Tag Archives: Chelsea

Who will fall apart? How hard might ‘the curse’ bite?

13 May

Come on already Sunday. Our trip to Everton cannot come soon enough with Brentford racing towards the end of the season and desperate to see what our final position may be. Not to mention who will be staying with us in the Premier League in 2022-23. A challenge for which both Leeds United and the Toffees were handed a huge boost when Mike Jackson of Burnley was named manager of the month for April. As if their next game wasn’t a tough enough challenge (Tottenham away), the Turf Moor outfit now have the added albatross of the MOTM curse hanging around their neck. We all know how that one goes – win the award ; lose the next game. Something enshrined in footballing folklore as the only greater harbinger of doom than a pre-match visit from ever popular BBC roving reporter Mark Clemmit.

We’ve covered that ground on these pages many times. Albeit worth recalling the quasi-scientific study undertaken in 2014-15 to try and put some meat on the bones of the claim that any club hosting Clem for a Football League Show feature would subsequently fail to win. A season long analysis followed which saw only 7(seven) victories for teams he visited. Out of 30 reports.

He started with short term Leeds United manager David Hockaday (who saw his new team lose 2-0 at Millwall) and finished with the consummate example of the Clem effect as Bournemouth scooped the Championship title at the expense of promotion rivals rival Watford. The Hornets lead with all other results going their way, the title was in their grasp. With the BBC showing 90 minutes, Sheffield Wednesday proved themselves the ultimate party poopers as Atdhe Nuhiu levelled things up for the Owls in stoppage time. And there it finished at 1-1. The title lost, with the final goal. All under Clem’s watchful eye.

Clem finished his season at Watford – who lost the title in the 90th minute

I don’t have the figures for Manager Of the Month. Thomas Frank and Brentford can count themselves truly unlucky not to have scooped the prize this time around. 10 points out of 12 including that epic win at Chelsea a sequence that, one would have thought, made him a shoe in.

There you go. I’m happy to see Burnley on fire if that run has put the cat amongst the relegation pigeons. Now Everton and Leeds United are both in the mix. Now, Brentford have a genuine say in who will stay n the Premier League with us next season. Even if Burnley have the added pressure of a game at a Tottenham side whose thumping of Arsenal last night means the race for the Champions League spots is anything but over.

And that’s four…. an April that began at Chelsea not quite enough to see Thomas to the monthly prize

This Sunday is going to be intense. The Burnley game is on BT Sport at 12pm although you’ll need to follow on the wireless / ‘other sources’ if you want to keep pace with Leeds United – Brighton. 

Then, at 4.30pm, Brentford are up on Sky. The Everton game pushed back to this horrific time at the 11th hour, after most fans had already made their  transport chaos inflicted plans, in order to help West Ham prepare for the Europa League final. That worked well. They’ll just have to go on reminiscing about 1966 and the 1980 FA Cup final when it comes to talk of silverware. Trevor Broking with a header, apparently. If only somebody had menti…. etc etc etc 

Brentford, meanwhile, are left with an even trickier job. 5/2 the price on an away win. At least Thomas doesn’t have the extra jinx factor to contend with. That curse is a problem for Mick Jackson although I for one , hope he can beat it in what is sure to be a thriller at Tottenham. Let’s not go too far down that pun stern road though.

Instead, the priority has to be in hoping Everton and Burnley do the least badly out of the three teams slugging it out to join Watford and Norwich City in the Championship. Victory for Brighton, Burnley and Brentford probably the best combination of results. 

If only football was that simple to call. That said, let’s not forget we ran the numbers through a super computer in early April. Despite the mockery that came with that prediction – in both the article and online – the suggestion that Norwich, Everton and Leeds would be the sides sent down is still looking as though 2 out of 3 may be called correctly. Albeit, hands need to be held about Watford’s chances. Truly, I (sorry, the computer algorithms) hadn’t factored just how genuinely abject they were.

Whether it is Everton or Leeds joining the Hornets and Norwich remains to be seen, of course. The next part of that plays out at the weekend and I cannot wait. 

