Tag Archives: David Raya

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

2 Apr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pack those travel cards

Nick Bruzon

He’s only got four fingers but he still knows what to do with his head.

27 Feb

When does a blip become a trend? When does a bad run of results become more of a worry? The first of three games against teams below Brentford saw a 2-0 win for Newcastle United at Lionel Road. It was as abject a showing as we’ve seen all season (certainly in my bottom five ‘performances’ ) with the only two positives being the performance of David Raya and the entrance of Christian Eriksen into the field of play. If you want some further straw clutching at good news, then the ongoing holes in the Leeds United defence and use of VAR at Everton were further bonuses on an afternoon of slim pickings. It’s not time to enter panic mode but it IS time to now start getting points on the board. Failure to do so against Norwich City next week or Burnley in a fortnight and things could look very different.

What a moment

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe pretty much nailed it at full time. “If you can’t win, don’t lose”. Certainly that was our approach going in to that recent run of games against the clubs chasing Europe, for all our defensive heavy tactics ended up fruitless. This was different. This was the chance to turn the screw and aim for three points at home. To ride the wave of optimism engendered by the return of Ivan Toney to the squad. By Josh Dasilva starting once more. By the promise that we would see Christian Eriksen make a debut. The chance for Brentford to take a home game by the scruff of the neck. Instead, it was an opportunity that saw the Bees fall flat on their collective faces. 

Referee Mike Dean didn’t help matters, that’s for sure. The red card shown to Josh Dasilva after just 11 minutes about the only thing he got right all afternoon and even that was a decision that had originally been given as a free kick to Brentford. Then VAR stepped in and, upon review, there can be few of us not wincing at a challenge which, whilst I am 100% sure was made with no ill intent, did not look pretty on the replay. The Bees down to ten men for the majority of the game and any early impetus gone in a flash.

Let’s not blame Mike Dean for our own failings, though. He didn’t help matters but Newcastle United wanted this 100 times more than we did. Their 26 shots (to our 6) and 63% possession (for an away team !!!) matched by their two first half goals. Indeed, were it not for David Raya who was absolutely dominant in goal for Brentford things could have ended up a heck of a lot worse. Joelinton magnificent with his head for the eventual opener. An absolute blinder with Ajer made to look invisible. Joe Willock finishing a rapier like counter attack just before half time after Jensen had delivered a Brentford corner so deep it needed its own scuba gear.

The players trooped off with ‘All Apologies’ playing out over the tannoy at half-time. Irony alive and well at Lionel Road where it was anything but a state of Nirvana. 

It was a case of All Apologies to the Brentford fans at half time

On the plus side, if there can be one, it perhaps accelerated the entrance of Christian Eriksen. What a moment. What a reception. Universal applause and good will. Not just in the stadium but , no doubt, further afield. The moment we’d been building to finally where. A standing ovation and the player straight in to the action in place of Jensen. Within a minute he might had opened Newcastle up. His game then demonstrating the passing and movement we’re all so familiar with and which could prove invaluable in the coming weeks. 

Sadly, it wasn’t quite enough but ten men are always going to struggle against opposition that stretched us further than the elastic on a pair of granddad’s pants. That were on their game and had their fans singing throughout. One song about Joelinton, to the tune of ‘She’s Electric’ on repeat after he’d bagged the opener. “He’s only got four fingers” ringing around Lionel Road again and again and again. 

Albeit subsequent post match discussion suggesting the line might, actually, have been a reference to his price tag. That’s what £40million gets you, I suppose.  

As for Brentford, hindsight is wonderful thing. The popular opinion being that Eriksen should have started from the off. Should have take the game to Newcastle and let them play catch up. Personally speaking, I’d have made the same call. Bring him on. We have an abundance of midfield options. Norgaard, Janelt and Dasilva in the middle with Roerslev at right wing back. Instead, we got the three of them plus Mathias Jensen (who should have been dropped after his cameo at Arsenal), no Roerslev or Canos and Ivan Toney on the bench. It survived just 11 minutes.  

I guess if Ivan is not 90 minute fit the thinking was to have him, Josh and Christian Eriksen on together. Besides, as one terrace wag put it in the pub after the game, having played for Spurs Eriksen is used to coming on at 2-0 down. It didn’t work though. Not this time. Personally, I’d have started Ivan and brought him off if needed. Then use impact player Wissa up top with Bryan.

Being an armchair manager is easy. There’s no consequence to your decisions. No comeback or tirades of abuse for getting it wrong. None of us know what goes on behind the scenes. How fit players are. Why some start ahead of others. It’s not the team I’d have picked but it was still a team that should have been good enough to perform a hell of a lot better than they did. The ten men didn’t help, of course, but it just felt as though we barely got even half way close to sniffing the chance of having a look in.

It’s done. It’s dusted. It’s put to bed. The player review and ‘deeper dive’ is here. A bad day over. A bad day made even worse by then having to watch Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. In itself, always an awful experience and one made even worse by their proving how ‘live’ the show was by harping back to the result. There it was again. And again.

