Tag Archives: Crystal Palace

Could he start tomorrow? Here’s hoping !

18 Feb

Brentford travel to Arsenal on Saturday afternoon, looking for a first Premier League ‘double’ of the season. Victory for the Bees would and reduce the points gap between us and the sixth placed Gunners to single figures. The presence of David Raya and that increased defensive strength seen at Manchester City then last time out when Crystal Palace came to West London gives heart and continues to engender optimism. Likewise, the return to action of Josh Dasilva. With news on Ivan Toney still somewhat, err, scant could it be elsewhere that the blockbuster bombshells are dropped? The run out for Christian Eriksen on Monday afternoon causing many to wonder if a place on the bench at Arsenal is now beckoning or do we need to wait for Newcastle United next weekend?

Going for more of the same agasint Arsenal this weekend

For me, Clive, surely it’s too early? Surely? Match fitness will be key. We’re all brutally aware that a behind closed doors friendly is one thing but a full on Premier League fixture in the cauldron of silence that is The Emirates another. Common sense dictates that the bench at home to Newcastle is likely the earliest we’ll see our latest signing in actual action. Who knows, though? Who actually knows? These aren’t the sort of things that are generally advertised. A couple of days or a couple of weeks? All we can say is that when it comes it’ll be immense. The welcome received against Crystal Palace reason enough to understand the place is going to go nuts when, and where, it happens.

Until then, the more likely option for Brentford is a start for Josh Dasilva. My word, it’s been wonderful having back in action. One of our shrewdest acquisitions of all time, he is already showing us how much he’s been missed. The brief cameo at Everton has now been fleshed out to half hour slots against Manchester City and Palace. With the full game under his belt on Monday, could the trip to Arsenal see him finally start?

Is Josh set to start from the off rather than the bench?

My own guess is, yes. A 60 minute run out before being replaced by Vitaly or Mathias. Thomas making no secret of his substitution timings at present. With Ivan missing the last two games, the presence of Josh would provide a massive attacking option should our main man up top be missing again. The prospect of them playing together even more tantalising. That will come at some point soon. Perhaps Saturday. Perhaps Newcastle. Perhaps beyond. It’s a wonderful thing to be discussing once again. Options. Choice. A team that is no longer being held together by injury and covid related sticky tape. We’re still not ‘full strength’ but then again, at this stage of the season, who is?

At least we have David Raya back and already looking strong as an ox. The challenge seen for those filling in for a figure of his stature akin to replacing Arsene Wenger. It takes more than gloves or an oversized anorak to replace a legend. Wearing the kit doesn’t guarantee being able to forge that bond with your new team. Thankfully, David is back. Kris, Ethan and Pontus are looking colossal. The Crystal Palace and Manchester City games even saw us mange to clear all 18 corner kicks taken by our opponents. That the goals conceded at the the Ethiad were down to sloppy individualism rather than collective ineptitude giving further heart. Those wrinkles have been addressed and the discipline seen, if maintained, may well give us the platform on which to build this Saturday.

If nothing else, it’s a wonderful opportunity just to prove that the season opener was no fluke. The 2-0 defeat of Arsenal that saw us top the Premier League table was as deserved as they come, despite the chagrin voiced from certain quarters. Suck it up, the table doesn’t lie. Sergi’s opener was wonderful. Norgaard’s finish the cherry on an already well iced cake. The reaction at full time telling you all you needed to know.

Of course it will be tougher this time around. The atmosphere back in August was as highly charged as it comes. That can’t ever be recreated when it is the librarians who have the majority of bums on seats. Albeit you can bet our 3,000 will be giving it their all to raise the roof and remind Arsenal they’re in a game. That Brentford aren’t just here to make up the numbers. Obvious tub-thumping and to an extent clichéd stuff by numbers but, nonetheless, still true.

Anyone who has seen us at our best this season knows what we can do when properly on it. We are getting ourselves back in the zone of that early season brilliance. Getting David back and seeing Josh out on the pitch once more has been simply HUGE. Game changers the pair of them. You can understand what Arsenal saw in both players.

