Tag Archives: Chelsea

Pep talk from Thomas sees a night to remember.

30 Dec

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

Little toe plays finger onside

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you there.

Next up – this man makes a return…

Nick Bruzon

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

23 Dec

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

Brentford had no answer to Chelsea’s Tuchel bonus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The GPG may be on to something

Nick Bruzon

Brentford – Chelsea about as intriguing as they come.

22 Dec

The league cup semi-finals will be an all Premier League affair. With the last remaining EFL club, Sunderland, eventually succumbing on Tuesday evening, the three teams who join Arsenal will be decided tonight. Of course, top of our priority list is the game at Lionel Road between Brentford and Chelsea. Nobody needs a reminder as to how the league fixture turned out – one of the most pulsating encounters we’ve ever had the good fortune to witness – although that’s here if you would like to read more. The game Ben Chilwell described as “Hell on Earth” returns for round two, although whether the personnel remain the same this time around remains to be seen. Elsewhere there’s Tottenham – West Ham and Liverpool – Leicester City to decide who continues on the journey to Wembley.

Hey, we can say it now. Wembley.

Norgaard unleashes hell

As ever, the spectre of Covid raises its head. It feels like an eternity since we last saw a game and the jury remains out on whether we’ll be able to attend in the New Year. Wales and Scotland have already announced moves to start playing behind closed doors for a few weeks. One can only suspect Boris will eventually dither his way into a position where he has no remaining option left but to follow them once he has ‘saved Christmas’. Groan. Cheese and wine, anyone?

On pitch, things face a similar uncertainty. The good news for Brentford fans is that Thomas Frank has confirmed we have no positive cases in the squad. As it stands. Meaning everyone barring the injured contingent is available for selection. Might this include Matthew Cox who was all set to be parachuted into goal against Manchester United until they had to pull the game earlier this month? One way or another it would have been a debut to remember for the untried 18 year old and, surely, his time will come.

The lack of recent game time alone suggests Thomas will go as full strength as possible. The glut of games usually experienced at the time of year has been trimmed by the pandemic and, if anything, we’ll now have the players chomping at the bit to get 90 minutes under the belt once more. Or, at least, start. Then, there’s his own approach where he has been quite vocal about emulating last season’s run all the way to a semifinal with VAR and Tottenham. 

Urghhh

He used his press conference for this one to explain how it is a competition we have targeted from the off.  “Really, we want to go all the way. It’s one game at a time and the next game is against the European winners…. It’s already a statement that we are in the quarter-finals. We’d never made the semi-finals until last year. Can we do that one more time? That would be a massive statement.”

The biggest clue to starting XI then being his assertion that, “I can say we’ll put a full team out there. I don’t know what Chelsea will do.

Ahh, what will Chelsea do? One has to feel for Thomas Tuchel, in that he now faces the same levels of uncertainty we did a few weeks ago. Injuries and Covid tests are already hampering his preparation with Sunday’s 0-0 at Wolves seeing them name a reduced bench. He has spoken about having to start from scratch in terms of his own prep for tonight whilst the casualty list seems a lengthy one.

First World problems, I suppose. The squad is one that contains an embarrassment of riches and they are, for good reason, both Champions of Europe and genuine contenders for the Premier League title this season. Whomever Tuchel chooses to start / has left will, I am sure, give anyone a run for their money. Likewise, with a home crowd and a strong tea for Brentford, this has all the makings of another classic

Being honest, it still feels a bit weird going to a game at present given what’s out there in the news and the problems being faced by just about every club in the country. Then again, as many safety measures as possible are in place (do arrive early given the extensive Covid checks we have been warned about) whilst it would be hypocritical to pretend there was anything but excitement about going to football again. About seeing if our team can follow up on last season. About seeing if we can go, perhaps, one better. 

Hey, now we’ve broken the jinx at the W place, anything is possible.   

See you there. Stay safe. Let’s enjoy it whilst we can.

If Boris does end up cancelling anything this Christmas, please let’s hope he gets it right

Nick Bruzon

Can we be party poopers at the coronation of King Eddie?

19 Nov

And we’re back in the room. Brentford travel to Newcastle United this weekend on the back of a first real challenging streak in the Premier League. Recent form of LLLL takes no account of the performance against Chelsea or the shonky ref. Likewise Leicester City, where I’d imagine the midfield partnership of James Maddison and Simon Hooper will cause further mayhem for whomever they come up against next. As for Burnley and Norwich City. Hmmm . The Canaries will no doubt feel they deserved to win and three points will show this to be the case. The appointment of Dean Smith at Carrow Road something one could write an entire chapter on but that’s a subject for elsewhere. So we’ve been great, we’ve been unlucky and we’ve been downright awful. Injuries decimating us, too. Whatever the analysis and performance, it all comes down to wins. Or lack of. The net result is nil points and the hope that International break has helped recharge some batteries.

one of the few bright sparks recently

Which leads into Saturday afternoon. The game at Newcastle United is a sellout for the travelling fans. Presumably the home side, too, with Eddie Howe taking another opportunity to test himself away from Bournemouth. Things were average at Burnley (8th and 13th in the Championship) with his eventual departure for what were deemed at the time to be personal reasons and since confirmed as being due to the death of his mother rather than anything to do with being ‘homesick’ . That one’s here.