Now, if Clem – who, to be fair, has seen very much a reversal of his anti-form in more recent seasons – could ensure he was set to ‘jinx mode’ and then go visit the Elland Road training ground first, that would be just marvellous.

Beesotted shared this yesterday. Any incentive needed…??

Until then, there’s the post-fact debrief from our last game – the 3-0 defeat of Southampton – for anybody who would to read more. Stranger things and all that…

Nick Bruzon

You’re going to reap just what you sow.

12 May

That’s it. Brentford are officially playing in the Premier League next season. Last night’s 3-0 trashing administered to Leeds United by Chelsea – a game which saw yet another red card for the Elland Road outfit – means the last of the clubs who can technically catch the Bees have spurned the opportunity. With Everton pulling further clear following their 0-0 at Watford, the contrasts between Thomas Frank and Jesse Marsch’s teams couldn’t be greater. 

Mind the f*&king gap indeed. Those final two games are going to be immense.

The table this morning

For Brentford, the top half of the table is still very much the target. Four points the difference between us and a Brighton team currently sitting 9th. To survive in the top flight is an achievement that has already surpassed the expectations of just about every critic and pundit prior to the season kicking off. Genuinely, as anyone who reads these pages will know, I’ve always been confident in our ability. In where we’ll end. In how we’ll go. Even in that patchy period during the winter when wining a game seemed as likely as yours truly being invited to sit in the director’s box. 

Instead, we were given yet another reminder that a season lasts 38 games. Not 7(seven) or 8. The David Raya / green jacket / Christian Eriksen inspired run (delete as applicable) that we’ve enjoyed in the last few months, perfectly supplementing that wonderful start which even saw Brentford go top of the Premier League table after our opening fixture. Fact.

The last few months have seen some key contributions

None of this should be underplayed. A squad of predominantly Championship players not only holding their own but even administering more than a fair share of bloody noses. Liverpool. Chelsea. Arsenal. West Ham (twice) amongst those having the rug pulled from under their feet when it wasn’t expected. The crowd playing their part, too, with Lionel Road and the travelling support seeing the roof more than raised game in, game out. Thomas Frank, staying a tactical step ahead of everyone as the season has moved towards a most exciting conclusion.

Now, there are two games left. We start at an Everton team who will be desperate for another three points to boost their own survival hopes. An Everton team who have rediscovered the path to victory in recent weeks after sliding down the table faster than the BBC viewing figures when Mrs. Brown’s Boys are drafted in to replace Match Of The Day on a snow day.

Every football fan’s worst nightmare

That won’t be easy. Of course Brentford want to win. Of course we are pushing for that top ten finish. Equally, if Thomas Frank wants to use the game to preserve some tired legs. To give a run out to those returning from injury. To perhaps blood a few of the B team then so be it. This is all about the longer term. About next Sunday. About ensuring the squad are in peak shape for the game with Leeds United…

For the simple reasons that we all want to finish the season as we started it. With a win. Should that win come and it have any additional consequences then all well and good. You reap what you sow and one game shouldn’t be seen as the defining point in a campaign. If it is the game that sees us in the right place at the right time then all the better for it.

Of course the combination of Burnley, who have a game in hand, and Neal Maupay may have already determined Leeds’ fate. Brighton are the next visitors to Elland Road. They’ll be looking for the win to lock up their own position in the upper half of the table. There’ll be as many eyes on that one as there are at Goodison Park.

Whatever happens, happens. Personally speaking I’m loving the fact that the Premier League battle has gone all the way. At both ends. Brentford are now in a situation where we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. By which I mean our own league position of course. Whatever happens to anybody else is of their own making. Oh, to be the ones swinging the axe though….

I can’t wait for any of this. See you there. And then in the Premier League next season, too.

Might Neal inflict a fatal blow this Sunday?

Nick Bruzon    

Double fantasy points to one result. Could it happen?