The former, coveted.

The later, well that’s their problem….

Arsenal are on it, too, btw. Don’t expect the same pushovers seen at Lionel Road. They won at Wolves last time out although have also seen the mixed bag of being held by Burnley having thumped Norwich City. One can’t ignore longer term form. They’re sixth and chasing that Europa League spot. The table doesn’t lie and this one will be tough. For BOTH teams. I can’t wait. Bring it on and see you there.

Nick Bruzon

Who were the crown jewels against Palace ?

13 Feb

Another day, another game. Brentford arrested the recent run of defeats on Saturday afternoon with a 0-0 home draw against Crystal Palace. It was an afternoon that saw David Raya playing at home for the first time in months and Josh Dasilva finally back out in front of the Lionel Road crowd. Fingers crossed he’s good for Arsenal on Saturday, based on what we saw..

As ever, it’s time to take a look at some of the game highlights and those players that shone. Who were the Brentford top five? How does Thomas pick his midfield for Arsenal and beyond? Has the result agsasint Crystal Palace had any bearing on our season long hunt for the top Bees’ performers? Well, the thoughts on all of those can be found in the latest player review, here.

Enjoy

Nick Bruzon

Caution. Positivity may offend.

13 Feb

Blip averted after that run of five successive top flight defeats. One point rather than the three it might have been but a 0-0 between Brentford and Crystal Palace saw us building on the foundations (performance wise) laid at Manchester City during the week. With the trip to Arsenal next up, its not going to get any easier for the Bees. Likewise, for our opponents who will continue to find the Bees a tough nut to crack. The return of David Raya cannot be quantified. Kris Ajer and Ethan Pinnock consistently strong. Josh Dasilva making his first Premier League start at Lionel Road in some style and, of course, Christian Eriksen waiting in the wings. His introduction to supporters before kick-off setting the mood and creating expectation levels which one can only salivate at the prospect of being reached. All that’s to come though. For now, the game just played.

The moment

Brentford were solid at the back. The three centre backs clearing everything that came their way. Sergi Canos replacing Mads Roerslev in the right wing back position can only play where he is asked – albeit nobody would deny he’s definitely better when on the front foot. He always plays with his heart on his sleeve and started this one at 100mph. Waving his team mates on and exhorting the crowd upwards. As did Bryan. As did Rico. As did Matthias Jensen. Despite the absence of Ivan Toney once more, it was the Bees taking the game to Crystal Palace. It was referee Simon Hooper redefining the penalty kick laws and needing a new dictionary to look up the definition of the word: push.

Yet for all the positivity it was another game where chances were at a premium. Where optimism failed to create those clear cut opportunities. Where the will to win and the desire from the fans wasn’t enough to drag the ball into the net. And?

We could have won. Maybe should have won. Nobody has a divine right to be any good. To turn up and win. To get the points by simple virtue of expectation. This is the toughest league in the world. One we are competing in. Competing. One we are spending our first season in with a squad made up of players whose experience has been forged in the Championship. Or Below. A bench supplemented by players from the B-team. That’s just how we do things. Always has been.

All the wailing and gnashing of teeth about the transfer window won’t change anything. Our targets were flagged and they didn’t include defensive cover. Get over it. Getting on the backs of those asked to fill in won’t help any. This team has enough about it for people to be getting upset about what some may consider to be not having a recognised right back. I’m not an idiot. I’d love another option there. I’d love another option up top. I’d love Ivan to be playing further forward. To see chances being created for him and snaffled as we did last season but we’ve set our stall out and, mostly, held our own. Laid foundations for the rest of this campaign and what may come beyond.

The return of David Raya is key. As is the continued rehabilitation of Josh Dasilva. I thought he was brilliant yesterday as another half-hour were tucked under his belt. With Mathias Jensen doing all the good stuff and Christian Eriksen still to come, it is the midfield where we have options. The midfield where battle will be done and games can be won. Good luck Thomas in fitting Vitaly, Josh, Mathias and the two Christians in to his team once all are fully fit and available.

A quite wonderful challenge to contemplate and one which far outweighs the ‘problem’ at right wing back.