It’ll be manic at Newcastle. Their first home game under the new regime saw the lead taken against Spurs within three minutes before normal form resumed. Cripes, Spurs winning a game is reason enough to be worried about your own form but with the Magpies being the only top flight team yet to win a game, will the new incumbent have done sufficient in this relatively short time to change that around? 

Brentford head coach Thomas Frank gave a, perhaps, surprising assessment of the opposition in Thursday’s press conference. He’s told the massed ranks of the journalistic corps that: “We haven’t looked that much at Newcastle, apart from individual players, but rather what Eddie Howe did at Bournemouth in terms of shape and style. I expect them to come flying out, pressing us…. His profile is fantastic and stands for progressive football, front-footed pressing, and he wants to be dominant on the ball. I admired his job at Bournemouth a lot. I’m convinced that, over time, he will be a success at Newcastle

Over time. Let’s hope for sure it’s not immediate. Perhaps of more interst is his claim that we are not studying our opponents. One can only presume a bluff from Thomas that, surely, isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. Not even a cursory glance? Mind games and false messaging or just supreme confidence in our own ability, our own shape and our own players? Whatever that shape is and whomever they may be this time around.

With injuries continuing to bite there is some good news. Mathias Jensen is back from Denmark, has completed his quarantine following that Covid test result and so has been in training. Will he start or have recent performances now been deemed sufficient that a place on the bench is the best he can hope for? The availability of the broader midfield will determine that as much as anything else. Norgaard and Janelt nailed on starters for 2 of the 3 berths, even if the latter was below his best against Norwich. I felt.

Zanka will be assessed and Wissa is getting closer with Thomas due to decide today (Friday) if he is able to play some part. Likewise Shandon Baptiste who is deemed in contention to be in the squad. Kris Ajer and David Raya remain the key absences with the former due a scan at the end of the month to see how he is placed going forward.

For me, Clive, its as much as getting through this one unscathed. Obviously we want the win and there is still sufficient in the starting XI to beat just about anyone on our day. Yet with those much missed players starting to get close to a return, let’s not scupper this with any rushed return or further injury blow. Our luck on this front has been bad enough already. I’m amazed that Shandon Baptiste is where he is already after that dislocated shoulder but there you go. Hurrah for medical treatment. Yet with the busiest time in the calendar fast approaching, including that league cup quarter-final with Chelsea, keeping the squad fit is as crucial as picking up the points.

The atmosphere on Saturday is going to be nuts. All the focus on Newcastle United. Brentford nothing more than the bit part players at the coronation of King Eddie. The chance to be party poopers always a wonderful one.

I’ve no idea what any of Thomas’ talk means. Nobody will reveal their cards in public, that’s for sure. All we can say is that after the frustration of Burnley and Norwich, this is the perfect time for us to get back in the groove. Let’s hope we take it.

Bring it on and see you there.

Hopefully he won’t be smiling at full time

Nick Bruzon

It was hell on earth. Could the same happen again?

24 Oct

Sunday morning and another early start. The eSpresso has been drunk, last night’s washing up done and the cat fed whilst the rest of the family still sleep. Even the cat.  Hey, never let it be said that yours truly doesn’t lead a rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. Yet all of this mundane normality will explode out of the blocks in a few hours time. Brentford host Leicester City knowing that victory combined with a win for Liverpool could propel the Bees to fifth in the Premier League table (one of the teams having to get some combination of points in the Spurs – West Ham game makes fourth just out of sight). Having performed so well in recent weeks, moreso seeing how fellow promoted teams have fared against teams we’ve taken all the way (Chelsea hitting Norwich City for a 7(seven) goal bracketing yesterday), means we go in to this one with tails very much up.

A typical early morning in TW8

Bloody hell. The atmosphere, and performance, in the Chelsea game (Brentford rather Norwich) were like nothing else. Then again, we said the same after West Ham away and the 3-3 with Liverpool. Every time you think that things have got as good as they can, the team and the fans rewrite the form book. Last Saturday evening had just about everyone channeling their inner Dean Smith. We actually did deserve to win. It’s a real ‘break glass in case of emergency phase but for once, it rang so very true.

Of course, the record books will show we didn’t. Ben Chilwell’s goal separating the teams. True enough. Talking to friends and colleagues last week, all anyone outside TW8 could say was just how the heck had we been denied at least a point? The reaction was almost universal. Match of The Day showing the collection of wonderful saves, posts rattled and last gasp defending that kept us at bay. Kudos to Chelsea, btw. They did what they needed to and won the game. Yet seeing them dismantle Norwich City yesterday put it truly into context. Perhaps even more dramatically than Watford being obliterated by Liverpool the week after we were denied a famous victory over the Anfield side by nothing more than an offside flag.

