa leading the post match celebrations. Freed From Desire blasting out from the tannoy sending everyone nuts. The outpouring of joy clear to all except, perhaps, the visitors.

It’s like they’ve won the Champions’ League” being the killer line in the video doing the rounds on social media that, perhaps, eclipses even Slade himself. Who’d have though such a thing was even possible yet here we were with a modern day Waldorf and Statler of the commentary world?      

One can, perhaps, understand the frustration. Burnley had set themselves up to not lose. Chances few and far between. Defence the priority. It almost worked, too. Five men across the back. Four across the middle. Two always sitting deep. It was turgid, if understandable, stuff. Our visitors trying to pick us off on the break and, to be fair, almost managing it with one effort from Jay Rodriguez that David Raya was happy to watch drift over and past him on to the cross bar. Well read that man. Errr, yes. That’ll do. 

To be fair to Raya, he was on his game when called upon but it was, ultimately, our attack that won the game. Christian Eriksen instrumental. Ivan Toney clinical. The ball from the former to pick out the later on the back stick just sublime. It was delivered over the Burnley behemoths and into the perfect space. Toney evading all markers to meet it perfectly. 85 minutes gone. 1-0 Brentford. Talks about worth the wait. All the effort. All the huff, puff and persistence finally culminating in the hugest cheer. Part relief. Part ecstasy. All awesome.

Chants of “The Bees are staying up” rung around Lionel Road. A few last minutes to hold on. To weather any storm or last push that may come. Instead, it was down the other end. Eriksen releasing Toney once more with the free-scoring forward ploughed over and through when clear in the box. Nathan Collins was shown straight red for his trouble. Number 26  – himself lucky to still be on the pitch after a number of questionable challenges – argued his team’s case but to no avail. The decision stood. The ball was placed on the spot. Ivan Toney did what Ivan Toney does. Back of the net ! 2-0 Brentford. Full time called immediately after. The celebrations that would so upset the Burnley commentators in full swing. Ivan, this morning, with his own beautiful retort.

A show of hands to see who woke up with ‘Freed From Desire’ stuck in their head this morning? Yes. Me too. Why not? We’re not stupid. The Premier League is a prize worth fighting for. Any win one worth celebrating. Moreso given the frayed nerves that had started to appear in certain quarters. Had Burnley managed to pull off their own win, then the pressure might have started to increase on Brentford. Instead, the win against Norwich City was followed up with another three points taken from another club who would have been desperate for, at least, a share of these given their own positioning. The Bees now in a much stronger position than eight days ago. Burnley will be praying Norwich City can do something at Elland  Road this afternoon when they take on a woeful Leeds United side. Really sucking them into the mix would be in everybody’s interest. For more than one reason. The GPG hinting at the hope we all have yet dare not speak. Imagine. Just imagine…..

Fair play. They were on fire. Also picking up on the fact that despite there only being three Premier League games yesterday, Brentford still managed to feature 7th (seventh) on Match Of The Day. That’ll be the Thursday night games for you. Or, perhaps we’ll just argue that they saved the best until last….

The praise for Ivan’s penalty technique – not to mention Christian Eriksen – voluminous. Brentford ‘official’ making the later their Man of the Match but did either feature in our ‘star man’ ranking? The post match debrief and look back at the game is up, now, and you can find that here.

For now, time to reflect on a job well done. A win is a win is a win. Whether it comes in the first or last minutes. Brentford have a new shape and a new look. Christian Eriksen is looking every bit the player we hoped he would be. Ivan Toney has made it five goals in two games. Twenty-six may well fins himself playing the football league next season although will, at least, be able to take consolation in being near his family.

Next up Leicester City. We can talk about that later in the week. For now, time to put the feet up and get that ear worm out of the head. If possible…

Nick Bruzon

New look Bees win after top, top performances from Eriksen and Toney.

6 Mar

My word – that was about as wonderful an afternoon as it gets on Saturday. Brentford came away from Norwich City with a 3-1 win under the belt and a whole host of talking points. The memory of last week against Newcastle well and truly exorcised whilst defeats for Leeds United, Burnley and then , on Sunday afternoon, Watford adding further pressure to that clutch of clubs at the wrong end of the Premier League. The Canaries rooted to the very bottom of that pile after a game they would have ear marked as eminently winnable saw Thomas Frank outsmart Dean Smith in his selections – both tactical and in choice of personnel.