I thought David Raya brought so much solidity when called upon. So much calm. The renewed acquaintance of the defence with their goalkeeper a beautiful thing to see unfolding once more. The goalkeeper’s distribution something we’ve been crying out for whilst his reaction speed in the dying seconds arguably stopped Crystal Palace taking all three points.

Ok – so the league title is now only a mathematical possibility. We’ve 13 games left. That’s 39 points left to play for. The exact same gap between us and Manchester City with both teams having played 25 games. Whilst it may never have been a realistic option, not long term, we’ve already topped the table once this season and who’s to say it won’t happen again? The season opening defeat of Arsenal providing a moment of optimism now matched by the arrival of Christian Eriksen.

The table doesn’t lie

Eriksen’s walk out on to the pitch before kick-off triggering a standing ovation from all sides of the ground. How quickly he returns, and how well, the questions on everyone’s lips. One thing’s for sure, the prospect of seeing him play again is a tantalising one. A prospect that will be fulfilled in Brentford colours. There’s a behind closed doors friendly on Monday and then the next league game is Saturday afternoon at Arsenal. He’ll feature in the former. Whether the later is a bridge too far at present remains to be seen but there’ll be even more intrigue when Thomas talks to the press on Thursday.

What are the expectations from this point in? So much supporter talk before the season began centred around 17th being the target. Personally, I thought tenth and with the gap to the top half of the table currently at five points, its still a feasible option. I do not and will not subscribe to any of this ‘sleep walking to relegation’ talk, that’s for sure. If positivity offends then that’s your issue, not mine.

With the exception of Burnley, Brighton, Southampton (all away) and Norwich (home) I think we’ve more than held our own in the league this season. Four dreadful performances out of twenty-five so far. That’s a brilliant achievement and should be celebrated. Sure, the results may not always have gone our way but look at who we are up against. Look at their budgets. Their experience.

I’d still be ecstatic to finish 17th but , genuinely, I think we’re better than that. That’s just an opinion of course and the sequence of games after Arsenal is one that sees us face off against sides currently in the bottom four – Newcastle United, Norwich City and Burnley. Anything but gimmes but also an opportunity to silence those uttering the ‘R’ word.

I can’t wait for any of it. All of it. Bring them on and see you there. Until then, the latest player performance review can be found here.

Next up, our first trip to Arsenal since the League Cup

Nick Bruzon    

Time to shed the L plates and get back to business

11 Feb

Brentford are back at home on Saturday for a clash with Crystal Palace where getting a point or three on the board is very much top of the priorities. Wednesday night’s 2-0 reverse at Manchester City felt like Liverpool away all over. Whilst a performance to give huge swathes of encouragement for the rest of the campaign, it still ended with another L being added to our current run of league form. At face value, our record is worse than The England Supporters Band World Cup singalong EP. Current results seeing the letter L becoming as unwelcome as one hanging around Mrs. Brown’s (of Boys infamy) neck on a hen night. Sounds and sights that nobody needs. The big question being how we get to reverse this blip before it moves form a statistical anomaly to an albatross?

Sights and sounds nobody needs

First things first, Manchester City away. The highlights of that one were covered off in the player review which you can find here. An already tough task was made inifinitely harder before the game had even started when it was revealed there would be no Ivan Toney, no Vitaly Janelt, no Bryan Mbeumo and no Yoanne Wissa. Striking options reduced to Sergi Canos and Saman Ghoddos.

We love Sergi in our house but if those two knew each other like the back of their hand then they must have been wearing gloves. Those rare opportunities where a break was made possible immediately snuffed out by a wayward pass or the offside flag.

The positive news being our performance in keeping our hosts at bay. Many had expected Manchester City to score at will but an ultra-disciplined performance at the back – where Kris Ajer and Rico Henry in particular were standout – saw the attacking threat nullified. The midfield, likewise. Something which made the manner of the two goals we did concede all the more frustrating.