2 May

Four Premier League games to go. Brentford about to face Manchester United in a top flight fixture. Bees with their tails up following an unbeaten April that included the 4-1 trashing of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and culminated in last weekend’s 0-0 with Tottenham. A game which, even now, seems bizarre that we ‘only’ took one point. Life is good. Further enhanced by Everton winning yesterday – something which has put the relegation cat amongst the pigeons. All of a sudden Leeds United finding destiny outside of their own hands. That final fixture of the season could be huge. All that’s to come, though. For now we need to focus on matters at hand. Namely our own top ten aspirations and a trip to Old Trafford.

This one really has it all to play for. A win for Brentford will take us to tenth in the table with just three games to play. Manchester United are eating dinner in the last chance saloon if Champions’ League qualification is the aspiration. Like Watford at the other end, only maths are keeping them alive. 8 points from fourth place with three games to play. The Bees with a wonderful chance to pull the plug on their life support before the inevitable blow is dealt by one of the many tams above them winning an actual game. With the Theatre of Dreams (TM) more a place of nightmares at present, there will never be a better chance. Morale seems to be worse than that of the studio audience at a live recording of Mrs. Brown’s Boys as Brendan O’Carroll fluffs his lines once more and they need to go again. Will the torture ever end?

For Brentford, there was great news in that both Kris Ajer and Christian Norgaard are expected to return. Magnificent though their respective covers did in the Spurs game, I can’t imagine Thomas Frank will mess around with making them fight for their place. Both players are just too good to leave on the bench if they are fit. Hardly cutting edge insight, granted, but at this point in the season the line up is largely settled and the team – now working around the magnificent Christian Eriksen – are on fire.

View from the away end – Christian shows how much it means at Chelsea

All the predictions of doom and gloom continue to be thrown back in the faces of those who utter them. 20th was the call before the season began. Relegation was the call as we hit that mid-winter blip. Even as recently as Saturday afternoon the team line up prompted reactions such as ‘Where are the centre backs’ and ‘Just seen the line-up. Time to stick a straw straight into a bottle of gin’. Again, the critics left with copious amounts of egg on face as Brentford again did what we’ve been doing all season.

Tonight will be no different. My online bookmaker (used purely for research purposes) has Brentford at 18/5. Manchester United 22/31. To be fair, a lot tighter than games against the clubs chasing Europe normally are but still a clear winner has been targeted by the bookies. And? It’s nothing new. We have the spirit. We have the form. We have the passion and the ability to pull it out the bag as seen at Chelsea. At West Ham. Against Liverpool, and Arsenal. That never say die spirit that has kept us going until the last kick of every game. Blood and guts turning draws into wins. 

And we have a green jacket. Cinderella, you shall go to the ball. After missing out on this one for a whole plethora of reasons, an 11th hour saviour has sailed in to view. Now, there is the offer of a return trip and a ticket. Jurassic Park!! I’m in. As the message went: “ I need to know if the green jacket will be making an appearance…

It has now been worn six times at games. It has seen 16 points. 

Norwich (a) W.

Burnley (h) W.

Chelsea (a) W

West Ham (h) W

Watford (a) W

Tottenham (h) D  – albeit worn by Mrs B due to yours truly’s enforced absence.

Could this luckiest of lucky totems inspire further glory? Or is it just down to Christian Eriksen? A mere coincidence that the run has matched those games he has started for Brentford.

En-route to another three points. This time, Watford.

As for Manchester United, they give the impression of a team intent on shooting themselves in the foot time and again. Only Cristiano Ronaldo, that talismanic tour de force, with his unpredictability and almost super human talent, able to offer any vague hope of salvation at the moment. A player who despite his own desperately sad personal news in recent works, still drives onwards. Still pulls the goals out the bag and the team out of the mire.

As we’ve said on the pages many times, an 18 month spell working in Manchester back in 2007-08 meant that I was often that most odious of species – an Old Trafford football tourist. The cliches about fans living down South all true as a colleague, who shared a pair of season tickets with three fans from London, often found he had a spare for midweek games. If Brentford weren’t playing at the likes of Accrington Stanley (coldest. away game. ever), Bury or Stockport County then what else was there to do of an evening? Amongst other visits I was there for the night Ronaldo defied logic and gravity to score ‘that’ free kick against Portsmouth. It is ability of that level that still sets the alarm bells off, even now – fourteen years later.