Thomas won the tactical battle

First up, the formation. The reveal of the team at 2pm suggested it would be one last throw of the dice for three centre backs. Ajer, Pinnock and Jansson all being selected yet nothing could have been further from the truth. Kick-off saw Sergi Canos playing up top on the left rather than in the much anticipated right wing back role. Kris Ajer then slotting in to a more traditional right back position with Pontus and Ethan in the middle and Rico on the left. It was the formation so many fans have been crying out for – even if, for me Clive, Ajer should be a nailed on right sided CB rather than anything further out wide.

The other key change being the undroppable Mathias Jensen finally being relieved of his place in the starting XI. Christian Eriksen coming in for his first start in Brentford colours and didn’t he do well? With, by ‘well’, we mean amazingly so. He was truly magnificent. Norwich unable to get close whilst the BBC recorded his performance as seeing him with more touches (66) and more passes (44)   – of which he had more in the final third (16)  – than any team-mate. All this done over the course of almost 100 minutes of football. The expected substitution on the hour failing to materialise as he played the entirety of a game that ran to an additional 10 minutes of time added on over the course of both halves.

Thomas choosing not to bring a knife to a gun fight was a selection rewarded with precision passes, space making runs and inch perfect dead ball delivery. Our opening goal – the first of a hat trick for Ivan Toney – came as a direct result of his corner kick being delivered directly onto Ajer’s head and flicked on to the free scoring front man.

Ivan steers home Ajer’s flick on for 1-0 Brentford

Whilst the performances of Mathias Jensen have, it would be fair to say, polarised opinion the Brentford faithful were united in their adulation for Eriksen. He truly was that good and, on any other day, would have ended this one as man of the match. Instead, Brentford ‘official’ limited the choice to Toney, Toney, Toney or Toney? Which to be fair, is hardly a surprise given his and our first Premier League hat-trick. The first goal coming on the half hour from the aforementioned corner kick, with not one but two penalties being awarded over the opening fifteen minutes of the second half. Both despatched to the bottom left corner in that trademark style. Tim Krul able to do nothing beyond engage in childish attempts to psych out our man. They were as futile as his attempts to stop the subsequent spot kicks.

Brentford 3-0 up before VAR then came to the rescue when chalking off an effort from Milot Rashica after Pukki was adjudge to have flicked it on with his head from a marginal offside. Dean Smith’s already bad afternoon going from worse to even worse. His only crumb of comfort seeing VAR then return the favour after Bryan Mbeumo made it 4-0 Brentford. Ethan Pinnock deemed to have been fractionally ahead of play as the ball was being played in to a crowded box.

For a moment…..

Pukki pulled one back for the Canaries but it was too little, too late. Much to the relief of the vociferous Bees travelling support. In the end, the eight minutes of time added on dwindled away. The game closed out. Three points in the bag – our first win in 9 games and one which could not have come at a more opportune moment. 

Toney and Eriksen grabbed all the headlines but hats off to the rest of the team. David Raya immense – especially early on – whilst Kris Ajer proved more adept in his new role than yours truly had anticipated. Oh me of little faith. Surely more of the same will come against Burnley this Saturday. Whether it remains a permanent formation change remains to be seen but, for now, the back line held firm and provided much needed impetus in the attacking third of the field.

One can only imagine how things will look when Josh Dasilva is available once more (the trip to Chelsea on April 2nd). Vitaly Janelt likely to miss out if the rest of the squad are fit. It barely seems possible to be talking this way about a player currently running fifth in our season long review but the signing of Eriksen and recent return of Josh means we are now spoiled in midfield to levels previously only seen at an ambassador’s reception. The flare on display only matched by the one Mr. Carrow was sent to investigate at half time.

Make no mistake, this win was crucial. It was deserved and it was, at times, hard fought. Ultimately, though, the best team won. The best decisions won. Thomas Frank and his team now have the challenge of proving this was no flash in the pan and that normal service has returned. That Christian Eriksen really is the signing he promised to be. 

With all the horror and angst going on in Europe at the moment, how nice was it to just switch off and experience ‘normal’ Saturday afternoon once again? Blessed relief from the outside world, even if the banners waved to show support for Ukraine pre kick-off meant it was still at the forefront of our minds going in to the game.

For now, we’re been and done. Here’s to doing it all again next week when Burnley come to town. Bring it on and see you there.

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

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