Sergi spurning chances to release the ball in midfield, losing possession and Mads Roerslev giving away a clumsy penalty form the resultant ball forward. It was all a bit Laurel and Hardy yet so avoidable. From Sergi’s part, last season’s Norwich City away all over again. An infrequent but glaring howler. For Mads, perhaps a bit of inexperience and big game rabbit in the headlights but, again, he didn’t even get close to the ball and it was as clumsy as they come. David Raya with no chance from the spot kick. Much as the game in Liverpool, forty plus minutes of resolute defending undone with one lapse minutes before half-time.

If the first had been Liverpool away, the second was a carbon copy. Perhaps even tougher to swallow given we’d been playing our way back in to the game. Rico had almost equalised moments after the penalty and now the Bees were actually breaking forward. Putting City on the backfoot. Yoanne Wissa was all set to join the fray when more sloppiness, from the unlikeliest of sources. David Raya passing it out of defence and straight to Raheem Sterling. It was Alvaro Fernandez at Anfield all over again. One that we will, perhaps, be generous and chalk down to being out of action for all those months. If nothing else, his performance the rest of the game was as welcome and confidence inspiring as they come.

Let’s be clear, having David Raya back is a magnificent thing. No Brentford fan would deny that. Form started to wobble the moment he went away and, whilst it may take a game or so to reacquaint himself with the defence, long term our prospects are infinitely sounder. Likewise Josh Dasilva, who came off the bench for a pre-planned substitution. He was our star man against Everton and continues to show what we’ve been missing. Cautious reintegration to the team – it was a LONG injury break – will surely be the way here as fitness returns.

Then there’s Christian Eriksen. Is Crystal Palace too soon for him to have a run out? He’s been in training this week and says he’s in better shape than ever , albeit obviously lacking competitive minutes.

When might he step from training ground to first XI ?

However, with two goalkeepers being maned on the bench for Manchester City, I’m half expecting him, to be added to the substitutes for Palace. Even if there’s no chance of getting an actual run out. Just think of the boost it will give the crowd when his name is read out. When we see him warming up. Running down the touchline. Perhaps as important a move to make as actually bringing a player on. As for the noise if / when Christian finally enters the fray. Whether it is against Crystal Palace or elsewhere. Thomas has a wonderful card up his sleeve and when he plays it is a decision that has everyone guessing. Everyone talking. Everyone anticipating.

As for Crystal Palace, they’re only a point ahead of the Bees following a 1-1 draw with Norwich City midweek. I don’t think even Dean Smith would claim his side deserved to win after the Eagles had a gola disallowed and were guilty of missing what has been described as one of the worst Premier League penalties of all time. If only Manchester City had followed that script.

The game at Selhurst Park ended in a 0-0 draw. Our first Premier League away day played out in a cauldron of noise – even if it did require, shudders, a drummer to help crank things up. Likewise, there was fake Hans Gruber in the supermarket end, Doing his best to wind up the visitors and falling flat on his face (metaphorically speaking) after being invited to leave by the stewards.

Goodbye

Despite the mayhem and chaos all around, Brentford more than held their own. Recreating similar (perhaps without the drum) will be huge tomorrow. Ivan Toney being declared fit, equally so. Thomas Frank used his press conference yesterday to share the update that, “We found out late on Monday afternoon that Ivan Toney would be a big doubt for the City game (with a calf injury) but fingers crossed he’ll be ready for Saturday. It will be a race against time but we’re hoping he’ll be okay for the Palace game.

Only time will tell if Ivan is involved. If Bryan starts or Vitaly is fit. Whether Christian Eriksen could make a gladiatorial entry into the fray. Roll on 2.01pm when the team is named and we find out.

Bring it on. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Manchester City post match debrief

10 Feb

Our evening in the North-West ended with a 2-0 defeat for Brentford. A much changed team, which included David Raya for his first Premier League start in over four months, was unable to hold off the might of Manchester City despite giving it their all. With Ivan Toney presumably held back for Crystal Palace on Saturday, who were the top performers for Brentford? What were the highlights? And the lowlights, if any?

As ever, you can read it here in the post match catch up to find the leading player of the season aswell as our regular top five. It was close. It was disciplined but, in the end, it was Manchester City away….