It was a case of less Canaries and more headless chickens at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea with their pedal to the metal. Norwich, stuck in reverse and about as clueless as a Glenn Hoddle punditry masterclass. Just as at Lionel Road, the game started with the Champions of Europe pouring forward. Unlike the game at Lionel Road, the opposition crumbled and had no idea how to counter (or even contain) their opponents. The half-time assessment that with some substitutions Norwich might be able to play for the draw (they were 3-0 down at this juncture, having previously scored just 2 goals all campaign) was about as far fetched as it was just plain stupid. Instead, all we got was the aforementioned bracketing.

Let’s be clear. I’ve no particular love for Chelsea. Or any other club. At most, a lot of admiration for Norwich after they way they treated our Harry a few years back. Likewise, today’s opponents given the much needed shot of footballing romance they gave us all a few years back. If nothing else, the proof that the ‘elite’ don’t have it all their way.

Good times at Carrow Road. Pre kick-off

Ultimately though, in our house it’s all Brentford. At the same time, seeing how the three promoted teams have performed against the best in the land shows such a marked contrast as one can’t help but try to draw parallels. The respective results speak for themselves.  Watford 0 Liverpool 5 to Brentford 3 Liverpool 3.  Chelsea 7(seven) Norwich 0 to Brentford 0 Mendy Chelsea 1. Last season’s performance in the Championship counting for nothing now we’ve all stepped up. 

The one clear difference being that we were at home for both. My word, home. Talk about making that advantage count. Talk about not just raising the roof but ripping it off. The noise levels being generated have been stratospheric. Gargantuan. Like nothing we’ve ever experienced before. “It was hell on Earth, the last 20 minutes” being the considered verdict of Ben Chilwell last time out. 

Hell on earth at Lionel Road, last time out

We may not have the financial clout to match but we certainly have the passion. I’ve been in stadiums where we’ve played European Champions and missed out on promotion by play offs. And the atmosphere at Lionel Road is ten times better than that. It’s just about getting the balance right.

We had it at Griffin Park, of course. Who could forget the denouement to the 5-0 against Birmingham City or that afternoon against Preston North End? Then lockdown came, we were all stuck at home and denied football for the best part of an entire season, not to mention the end of the one before. Yet upon return its almost as if all the frustration of missing out has been bottled and the stopper now released. Seriously, being part of these crowds has been as much cathartic as anything else. Makes the missing out and the early morning washing up all that bit more bearable. Mostly, though, it plays a HUGE part in stifling our opponents and making Lionel Road a place to be feared. A genuine fortress. 

Leicester City are about as tough as opponents get. Just like Brentford, they’ll have the top quarter of the table in sight and, of course, have experienced their own huge morale boost. Namely that of coming from 2-0 down in Moscow to stride out as eventual 4-3 winners. Jamie Vardy spent the evening on the bench, with the Foxes four coming c/o of Patson Daka. Joy, another goal threat to contend with today and Kasper Schmeichel a man mountain at the other end. Having finally said farewell to one top class shot stopper in Edouard Mendy, we’re straight back up against another. Nobody sad it would be easy at this level !   

Foxes in Europe. Laboured wordplay and a half hour spent on photoshop yesterday so damn well going to use it again

Can I call it? No hope. All we can say is that if the Brentford faithful keep it as loud as we have done all season then we’ve every chance of lifting the boys onwards and upwards.

The bookies have the Bees as the outsiders, plus ça change, although at least we are deemed a little bit closer than in previous weeks. To be honest, it counts for naff all barring curiosity. All that matters is how we hit the ground at 2pm – on and off the pitch.

The bookies give Leicester the edge

Bring it on. See you there. If nothing else, there are Panini Cards to swap. Our Harry has a stack of doubles and is all set for the 1pm swap meet underneath the Family Section in the North West corner of the stadium. You can read about that on ‘official’.

Fingers crossed, the team can match his, and our, enthusiasm…..

Nick Bruzon

You’re Donald Trump, you are !! Although if Channel 4 are reading….

23 Oct

You don’t want to get into Europe Brentford. Frank out. Where’s the money, Benham? Fans were in outrage last night after the Bees slipped to tenth in the Premier League table. Last week’s mugging by Chelsea followed up by a win for Arsenal (not a typo) over Aston Villa in the weekend’s opening fixture. It was a result that saw the Gunners overtake the Bees prior to our game with Leicester City. That one held back until Sunday to allow for Foxes in Europe (if ever a TV series was just waiting to be made  – Edward, Amelia, Ruel, Megan and Michael J travelling around our favourite continent in a charabanc. Hilarity and chaos ensue. Lifelong friendships are forged. Brush and Fox get their own spin off series as a maverick detective and his ‘by the book’ partner) although their quite amazing 3-4 win at Spartak Moscow a game which eventually took place on Wednesday evening. Clearly, nobody was Russian back home.    