Still. That was then. This is now. Last night I had a strange dream (involving the fact that I somehow watched the game on Sky 24 hours before kick off) that Brentford win 3-1. Then, our Harry got up from bed, came out of his room and the first thing he said to me was, “Dad – we’re going to win 3-1 tonight.” .

Insert Twilight zone jingle. The go directly back to the bookie’s website for some further research. Undue optimism or is there something in the air? At 35/1, it would seem churlish not to have a nibble. Will it come off? I can’t wait to find out. See you there. Have jacket, will travel.

Until then, here’s the Tottenham catch up and player review….

Nick Bruzon 

Will it be case of Hakuna Matata (it means ‘No Worries’) at Vicarage Road?

16 Apr

Hello. Hello. What have we here? Two London derbies down. Two wins under the belt. Two to go. With Brentford having blown Chelsea off the park at Stamford Bridge and then disposed of West Ham in a style akin to a cat toying with a spider, April continues apace. Before the visit from Tottenham next Saturday, today we travel to Watford for what is, arguably, a game where form could go out of the window. With the Championship approaching at a rate of knots, will we get the Watford who have lost four of their last five home games? The Watford with the worst home record in the Premier League this season (they’ve lost 12 out of the 15 games played)? The Watford who could emulate the feat of Birmingham City in 1985-86 and lose ten consecutive top flight games?

Or will the desperation of trying to hang on to top flight status mean Brentford are up against a team possessed ? One with nothing to lose – the game aside – by going full tilt from the off. After going down 3-0 to Leeds United in a result our own super-computer had marked as a home win, the Hornets really are now starting to warm up the vocal chords in the last chance saloon.

So far, so good in April

I love the unpredictability of football. Nobody expected Brentford to humble Chelsea. To be fair, nobody expected Chelsea to give Real Madrid the fright they did in what turned out to be the narrowest of second leg defeats in Europe during the week. Thankfully, that one went as predicted as it means our own game with Tottenham remains on a Saturday rather than the graveyard shift of Sunday lunchtime (only Monday nights are worse). Nobody expects Watford to offer much resistance this afternoon, either. Moreso after falling apart against Leeds United  – oh, the irony – last time out.

That’s dangerous thinking. For now, they’re still standing but anyone thinking they’re going to sacrifice Premier League status without a fight is in for a bumpy afternoon. There’s nothing more dangerous than a caged hornet backed into a corner. Or should that be what looks like a moose? Red deer rather than catering obsessed narcissist. The Bees are under genuine danger of being hit by a rocket, man. Kitchen sinks being thrown from the off. The big question being how we cope? Suck it up and catch them on the break or take the game to opponents for whom top flight survival is a commodity that is hanging by an ever unravelling thread.

Well, the good news is that, if anything, Brentford now have too many options available. Cripes, imagine saying that earlier in the season. Still, unlike David Moyes we’ve never bleated about it as an excuse for defeat. Poor West Ham. How is Kurt, by the way? The bitch is back. And I love it. Zouma getting everything he deserved and moreso last time out. Take that, you cat kicking fool.

Thomas was left purring with delight after the West Ham game

Now, however, the tables are turned. We have choice. The midfield trio of Christian Eriksen, Christian Norgaard and Vitaly Janelt have been inspired in recent weeks. Having one of the best players in world football will do that to you. Even better news came out of the press conference with confirmation that Josh Dasilva is available once more. Thomas Frank telling the massed ranks of the media that he will be involved with the squad, adding, “Fingers crossed he can stay fit and avoid strange red cards so we see more of him. My take is that a fit Josh Dasilva would have been one of our best performing players this season. “

Given the health update –  “He is nowhere near top fit because we need to ease him into it, and it will probably take a couple of weeks before we really see the best of him”  – one can only expect Josh to start on the bench. What an option to have though? What we’ve seen of him so far this season since finally recovery form that injury has been nothing short of wonderful. Now, the prospect of seeing a midfield with Dasilva and Eriksen is one which has all Brentford fans drooling. Ivan Toney must be licking his lips at the prospect.