Nick Bruzon

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

2 Feb

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

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

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

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

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

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

He isn’t alone.

Oh yes !!!

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

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

Wolves… horrific

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

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

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

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

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

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

He’s in !!

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

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

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

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

Cripes, I can’t wait. See you there.

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

Nick Bruzon

Awesome news. Awful photoshop. Just another day on Planet Brentford.

1 Feb

Another transfer window slams shut for Brentford. We now know the names of the players who we have for the rest of the Premier League campaign. Those pushing for FA Cup glory (starting with Everton on Saturday) and Premier League position (continuing with Manchester City and then Crystal Palace). The headlines were, of course, made by confirmation of Christian Eriksen joining us for the rest of the season. One can’t truly describe how monumental this is. The out-door saw deadline day moves for Marcus Forss (Hull City) and Charlie Goode (Sheffield United) to join those who had already moved on earlier in the month but it was the 8am announcement of Eriksen that had everyone and anyone talking. If for no other reason, about who had given the keys of club photoshop to the work experience student.

Hi everyone. Its Christian Eriksen. I’m happy to announce I’ve signed for Brentford football club and I can’t wait to get started and hopefully I’ll see you all soon.

Not my words, Carol. The words of Christian Eriksen. The actual Christian Eriksen. And now he’s on the books at Brentford. Actual. Christian. Eriksen. He’s a player in the very top bracket of world football and now he has chosen to play for the Bees. It’s nuts. Its crazy. Its about to happen. He’s due to start training next week (so Everton and , in all probability, Manchester City are games too soon) but beyond that who knows where or when we get our first glimpse of the man in action?  

Fitness is the obvious issue here. Not so much his recovery form that horrifying collapse agasint Finland in the summer but more in getting back to the levels from last season. A season where he helped Inter Milan win the Italian title. He hasn’t played a game in anger since the Euros and it would be unimagineable for anyone to spring straight back in to action full tilt. Just look at how Josh Dasilva is being nursed back through the B team for context. But, when he’s ready, it’s going to be immense. Immense. Until then. perhaps dig out those mid 90’s shirts?

Speaking on the BBC football news show, ‘transfer expert’ Simon Stone describes it as, “A fantastic deal for him and it’s a fantastic deal for Brentford aswell. Who could imagine a club like Brentford could sign someone of that kind of standing?”

For once, a ‘teams like’ comment that is spot on. He’s the sort of player that could fit into any of the best teams in Europe. Instead, he’s chosen the Barcelona of the (former) lower leagues. As Stone also suggested, this is a move that has long foundations with Thomas Frank having coached the player when he was part of the Denmark U-17 set up.

It’s a funny old game, as somebody once said. All the bile directed towards our head coach for so long. All the negative talk. Yet all he’s done has guide us further up the football pyramid. Won an actual play off final. Seen us hit the top flight running. And now used his associations to bring in a truly World class player. Bravo Thomas.

Frank out, eh?

If nothing else, it got our H ready for school early with a quick fly-by of Lionel Road on the way in to class. The excitement will do that. The retro shirt getting a display in public and, I’d imagine, we’ll be seeing many more of these in the coming weeks.

Ericsson on the front. Eriksen on the back.

As Stone continued, in a piece you can see here, “Once he gets to match fit, if he can get to anything like the ability that he has shown through the rest of his career he will be a force for good for Brentford and, actually, a force for good for the Premier League aswell.”

For the rest of our activity, you could substitute tumbleweed. The frustration amongst certain quarters was clear. Primarily given the lack of full back cover and the loaning out of Marcus Forss to Hull. For me, Clive, the former is playing percentages. Muddling through as we’ve already done this season. The later, a gamble if Ivan gets injured but Marcus has rarely featured this season and getting minutes under the belt is the absolute priority. Sergi Canos substituted admirably at Leeds United and whilst his best position is out wide rather than wing back or up top, that versatility is something Thomas very much relies on. The fans may not always agree but the table speaks volumes.