Foxes in Europe. We’d watch it? Yes? Maybe? Err….

Wastes half an hour on another flight of photoshop fantasy…..

All of which brings us back to reality. Of course there’s nobody calling for Thomas’s head (this season – we heaven’t forgotten….) and Channel 4 are unlikely to commission a fly on the wall road trip. Albeit I’d pay good  / some money to see Basil Brush giving it his all at St. Basil’s Cathedral. Oh Mr. Derek, will you ever learn? And instead, we’ve got the quite delicious prospect of Brentford V Leicester City to look forward to. Bring it on.

A game which comes hot on the heels of our own showdown with Chelsea last weekend. A game where I am still dumbfounded as to just how the equaliser failed to go in. Bravo, Edouard Mendy. What a ‘keeper. But the frustrating fact is that despite the best efforts of referee come panto villain Anthony Taylor, Brentford came away with nothing. League leaders Chelsea kept their place at the top of the table. That’s football. We put it behind us. Crying won’t change anything and, at least, we might get a decent referee this time.

Curse that ‘keeper. And that post

Checks fixture list. It’s Simon Hooper. Adopts foetal position and sobs gently on the kitchen floor. Simon ‘flipping’ Hooper. A man we crossed swords with many times in the EFL prior to his ascendency to the top flight. A man up there with Mr. Stroud in the ‘names to fear‘ list. Sometimes, life just isn’t fair. 

Hey, perhaps things are different now. Maybe he has become more settled? Here’s hoping. Moreso because a look back through the Last Word archives brings a somewhat frustrating reminder of just why there’s a need to be cautious. So, instead of talking more about the game we’ll wrap up here for the day and leave you with a selection of his greatest hits…..

For starters..

Meanwhile, Will Vaulks had drawn the wrath of the normally mild-mannered Thomas Frank following one obscene challenge on Norgaard. Referee Simon Hooper and his assistants failing to produce the red card required in such a situation. But this summed up Hooper – for both sides. He had an absolute stinker from start to finish. That’s not meant as bitterness – he was as poor towards the home side as he was the visitors. Both sets of supporters ending the day feeling hard done by and, being honest, Cardiff City probably more as they cranked up the pressure in the second period.

How about….?

Man of the match Lewis Macleod and Ryan Woods pulling the strings in the middle whilst referee Simon Hooper pulled our legs erm, in the middle. His sending off of substitute Romaine Sawyers for two yellow cards, the second of which was softer than than the avalanche of snowflakes that filled the air, rounded off a poor afternoon for the man in black. The visiting players surrounding a referee who should have been stronger after what was, at best, an accidental coming together. Yet his missing the opportunity to insist on an orange ball (one day, it will come back) should have perhaps warned us what to expect.

Then there’s our headline (that’ll be what sitting near Alex ‘Angry Dad’ Austin does. The culprit remains nameless…)

“You’re Donald Trump, you are”, shouted one young fan at referee Simon Hooper. The yellow card waved at the Bristol City man engendering the wrath of supporters who had been closer to the assault than the man in the middle. Thankfully, the enthusiastic young Bee (Sergi, rather than our own political commentator) was soon back on his feet to administer the perfect payback – an opening goal as he fired home from a parried free kick on 18 minutes.

Moving swiftly on….

And, as ever, we start at Griffin Park where there isn’t a huge amount to add off a game where referee Simon Hooper dominated affairs. A shame, as it meant that first time around  we were denied moments such as this…..

And one last hit…

Talking of Christmas puddings (oh, the crowbarring…) referee Simon Hooper was giving out no gifts (the penalty to Cardiff for their opener, aside) as he enraged the Griffin Park faithful, management and players – with Harlee Dean being awarded a yellow card for his (correct) protests at yet another stonewall penalty being turned down.

Bring it on. I think. See you there. Hoping a leopard has changed his spots…

Come on Simon. Please prove us wrong.

Nick Bruzon

Bee keeper (outer) wins plaudits and game. What an evening at Lionel Road.

17 Oct

It was hell on Earth, the last 20 minutes”. Not my words Carol, but those of Chelsea goalscorer Ben Chilwell. Ordinarily a phrase used to describe being in the studio audience for a recording of Mrs. Brown’s Boys but this time a reference to Brentford throwing the kitchen sink, and more, towards the impregnable goal at the West Stand of Lionel Road. My word. With the Bees trailing to the England man’s piledriver just prior to half-time, it was a final phase of gameplay as intense as just about any ever seen. Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy was in inspired form, using everything from his hands to his face to keep Brentford out.  When he was finally beaten there was Trevoh Chalobah to clear off the line, Bryan Mbeumo saw one crash back off the post (not for the first time this game) whilst there were more scrambles than an early 80’s video arcade. That’s before you even chuck the machinations of ‘referee’ Anthony Taylor into the mix. Cripes, he was utterly horrific. The Bees were incredible but came away with nothing beyond heads held high. Moreso given the earlier results which saw fellow promoted team Watford absolutely hammered at home to Liverpool. 5-0 to the visitors the final score there.