Also back is Pontus Jansson after missing out against West Ham with illness. Just as in midfield, there are now tough choices to be made in the back line. Thomas Frank has showed he’s not afraid to make the big calls, though. To mix things up and stay a step ahead of the opposition. Cripes, if the home support can’t read it what must our opponents think.

Back fours against Norwich and Burnley saw us revert to five at Chelsea, with Mads Roerslev quite wonderful in the right channel. His reward was to make way for Kris Ajer last week as we once again became a four. Good luck working out what we do today but, being realistic, it is the midfield where this game is going to be won or lost. Whether in containing and breaking or taking the game to Watford ourselves.

Will our captain regain his place now fit again?

For what its worth, I expect us to try and dictate the pace. Whichever line up Thomas has gone for, the approach has been one of going for it from the off. That twenty minute burst where the Bees look to assert themselves. Snuffing out the opposition as easily as a candle in the wind before they can get into the game.

Sitting back has rarely worked well, regardless of whether we are playing Liverpool or Leeds United. I can only expect more of the flair seen in the last month as we aim to make it three league wins in a row.

I can’t wait for this one. It’s not going to be easy. And that’s just the getting to Vicarage Road where the travel has already been decimated thanks to bank Holiday engineering works. All being well, it’ll be worth the effort. Limbs from the Bees faithful. Sad songs from our hosts.

If nothing else, we’ve still got the green jacket. Regular readers to this page know the current win ratio Hakuna Matata indeed. It means no worries !

From Carrow Road to Stamford Bridge and beyond – the stats don’t lie

Just saying. See you there.

Until then, if you’d like to read more then here’s the West Ham review.

Nick Bruzon  

That’s how your cat felt. Bees do it on and off the pitch.

11 Apr

Ian Moose – your boys took one hell of a… etc etc etc. Brentford have done it again. Hot off the heels of last weekend’s 4-1 demolition of Chelsea, another London derby victory has been earned. This time around our 2-0 defeat of West Ham at Lionel Road as comfortable as they come. The three points earned at the Olympic stadium in October repeated in front of our home support. With a late surge toward the top half of the table still on (as it stands the Bees sit just a solitary point behind tenth placed Crystal Palace ) the forthcoming trip to relegation threatened Watford is as big a fixture as we will have played all season.

Fun in the sun at Lionel Road

Brentford made it look as easy as the scoreline suggests on Sunday. The game always well under control with second half goals from Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo eventually dealing the inevitable blow. West Ham not even close to coming second. Brentford clinical as the pressure on our opponents grew.

By that point they had already been forced into a defensive reshuffle. Kurt Zouma limping off after less than half an hour following his second visit from the medical staff. “Call the RSPCA” quipped one terrace wag as chants of “That’s how your cat felt” rung around the majority of Lionel Road.

One has to wonder how much of blessing in disguise it was for Zouma. Finally running out of lives well before his ninth after after coping dog’s abuse (or should that be…) every time he touched the ball.

The programme cover that never was

The substitution made little difference. Brentford dominating the midfield and slowly turning the screw. Bryan should probably have put us ahead in the first half. He made no mistake just two minutes in to the second. Ivan Toney with a wonderful assist before doubling the lead. His header home this time being served up on a plate by Mbeumo after Rico had sent an inch perfect cross over the box to the back stick.

Not even Said Benrahma could make a difference when he came on for the final half-hour. A glimmer of his wonderful talent on show but the former Bees’ hero unable to make any impact on or through a resolute midfield. Eriksen wonderful. Norgaard equally so. Brentford now having won every game the former has started. The same win ratio applying to yours truly’s lucky green jacket.

The sartorial masterpiece, obviously, remains the real reason for another three points.

The stats don’t lie…

Those looking downwards hopefully feeling a touch less stressed now. Defeats for Watford at home to Leeds United and Burnley at Norwich City mean the bottom three are looking further adrift. Everton beating an absolutely woeful Manchester United on Saturday lunchtime casting further consternation to the clubs below that dotted line. 

For those with eyes on the upper echelons of the table there remains huge cause for optimism. April has already seen us taking 6 points from 6 in London derbies. The month is completed by Watford away and then a visit from another Champions League chasing club, Tottenham. At this rate, anything is possible.