Leeds away. Sergi is in there somewhere. Making friends as ever

Likewise, what are / were anyone’s actual aspirations? At the start of the season survival was the absolute must. We’d all have taken that if, somehow, offered. We’re fourteenth at the moment after coming though as tough a run of games as is possible. Manchester United and Liverpool back to back. Manchester City at the end of December and due up again imminently. The freak game with Wolves where everything, and we mean everything, happened….

That people are now frustrated at an apparent lack of ambition is a sign of how well we have taken to life at this level but also a colossal insult to a squad for whom relegation is now being predicted. That’s how I read it, of course. Please note: opinions may differ.  

Then again, the current era is one in which confidence and trust has been an easy thing to buy into. Again, that’s my feeling and perhaps as much this comes through living through the years of mediocrity which, whilst absolute fun, were nothing like the football we now enjoy. The players we’ve been fortunate enough to see grace the pitch. That Christian Eriksen is the next of these in line is something that just cannot be over-stated enough.

Let’s not forget, either, the imminent returns of Josh Dasilva and David Raya. They’ll feel like brand new signings and I can’t help feel both will be back in the starting XI soon. With all of the, understandable, Eriksen noise yesterday this video probably got lost in the crowd. But take a look. Raya looking flexible and throwing himself around.  With moves like Jagger, to borrow from popular music’s Maroon 5.

We’ve not sold any of the big names. People forget how commonplace a thing this used to be. Instead, several first teamers have signed contract extensions whilst we’ve got as marquee a signing as the come. Staying up and building for next season would seem to be very much the order of the day. Perhaps with an FA Cup run chucked in.

The latest chapter in the Brentford story begins on Saturday at Everton. I can’t wait….

Until then, here’s that window in full…

IN: NEW Actual Christian Eriksen: Jonas Lössl

IN: Loan return: Ellery Balcombe

Contract Extensions: Pontus Jansson, Christian Nørgaard, Bryan Mbeumo:

Out: Jan Žambůrek: Viborg FF.  Patrik Gunnarsson: Viking Stavanger.

Out loan: Marcus Forss: Hull City.  Joel Valencia: AD Alcorcón.  Dominic Thompson: Ipswich Town. Mads Bidstrup: FC Nordsjaelland. Charlie Goode: Sheffield United. Luka Racic: HB Køge

Nick Bruzon

Are we quite done now?

30 Jan

A week where the phrase ‘blown out of all proportion’ has been front and centre finally comes to an end for Brentford. Thomas Frank has been fined £8000 for his full time contretemps with ‘referee’ Peter Bankes after the game against Wolves. There has been a suggestion that his choice of language to earn that second yellow card may have been a tad stronger than the initial update given by our head coach that, “I turned around and said to Peter, You can just give me another one, because I was very irritated”. An explanation that may well rival that of Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons when he invited Eric Cantona to “Go on number seven. Take an early shower”. An offer that promptly earned the big mouthed liar that infamous karate kick from the Manchester United legend. 

Likewise, Ivan Toney has now issued the obligatory message to supporters after being on the wrong end of the biggest stitch up since the Great British Sewing Bee whilst on a well earned break in Dubai. The almost universal reaction amongst Brentford fans all Saturday to the video thing was that nobody gave a damn about a clip that was so out of context as to be almost irrelevant. Only the social media pile on and usual click bait mongers making something out of nothing.  So both Thomas and Ivan have now performed their Little Britain style acts of contrition,  apologised and, all being well, we can now move on.

After which, I accidentally said…..

All of which has distracted from Dominic Thompson going out on loan to Ipswich Town and Mads Bidstrup completing a similar move to Nordsjælland. The meltdown from certain quarters around both of these moves has been as hilarious as it has been predictable. No cover at left back. Phil Giles hasn’t got a clue. Why get rid of Mads? Transfer strategy, of course, being something determined in public by social media and, in part, why Rasmus Ankersen has moved on to Southampton. His role now redundant.