Crudely photoshopped match analogy. Sorry, but it’s too early for quality control.

What can you say? The usual phrases of pride and deserving to win. Perhaps this is what Dean Smith means when he uses his oft quoted line. But we didn’t. Frustratingly. Brentford dominated the later stages of the second half to such an extent that, surely, it was only a matter of time before the equaliser came? Surely? The arrival of Marcus Forss for Frank the Tank giving new impetus and drive as we took the game to Chelsea. Yet every time we broke, there was a wall of blue to somehow keep it out. There was Mendy, that magnificent man in orange, to pull of a series of worldies that had Bees fans so far off the edge of our seats we cold have been on the pitch with them. Willing the ball in and kicking every ball alongside.

When Christian Norgaard suddenly found room in stoppage time, his control and bicylce kick had an almost slow motion feel to them. Matrix style bullet time playing out around us as the Dane positioned himself, caught the ball on his chest and executed a quite wondrous strike with his back to goal. Yesssss!!!! 1-1. Nooooooooo….  There was Mendy to get an outstretched hand to it and push the ball on to the bar. An incredible effort and a save equal to it. A save better than any he had already pulled off and showing why there is such uproar at his lack of nomination for the Ballon d’Or .

It was intensity like none seen before. The team willed on by another vociferous Lionel Road crowd as we chased a game that had looked for so long like slipping away. Chelsea started this one with Brentford not even able to get close. Given no room to make space as the European Champions pinged it around with ease and snuffed out any attempt by the Bees to push forward as easily as blowing out a candle. We weren’t even second but then, as against Liverpool,  confidence arrived and we were in a game. Bryan hit the post in a crowded box when for a moment it seemed he would emulate Ethan in that previous home game. Immediately, Chelsea stormed down the other end for Romelu Lukaku to find the back of the net, only to be denied by the Lino’s flag. 

But with the game alive and Brentford, at times, feeling as though we were hanging in there, Chilwell was left unattended on the edge of the box and hammered one through a crowd of players, past the despairing dive of David Raya and into the back of the net. A thunderbolt shot and nothing that could be done the moment it left his boot. It had been coming. The visitors dominant in that opening period but never quite striding clear, until now. Referee Anthony Taylor beginning to earn the wrath of the home fans. Something that only escalated as the game progressed.

For those among us grateful at Keith Stroud missing out on promotion to the top flight, be careful what you wish for. Taylor was everything the Chelsea supporters had built him up to be and beyond. Ivan Toney in particular given zero protection from an official set to random. 

There are no words to describe how seemingly inept he was. Hey, perhaps things look different at pitch level. Likewise, the approach adopted by Chelsea to counter our second half resurgence. Next level shithousery with players tumbling like skittles and clocks being run down for fun. Actually, I’ve no complaints about any team trying this. It’s a facet to our game that until recently (how are those gloves, David?)  has been long missing and if the ref is going to be this spineless then why not do anything you can to disrupt the flow? 

What is more telling is the fact that the Champions of Europe and league leaders had no choice but to resort to his level of gamesmanship against us. Against Brentford. There was no wining by outplaying the opposition but more in grinding the game down. As Mrs Bruzon said afterwards, “I’ve never seen them have to do that.” Perhaps we don’t watch enough TV football or maybe MOTD airbrush the cynicism away. For me Clive, that’s the biggest mark of respect we could have earned.

Close but, in the end, no cigar. Bees fans are talking about how proud they are and, whilst that is true, I’m ultimately left with a huge feeling of what might have been. We should have had a point and the fact we were kept at bay after playing so well is about as frustrating as it comes. You don’t get anything for being plucky. For playing out of your skin. By having some dubious moral justification to have earned something. Instead, its balls in the back of the net that count and despite the clear heroics, Chilwell’s howitzer was the ultimate difference between the teams.

We’ll learn from it. The key thing now is how we take what we’ve done, bottle it and then uncork the stopper when Leicester City come to visit next week. Brentford WERE immense. There’s no point crying over spilt points. Instead, its about picking ourselves up and using that combination of perceived injustice and what we’ve achieved so far this season to go forward.

And if you need a yardstick as to how well we are doing, then we only have to check the results from earlier in the day. Of course, our last home game had been that titanic 3-3 with Liverpool. They were back in the capital (or its hinterlands) for a trip to Watford. That one ended with the visitors humping the Hornets 5-0. Mo Salah with the pick of the bunch, waltzing through the home defence, the ball tied to his foot with a piece of string.