It’s not so much the margin of victory as the style of play now being shown by Brentford. Back to our free styling Championship best, despite playing clubs with genuine aspirations of making Europe’s top table. Thomas Frank not afraid to mix things up again with a return to the back four set up and Mads Roerslev missing out alongside the unwell Pontus Jansson. Perhaps harsh on the young Dane after doing so well against Chelsea but at the end of the day, Clive, we’ll all point to the win as being all that counts.

Next up, Watford. There’s no midweek fixture and so a chance to take stock. To rest any tired limbs. To wonder just what the heck Matthew Benham needs to do to persuade Christian Eriksen to stay on for another season. The crowd love him. The team feed off everything he does. The smile is ever present on his face. Could fate be smiling on us? Just offer him a green jacket, Matthew…

Until then there’s not much else to do beyond reflect on all we have achieved so far. There are only 7(seven) Premier League games to go and Brentford have defied just about every critic’s pre-season prediction. The MOTD2 team would talk about West Ham having a thin squad whilst battling on two fronts. David Moyes would take about circumstances. 

Poppycock. Brentford weren’t whinging when our paper thin set up was decimated by injury or covid. So let’s get some kudos where it is due. For yours truly, the glass remains as full as ever. The wheels may already be coming off the super-computer’s predictions about the bottom three (although if Leeds Untied could fall apart, again, that would be amazing) but as everything else outside of Lionel Road is only a distraction, let’s not hold too much to that for now.

The player review is now up and can be found here as published.

For now here’s to a happy Monday and then we can start prep for Watford. I’m already full of anticipation for that one. See you there.

The gap at the bottom is growing

Nick Bruzon

Where do you go from last weekend?

9 Apr

Even a week on, it’s impossible not to still be smiling if you are a Brentford fan. The 4-1 humping administered to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (even Real Madrid only got a 3-1 there a few days later) up  with the very best we’ve ever witnessed our Bees on the road. Think how incredible it was seeing Yoanne Wissa grab that late, late winner at West Ham earlier in the season then multiply the feel-good factor by a zillion. The same player doing the same thing at Stamford Bridge, although of course, but that point the game was well out of sight. Chelsea supporters had already performed an exemplary fire drill routine at the far end and this time the goal was the cherry on the icing on the cake.  An afternoon that will live long in the memory and now one that gives the chance to step on with Sunday’s visit from West Ham.

Players celebrating with the fans as the goals fly in

Brentford will be chomping at the bit to get back out there. To pick up where we left off at Chelsea. A week to recover from the huge shift put in sees the same matchday squad available. Josh Dasilva still misses out although, incredible though it sounds to say this, even fit he’d have been doing well to force his way in – such was the performance last weekend. Instead, the main decision Thomas Frank has to make will be whether to tick with the 3 centre backs or revert to the traditional back four employed in the defeats of Norwich City and Burnley. 

Nobody saw it coming at Carrow Road ; even when the team was announced. People expected more of the same at Stamford Bridge. Including yours truly. Instead, switching back to our more defensive set up actually resulted in one of our most devastating performances of the campaign. Brentford very much pushing up with Christian Eriksen dominant. Everything will, one again, go through him when we step out against West Ham. He’s just too good not to. That’s not to diminish the performance of anyone else with Brentford showing just how good we can be when everybody is on their game. When the balance is right. When you play with confidence. When the crowd are behind you. The reverential hush of Stamford Bridge shattered by the non-stop roar from the Bees’ faithful. What a huge difference it made.

Christian Eriksen – the superlatives are fast running out

 I’ve given up trying to outthink or predict what Thomas Frank will do. For all the snide comments about our head coach and our squad, we’re doing phenomenally. We’re pulling the results out of the bag. The Norwich, Burnley and Chelsea games have seen 9 goals and nine points.

The only recent blip being Leicester City away. Even that could, perhaps should, have been different but if nothing else, the absence of that man Eriksen showing just how important he is to us. Enjoy him while you can and keep everything crossed we’re somehow able to talk him in to staying for another season.