To be fair, the wing back situation is an area of focus and has been all season. Sergi isn’t the permanent solution (in that position) but for all those wailing and gnashing teeth about Thompson being farmed out, let’s not forget that he was as awful against Brighton as he was awesome against Manchester City. I saw one voice of opinion slating the move in one breath and in the next saying he was League One at best. Go figure? Debate is a wonderful thing and certainly keeps us all hooked. It’s not an ideal situation by any stretch and feels like we are gambling on both percentages and Rico’s health. I suspect that unless we have any 11th hour, under the radar moves occurring then this is the path down which we now walk. 

Equally, let’s not forget either that room needs to be made in the squad. Something has to give when Josh Dasilva is ready and Christian Eriksen comes in. There’s talk also of Tariqe Fosu and Charlie Goode both heading out on loan, too. With the transfer window due to make its semi-annual slam shut on Monday at 11pm, the time for any permanent moves is fast running out. To be honest, I don’t think we’ll see any either. Brennan Johnson from Nottingham Forest is as dead as a parrot whilst the noises around Hull City’s Keane Lewis-Potter have now turned into barely audible whispers. We’ve more chance of signing Harry Potter than Keane. 

Brentford’s own Harry Potter

But the imminent returns of David Raya and Josh will, in themselves, feel like brand new signings. Oh how they’ve been missed. David in particular. Chuck Christian Eriksen into the mix and it could be a very different looking Brentford team when Crystal Palace come to visit in mid-February. An incredible looking Brentford team.

The reports coming out of Ajax where Eriksen has been training are certainly sounding like Boy’s Own stuff. The story still sounds just about the most incredible thing ever – moreso if you rewind six months – yet still it seems that we are all systems go with the formal announcement expected early next week. Wow. Just wow!

Wow. Just wow

The other news that has largely passed by this week (these pages at least) has been the announcement of Bryan Mbeumo joining Christian Norgaard and Pontus Jansson in signing contract extensions. Along with Rico, Ivan and Christian, Bryan has been amongst our very best players this season. He’s at the business end of our regular player review (which you can check out here – the fall out from the crazy, crazy fame with Wolves ) and has been wowing the crowds as much as he did when first bursting onto the scene at Griffin Park.

As ever, Brentford looking to continue the strategy of tying down our hottest talent to long term contracts. It is a shrewd move for both parties and one can only presume he’ll push on to bigger and better things with the Bees. Hey, the BBC might even pronounce Mbeumo correctly by the time we play Man City or Palace.

Flying Bryan burst on to the scene in some style

So let’s close up here. As ever, we could ramble on for hours but with a trip to the gym imminent (the paunch isn’t going to fix itself) and the laptop fast running out of charge, its seems an appropriate place to finish. The coming week looks to be about as exciting as they come if, for no other reason, we get the chance to do our talking on the pitch once more. 

Everton in the FA Cup on Saturday. See you there.

Our reader is saved by the battery

Nick Bruzon

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

11 Sep

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

Maupay – a work of art

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

Leeds United. Ruined. Many, many times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

A poor man’s Hans Gruber and a drum. Trip to the Palace reminds us what we’ve missed.

22 Aug

Brentford ahead of Manchester City. Not my words, Carol. Those of crisps star Gary Lineker on TV’s Match Of The Day last night (definitely not this morning on ‘catch up’ after falling asleep on the sofa). This, following a 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace. As eventful a game as one could imagine from the scoreline with both teams feeling aggrieved not to have taken all three points by the time referee Martin Atkinson called a halt to proceedings. Thomas Frank would take the applause from the travelling support as his, our, team, remain unbeaten in the Premier League. The current table seeing us sitting in fourth place with only Liverpool, Brighton and Everton ahead. Today’s fixtures will, no doubt, alter the balance of this fledgling ladder but, as it stands, there can be no complaints. Two games. Four points. None conceded. Champions League spot occupied. Don’t @ me. The stats don’t lie. As Shakira almost once sang.

Full Time. Thomas takes the applause and praises the fans

Where to start? Support levels were stonking. From both teams. Brentford loud, louder and ending it loudest. Palace, with a frenzied welcome of flag waving that transformed into huge vocals which the silent Arsenal visitors we had last week could only dream of.