So, yes. I am feeling hard done by this morning. It was a stunning game of football and one has to acknowledge who we were up against. Compared to Watford and Norwich who both finished above us in last season’s Championship, Brentford have so far looked the strongest by a country mile. So far. The season still has along way to go but if we carry on like this then things are going to be alright. Just as long as the injuries don’t bite…

Until then, here’s to Brentford. Here’s to the Champions of Europe. Here’s to a visit from Leicester City. Bring them on and see you there.

Bryan was denied by the post. Twice. This one in the second half

Nick Bruzon

Is this the Chelsea starting XI? Time for more football romance and stupid dreams.

16 Oct

Silly o’clock. Been awake since 3.37am and there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, going on at this ungodly hour. Mrs B and little H are both fast asleep. Even Bentley the cat is yet to howl the house down at the first tread on a creaky floorboard. The internet has been surfed and vinyl I can’t afford bought. Hey, those Bluetones records missing from the collection aren’t going to buy themselves. Brentford shirts are yet to be acquired but the usual sites have a dearth of anything even vaguely interesting. We’ve got Chelsea this evening and I’d love to say the early start is due to excitement at the prospect of their visit but it isn’t. Nothing more than a warped body clock combined with good old fashioned insomnia. Hurrah! 

On the plus side, it IS the weekend. We’re back in action and at the time of writing, social media is already a litany of anticipation. Trips to Lionel Road already underway (Paul Ridley via Barcelona, we’re looking at you in particular) but there is also trepidation about referee Anthony Taylor building. Primarily from the Chelsea fans, it seems. Is there some beef there? 

Goes to Internet. Checks. Ah, yes. It would appear to be the case. The Daily Mail – with apologies for adding to their ‘hits’  – describes Mr Taylor as the club’s ‘nemesis’. Blues fans apparently ‘dreading’ the return of a man they launched a petition against after sending off Reece James for hand ball in the season opener with Liverpool. 

Been there. Done that. Had Keith Stroud on numerous occasions. Pain shared. Albeit attempting the route of petition is a step not even Brentford fans have undertaken. A gesture as futile as having a studio audience for a live recording of Mrs. Brown’s Boys. Any ‘laughs’, surely, coming from the canned track.   

Blue isn’t the colour

Of more importance is who Chelsea run out with today. Good luck getting that right. The usual barometer of starting XI selection, Fantasy Football scout, is predicting several absences (Ampadu, Batshuayi, Thiago Silva, Emerson, Pulisic and Rüdiger aswell as several doubts). You can read their full fat appraisal here. However, even accounting for missing faces it is a line up that still looks immense. What hope do Brentford have in stoping this? In winning the West London derby and stopping our visitors from setting a record of 7(seven) wins on the bounce again teams in the capital. Aside from Anthony Taylor?

Predicted line up from FF scout

Well the great news is that Kris Ajer and Vitaly Janelt are both fit again after missing out at West Ham. Oh, those salty tears from the home fans are still as sweet as they were two weeks ago. Wissa you bloody genius. Shandon Baptiste misses out – a dislocated shoulder will do that to you – but otherwise we’re all good. A central three of Vitaly, Frank the Tank and Christian Norgaard is about as obvious as it comes. Rico and Sergi as wing backs with Ivan and Bryan up top. I can’t imagine any surprises from Thomas with a line up that should have the right balance of silk and steel to upset the bookies (still 26/5), the record books and the opposition.

Hey, one can dream. You have to though. The whole Premier league experience has been so utterly ridiculous thus far that why not keep on riding the crazy train? Wishful thinking and blind optimism have long overtaken common sense and logic. Results coming the way of a team and fanbase who are having nothing but fun. An experienced squad, bolstered by shrewd aquisitions, playing out of their skins in a consequence free environment. Nobody expects us to win. Nobody gives us a hope. Yet, somehow, the points keep on coming. Somehow we keep on defying the odds.

It still feels like relatively early days but after today we’ll be over a fifth of the season done. Brentford go into the game four points behind league leaders Chelsea. European Champions Chelsea. My word, if ever there was incentive to go for the win then here it is. Not that we ever play for anything except a win (the end of Brighton aside). 

The return of Buzz ended up being the highlight of the Brighton game

It was said pre-season that the only club we genuinely thought would outplay us were Manchester City. So far, there’s been nothing to alter that perception albeit we’ve had to be at the absolute top of our game. The way Chelsea have started, and played, only a fool would fail to lump them into that bracket of likely Champions and top ranked teams. More than a few FIFA setting above the Bees when you look at this with a factual perspective. But, as has been noted, we don’t do that.

Sure, they’d beat us 9 times out of 10 if you run the numbers. Perhaps even 10 out of 10. But football doesn’t work like that. Lionel Road is no ordinary place. Brentford a quite unique team. A bus stop club stepping out against a fleet of limousines. A fan base who raise the roof like no other. Give me our football romance and stupid dreams over squads worth hundreds of millions any day of the week. It keeps the blood pumping. The anticipation of a win rather than the expectation gives added edge so sadly lacking for those clubs for whom three points and silverware are the de rigueur lifestyle choice.