The Bees can feel hard done by at Leicester City

As for West Ham, they’re likely to be in as fine spirits as ourselves. Thursday night saw a 1-1 draw with Lyon in the Europa League quarter-finals. The chance of reaching the last four still very real, although David Moyes is playing the ‘league places’ card and (outwardly) very much fighting on two fronts. Will he freshen up with the fringe players or go for broke? All but two of his starting XI lasted the full 90 minutes against Lyon and with much of the game played with 10 men (Aaron Cresswell seeing red just before half-time) will changes come? Will the focus be on what is a very realistic chance of lifting a European trophy?

One has to hope so. If for no other reason it’ll give them the chance to move on from 1966 or winning the FA Cup in 1980. Trevor Brooking’s header now 42 years on although you’d be forgiven for thinking it was yesterday.

Whomever David Moyes goes with, Said Benrahma will be keen to impress. There was no doubting the love for him from Brentford fans in his time with us. Thanks to Covid we never got to say a proper goodbye whilst the game at the Olympic stadium saw his threat nullified. He’ll likely start this one, too. If for no other reason than being the one to make way at half-time as David Moyes rejigged his side to cope with their self-inflicted on pitch deficit. As ever, the solution will be in taking the game to our opponents and cutting out the playmaker. In keeping the ball, breaking at pace and pinging it around with precision. Rico, Bryan and Christian (Eriksen) will be key to this. 

What a swansong from Said.

Sunday is going to be huge. For both teams. Brentford can still make the top ten of the Premier League. Every win and point will be vital. West Ham will have even loftier ambitions, sitting just three points behind fourth placed Tottenham as it stands. It’s frustrating to have had the game pushed back a day but that’s always the risk as we hit the business end of the season. Instead, today can be spend watching the next stage of the relegation battle. If nothing else, the midweek review of those teams facing the drop (and calling the final three) has very much upset Leeds United fans. Barely anyone else took the bait although I still stand by that call. Everton  – Manchester United this lunchtime is going to be fascinating.

There may be more games moved, in theory. Brentford official shared the below update following the Chelsea – Real Madrid game. So the game with Tottenham will be played on Saturday 23rd April, then.

Until then, the ‘top five’ player review from the Chelsea game is online and up.  Talk about tough decisions to be made – of the best sort.

Sadly, 11 into 5 just won’t go. No matter how much you try to crunch the numbers.

As a final thought, I may be biased but the cover for tomorrow’s matchday programme is just stunning. Top, top work from Dave Flanagan. Very much a work of art and poster quality stuff. May well have to get one of these framed up. 

Top cover art from Dave

For what its worth, I think it’s his best of the season to date. Hats off all round for the team that put this one together. As much for the decision not to go with a cat motif. Kurt Zouma, we’re looking at you. Meow. 

I can’t wait for this one. The sun is out and the place is buzzing. Bring it on and see you there.

I’d have gone for the cat cover

Nick Bruzon

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

Post-match debrief. Player review as Brentford rout Chelsea in battle of Stamford Bridge.

5 Apr

Is there anything else can be said off the back of Brentford trashing Chelsea 4-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday ? Well, yes. As Thomas Frank and his side now get ready for the weekend’s visit of 1980 FA Cup winner’s West Ham, we look back at the game just gone. 

What an afternoon at Stamford Bridge

As ever at this point, time to see who was the Brentford star man. Who made the top five against Chelsea? Can we whittle it down from a choice of 11? Does Josh Dasilva have any hope of breaking into the starting XI against 1966 World Cup winners West Ham on Sunday? Who is leading the hunt for our overall top-rated (on a game by game basis) player of 2021-22.

The answers can be found in the Gameweek 31 review, which can be found here….

Nick Bruzon

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

3 Apr

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s the lead!

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

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

There’s the third goal

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

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

And that’s four…

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

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

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

Pontus shows what the fourth goals mean

Nick Bruzon

Brentford have nothing to lose and everything to gain at Chelsea.