All this, before resorting to that most heinous of football crimes. A drum. Oh for crying out loud, a f*&king drum. Still, as one observer put things, it was the only thing they could beat.

A drum. Pass the bucket

On pitch, Palace started at 100mph. The team looking to make up for lost time after last weekend and almost getting off the mark within minutes – only the frame of the goal keeping David Raya’s sheets clean when, by all rights, they should have been left aswell and truly blemished from close in. Conor Gallagher the man coming close but, in truth, it was the best opportunity they had and symptomatic of their game. No cutting edge when fast paced attack reached the final third. Benteke also with a good chance whilst Sergi played  Wilfried Zaha like a second hand fiddle.  The Ivorian resorting to a second half hissy fit that left him well and truly rattled. He wasn’t alone though. 

See also:  the chap in the supermarket end sporting the turtle neck jumper, blazer and slacks. He looked like the murderer in an episode of Midsomer Murders. It was the librarian wot did it. Or, perhaps, the classic Hollywood ‘late 80s’ English criminal. A poor man’s Hans Gruber who seemed somewhat perturbed by the fact that the Brentford fans were making noise. It all ended with him being invited to leave early into the second half before an eventual, calmer, return.  

Ahh, McClane…

As for Brentford, Bryan Mbeumo came closest. Hitting the Crystal Palace bar from a first half free kick whilst Ivan Toney and Frank Onyeka also had chances. Good chances. Sergi and Bryan linking up wonderfully down the right all game. Frank the Tank bossing midfield. Ajer travelling out of defence with all the comfort of a man who the ball tied ti his foot. Rock solid along side Ethan and Pontus when called upon. And when they were beaten, David Raya was there. If he’d been a virtual passenger against Arsenal, this time round he was well and truly needed. A fingertip save from James McArthur the other real moment of danger from the home side but our man was equal to it.

In the end though, we’ve left feeling almost disappointed. It was a game Brentford could have won. Perhaps should have. Yet credit to our opponents. The pace at this level is relentless. Lightning fast. Reflexes need to be that bit quicker and the fact we are, to date, holding our own is nothing to be sniffed at. This team has been prepared to compete over the last few seasons ans now we are here. Now we are doing it. So far. 

Special note for referee Martin Atkinson. It was as hard fought and physical a game as we’ve had in a while. Challenges flying in and he did everything possible to let the game flow. Even to the detriment of the players with the trainers coming onto the field a number of times. This was something Jurgen Klopp would talk about after Liverpool beat Burnley at lunchtime, saying that “it’s like we’re going 10 to 15 years backwards.” with officials now encouraged not to penalise ‘trivial’ things in order to let games flow. 

I’m all for an open game but there were a number of decisions and fouls, for both teams, where the decision making process seemed to be one where the ref simply chose not to see. Balance needs to be struck. Nobody wants the stop-start cardathons of Keith Stroud on a bad day, but there is also a level of physicality which if let unchecked will end up seeing somebody hurt. Perhaps its as much frustration after seeing a number of calls that, obviously, should have gone our way either not given or awarded to the hosts. At least we’ve not had VAR getting in the way. Yet. Time will tell how things play out on those fronts. 

Next up in the league for Brentford, a trip to Aston Villa. A chance to reunite with Dean Smith, Ezri Konsa and perhaps Ollie Watkins. We’ve sold 2,400 for that one. So far. If it was noisy at the Palace, there’s sure to be a party in the Park. Confidence is high and excitement levels even higher. Perhaps we might even make it out of ‘last spot’ in the Match of the Day running order. With Manchester City kicking off before us and playing Arsenal, we’ll need to win to retain our place ahead of them. Hey, one can fantasise. Only 36 games to go….. 

Until then, we’ve a chance to reflect on just how good it was being able to travel. Going on the road once more. Being part of the massed ranks of travelling fans. A moment that has, for so long, felt a million miles away from being possible. A chance to travel with friend and family. To see familiar faces and jumpers. Yet it has happened . And it was amazing. H getting into the atmosphere like a duck to water.

Now bring on the Villa so we can do it all again.

Nick Bruzon