I go into this one with utter respect for what they have achieved. For where they sit. No question. And the same feelings are extended to Chelsea. Our boys have had a magnificent opening few months. Can it continue tonight? Roll on kick off. See you there.

West Ham away – last time out was wonderful. Especially the 94th minute

Nick Bruzon

A Twitter spat, illustrious opponents and swaps. Just another day in the top flight.

15 Oct

Magnificent. We’ve woken up to another ‘Teams like Brentford’ meltdown and the somewhat unusual phrase of Brentford 4th trending on Twitter. The reason being that, apparently, that’s where a supercomputer has predicted we’ll finish the season. Saturday’s opponents Chelsea are, apparently, going to be champions with Liverpool and Manchester City joining us at Europe’s top table next campaign. What quite makes a computer ‘super’ over a regular one I have no idea but its all good fun. Primarily the reactions from supporters of other clubs. 

Cripes, I’m as confident as the next fan but even I’ve only settled for the Europa League next season. Whatever the ZX Spectrum (or whatever machine was used for this in no way clickbait calculation) has come up with, this sort of story is ten a penny every year. In every division. They’re never right but they get us talking. So why not? Anything that winds up Leeds United supporters is all the better in my book. Moreso, given it has them way down in 16th. Hey. Perhaps there is something in it.

Leeds defend another attack

It’s all a nice distraction ahead of tomorrow’s big game. We spoke a bit about the West London derby yesterday. Brentford host Chelsea in a 5.30pm kick off which is sure to be blighted by travel chaos. South West rail is out of action with no trains stopping at Brentford, Kew Bridge or Chiswick. Likewise, Gunnnesbury tube will be out of action before and after kick off.

Instead, those three awful words (not : Mrs Browns Boys) have surfaced: Rail Replacement Bus. May whichever deity you believe in have mercy on your mortal souls.

With Corona Virus checks now in place after the soft launch for the Liverpool game, never has it been more widely advised to aim for an early arrival at Lionel Road. On the plus side, there’ll be cheap beer and food, the dulcet tones of Stu Soccer AM doing his thing with Peter Gilham whilst for anyone collecting Adrenalyn XL (the Panini cards rather than an energy drink), our Harry has a huge favour to ask. 

Has anyone in the North Stand anyone got any swaps? Assuming we can access it, he’ll be there by the Junior Bees bit at around 4.45 prior to kick off and then out the back of the vomitaries at half-time. Will tweet a location. For reasons unknown, although perhaps the £1 a packet cost has something to do with it, these aren’t hugely popular at his school. And whilst we have a surfeit of Bryan, amongst others, Sergi and Ivan are currently missing. Collecting has reached the stage where new packets are littered with more doubles than the darts and so if anyone can help then it would be hugely appreciated. 

Some of the many, many swaps that have caused the hole in my overdraft facility

As for the game, well its live on Sky for anyone that can’t make it. Lionel Road is again sold out with another racous atmosphere expected. It was tasty as when Liverpool came to town. Of course inside the stadium where we had the loudest away fans outside of Oldham in the cup but also outside. Prior to kick off Kew and Brentford were buzzing. There were even not one, not two but at least four half-and-half scarf sellers for us all to ignore. Truly, those fetid rags are the last refuge of the footballing damned. The crass hipsterfication of our beautiful game showing a real ugly side. If you really want a souvenir, buy a shirt or a programme. Then go get a beer with the change. 

Why? And don’t look at the socks

And talking of shirts, the alleged Jamie Bates matchworn has resurfaced on ebay. Good luck anybody bidding on that. The last month has already seen this one sold more times than Steve Claridge. Much as yours truly is always on the look out for anything old (and if anyone does have any they’d like to sell then I’ll always pay a very fair price) getting involved in this is a step too far.  

Somebody may want it..

Finally, just a HUGE thank you. For those slightly more regular visitors to these pages, the summer months had their usual flood of season review e-book activity. The story of our reaching the Premier League (primarily a load of these aswell as all the content produced for the programme) has been bundled up for Kindle / other and available for download. All money received from Amazon is then being donated to Rob Rowan’s CRY fund. Well, it has finally started trickling in (after Jeff has taken his cut) and is now being passed on each month. So a massive thank you for anyone who has downloaded. If you still wanted to then the link is here. Spoiler alert: for once, this one has a happy Wembley ending. Alternatively, anybody wanting to go direct to Rob’s page, you can find that one here.

Ok. That’s us done for today. Check out the BBC, Twitter, Beesotted and all the other usual sources for the actual quality content. For me, its all about family time and football this weekend. I can’t wait. Bring it on and see you there. Ideally, with cards…..

Could this be the shock of the weekend? Or is it now expected?