2 Apr

Another international break is done and dusted. Brentford are back in action with the visit to Chelsea this Saturday afternoon. This, the first of four London derbies that take place over April with the trip to Stamford Bridge followed by West Ham (h), Watford (a) and then the month being completed with the televised visit from Spurs. Having gone down 2-1 at Leicester City last time out, it’s probably fair to say that an improbable last tilt at the European places is now off the table but top ten is still feasible. Just 6 points separate us and a Foxes team currently straddling the meridian line that separates top from bottom in the Premier League. 

It was good to clear the head over the last two weeks. There has still been a feast of football to enjoy. And the England games, too, where Harry Maguire became the target of the domestic boo boys because, well go figure. Football, eh? Sorry, sorry. Supporters pay for their tickets so their own players are fair game. Apparently. On a more positive note, there was a debut for David Raya when Spain beat Albania whilst Christian Eriksen made all the headlines with not one but two goals in his two games for Denmark.

Just about everything he does puts a huge smile on the face. I still can’t believe he’s playing for Brentford and his goals during the break were of the highest quality. Game by game he’s looking better and better. The West London derby will be all the better for his return to the side after missing out at Leicester with Covid. Who knows what might have been had he been available for that one.

Instead, he gets the chance to face a Chelsea side who may have half an eye on the midweek Champions League quarter-final with Real Madrid. If nothing else, how often do these three teams get mentioned in the same paragraph in genuine context? Times are changing  – and for the better.

Whilst Eriksen was the main talking point our other Christian, Norgaard, was there with the assist for the goal against the Netherlands whilst Mathias Jensen also made it on the pitch – meaning at one point Denmark had that triple Brentford midfield. With Josh Dasilva back from his red card suspension but now suffering from a hamstring injury, expect the same again at some point today – albeit Vitaly Janelt likely to start over our number 8.

As for David Raya, what a moment in Spain. A first international appearance and something reflective of the wonderful form he has been in this season for Brentford. The only blot on the night being the equaliser his team conceded just prior to retaking the lead. Even that was one given a huge helping hand, or should that be face, by Myrto Uzuni. The goalscorer didn’t know much about an attempted clearance from Francisco Torres, who rather than guiding a hoofed long ball back to his ‘keeper, left Raya flat-footed after steering into the Albanian’s face and then past our man. Certainly one for the dubious goals committee but, regardless, surely the first of more to come for David.

Our artist (me) spent ceaseless minutes recreating this one – very much comic defence

His presence will be vital this afternoon. We all know how much he has been missed and how welcome his return has been since the FA Cup fourth round at Everton. Perhaps more important has been the formation shuffle that has seen us revet to a more traditional back four. Kris Ajer shunting to the right. Whether Thomas holds his nerve or reverts to type will be key. Personally speaking, I’d rather take the chance of sticking with what works. Playing the three CBs / two wing back combo at Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal saw the majority of the game spent on the back foot. Eventually, the pressure told and the goals (against) came. Whilst the trip to Highbury 2 almost saw what would have been a hilarious equaliser grabbed, the net result of all three has been nil points. 

Personally speaking, at this point in the season I’d rather we play confident and, at worst, go down fighting. The difference being we now have that man Eriksen to help drive us forward in a game where nobody outside of TW8 expects Brentford to come away with anything. It’s a free hit. Nothing to lose – everything to gain. The last thing on anybody’s agenda is one, or three, points for the Bees so why not just do what so well? Stick it to the opposition and rely on Pontus, Ethan and David to lock it up at the back. What’s the worst that could happen?

It’ll be a fantastic atmosphere today. At least, from the away fans for whom we now have a full house once more. The sanctions imposed on Chelsea now adjusted to allow for ticket sales. Let’s hope that other nonsense we’ve all seen has no place. Kudos to Thomas Tuchel for his own comments on that.

More importantly, the game is on! At one point yesterday I looked out the window to see a blizzard. In April. At best an unexpected outing for the orange ball. At worst, a possible P-P. Yet the snowflakes vanished as quickly as they arrived and so we’re all systems go. I can’t wait for this one. I can’t wait for this month. See you there and bring it on !!

Until then, here’s The Leicester City catch up…

Pack those travel cards

Nick Bruzon