14 Oct

We’re back. Brentford host league leaders Chelsea this weekend with another international break done and the chance to see if we can build on the quite wonderful performances at home to Liverpool and then, last time out, away at West Ham. Final thoughts on those are in the forthcoming edition of the matchday programme (along with other nonsense, subject to editorial discretion, including one covid related tale of woe). Alternatively, the previous columns from these pages are here (Liverpool) or here (West Ham) for those wanting one more look back at what happened as the games unfolded and the aftermath was very much enjoyed. It all seems a lifetime ago already. There’s been a trip to Gibraltar for the World Cup qualifier with Montenegro in between and now, of course, we have the prospect of a visit from the European Champions.

West Ham away – wonderful. Especially the 94th minute

“We’re coming for you. We’re coming for you. Champions of Europe. We’re coming for you.” Thus went ‘that’ song. Ad-nauseam it felt at the time, as the Bees prepared for a 2013 FA Cup tie against the Stamford Bridge outfit. A strong opposition were held 2-2 at Griffin Park, with a late equaliser from Fernando Torres sparing Chelsea from copious amounts of egg on face.

For me, Clive, of course it was an exciting build but oh that song went on. And on. Much like Oldham’s. Focus on f’ing promotion rather than singing to opposition that weren’t even there, listening or gave a monkey about what was happening in League One.

Chelsea were almost given the elbow at Griffin Park in 2013

That was then. This is now. Better form in the FA cup, several seasons in the Championship and our own reaching the Premier League mean that as it stands games like this are the norm rather than ad-hoc flashes in the pan demanding their own song. A blistering start to top flight life means we’re currently sitting 7th (seventh) in the table. A win would put Brentford just one point behind the leaders and whilst, in theory, that sounds about as far fetched an aspiration as they come, the season has already been packed with more drama and wonderful performances than an episode of Dream Team. Get warmed up, lads.

Much missed. Especially former Bee Andy Ansah

Arsenal. Beaten. Liverpool. Held in that epic 3-3. West Ham. Crying. Wolves. Humped. Raya. Gloves needed changing. Only one defeat and that in the final minute of Brighton’s gamesmanship masterclass. The new signings bedding straight in, Kris Ajer especially, whilst Yoanne Wissa is already well en-route to becoming a cult hero. Come for the late goals. Stay for the celebration.

It has been quite the incredible start to a season that has seen this little bus stop in Hounslow punching above the weight and expectation levels of just about everybody outside TW8. Those inside the circle knowing what we can do and what to expect, even if at times it does seem against the realms of probability. That Liverpool game being the quintessential example of our never say die attitude and desire to attack until the death. The one time we’ve played super cagey, the last quarter of Brighton’s visit, our undoing had an almost Bees like inevitability about it. It’s Brentford, innit.

Wiiissssaaaaaaa. As calm as Peter Gilham isn’t

That’s not to say we’ll turn up and beat Chelsea. Cripes, if the fixtures so far have been tough then this is next level. A quick check on my Fantasy Football squad this morning is a bleak reminder of the strength they have in depth, let alone the starting XI. Whichever one they opt to go with.

For Brentford, subject to injury –  Shandon Baptiste’s shoulder being the primary concern – its a safe bet who will start this one. As ever. Thomas Frank has enjoyed the luxury of his preferred starting XI playing to such a level that the only real selection decision has been who to bring on and when. Thomas Tuchel could probably chuck the car keys in a bowl and still come up with a team that the bookies would fancy to romp home. 

Indeed, the Bees are this morning priced at 26/5 to take all three points. As ever, nobody gives us a real chance. No surprise. Our opponents are as strong as they come. Their record and consistency over the last twenty years speaks for itself. If we’ve hit the ground running then they’re next level. Romelu Lukaku looks like he’s never been away whilst only Manchester City have taken a win off them. So far. 

Which is what makes football just the exciting thing it is. Nobody gave us a hope against Liverpool. There was similar from the other 6 games. We know what we’ve done and what we can achieve when all guns are firing. The funnest season ever is now cranking up even more, reaching previously unimaginable levels. That final moment at West Ham was about as good as things got. Now to see if we can pick up where we left off.

Of course it’s going to be tough. Some might say nigh on impossible. But if that’s the approach then why bother turning up? Genuinely, I’m convinced we will do this. As we’ve been saying all season, forget the calibre and reputation of the opposition. Play the moment. Play the game. Play as we’ve played so far. Of course we HAVE to be aware of who we are up against but there’s a distinct difference between being respectful and being in awe. 

I can’t wait for this one. Quelle surprise. Even that game at the Victoria Stadium to see Gibraltar go down 3-0 to Montenegro now feels second fiddle. Fun though it was. The home side weren’t given a prayer in that one, either, but I’ve got a rock solid belief we’re going to pull a few more pants down on Saturday evening.

If nothing else, this is a West London derby. THE West London derby. Move over Fulham. See you later Loftus Road. Brentford and Chelsea are currently the two best placed clubs, not only in this quarter but the entire capital. Bring it on and see you there.

International football provided relief in the absence of Premier League action

Nick Bruzon