Instead, it’s time to focus on Norwich City. They looked desperate against Southampton on Friday night. Another team spending huge swathes of time on the backfoot and inviting pressure on themselves. Bringing the inevitable goals against with even Dean Smith replacing his usual “We deserved to win” with, “The better team won on the night, we can’t argue with that.” . Like Eddie Howe, a manager reading the game correctly, even if the result didn’t go as planned. 

It will be crucial how Thomas and his team react to this performance when we go to Carrow Road next week. Otherwise, those last two games of the campaign (Everton away and Leeds United at home) might end up proving very significant. All that’s to come, of course. For now we need to focus on Norwich City and then Burnley. 

Nobody said life at this level would be easy but I’m still loving it. Bring them on and see you there.

So much optimism from the young Bees before kick-off

Nick Bruzon

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

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

Josh a rare Raya sunshine on an otherwise dreadful day.

6 Feb

At least we can concentrate on the league…. There you go. Tick. That said, it would be nice if Brentford could concentrate on actual defending because dial in anywhere near that level of backline based ineptitude against Manchester City on Wednesday night and it’s going to get grammatical (if you know what I mean). Do we need to spell it out? Brackets!! Brentford gave Frank Lampard the most generous of debuts as Frank Lampard’s Everton went through to the FA Cup fifth round on Saturday afternoon. A 4-1 victory for the Toffees the result that, as ever, doesn’t tell half the story. Thankfully. Lampard given the warmest of welcomes by the Bees in the most miserable of conditions. It was wretched. Dismal. Dank. Overcast. The weather was shite too, matching the performance of our centre backs as the goals rained in.   

Two goals conceded from corners. Nobody moving to try and direct the ball outwards for either.  The second corner in particular an absolute horror show as Mads Bech elected to head the ball goalwards and right into the path of Mason Holgate – one of several unmarked players btw. The Everton man making no mistake from close in but, then again, presented such an opportunity even Ian Moose might have come close to an early birthday present (tomorrow is the day). Possibly. 

If you pause the highlights, you can see the defensive masterclass in full effect

It was the nail in the coffin of a relatively even game which Ivan Toney had pulled us back into with a trade mark penalty for 2-1 down and then come painfully close to levelling things up. Brentford had been in the ascendency at that point. The travelling support sensing the chance to reassert ourselves into a cup tie that had looked like getting away from us.

This, after Yerry Mina had been left unchallenged in a first half corner routine and danger man Allan (hey, we did say before) freed Richarlison to burst clear with the second half barely minutes old. David Raya (not a typo !!!!!!) in nets left cruelly exposed and despite rushing off his line, unable to stop the lead being doubled.

Raya was back – and played the whole game

Ah yes, David Raya. The cheer from the few Brentford fans pitch side when his name was announced at 2pm (the crowded vomitories a much better idea in hindsight) was louder than anything our hosts mustered most of the game. It was a strangely lacklustre atmosphere, with the singing not even starting until the third goal had rained in. Not even as the teams entered the pitch to the shrill whistling of the theme tune from TV’s Z-Cars. Dogs left howling at the moon all around Goodison.

It should have set the mood for the messiah but instead, the mood felt more one of caution amongst a fanbase who hadn’t seen their team take the lead since October 23rd 2020. They needn’t have worried. It’s Brentford, inniit. Our defending of – and also, for the record, taking – set pieces as atrocious as it comes. And has been for much of the season. Long throws are predictable. Free kicks tepid. Corners need to be headed clear. Not watched. 

Ethan Pinnock had been named initially at 2pm before going awol when the players came out and the team sheet recirculated. No idea what happened here. Late Covid test ( sadly, Bryan also missed out after testing positive for the dreaded c word  once more)? Dressing room bust up? Fat fingered typos from ‘official’? Whatever the reason, his aerial presence was missed. Much like our attempts to head the ball clear. Mads and Pontus amongst those who really won’t want to watch this one back but should be forced to, in full. Twice.

Now you see him, now you don’t

Poor Alvaro Fernandez. The stick he has taken. Understandably for a lot of it (oh, that Liverpool backpass thing alone) but perhaps not just down to one man as the frenzied mob on Twitter may have you believe.

Look, at least David Raya was back. Being honest, I didn’t expect him. Surely this was too soon with just 60 minutes of a friendly under his belt? Apparently not. Seeing him warm up was reason alone to brave the elements rather than go backstage for that prematch pint. Oh, the throws, The catches. The confidence. His distribution once things got going for real was reason enough to feel the optimism coursing through the veins even moreso than usual. That we were back to our old selves.  Then he was sold up the river as the midfield and defence invited Everton to help themselves.

The other huge plus point was the return of Josh Dasilva. My word, his twenty minute cameo late on was about as welcome as they get. Not just the relief in seeing him back out there for the first time this season but, like David Raya, the comfort with which he slipped straight back in. The excitement he engenders. The optimism he inspires. That ‘next level’ movement on the ball. “Shoooot’ implored the crowd as he worked it round the edge of a crowded penalty box. Alas, it didn’t come this time. Instead, the net only rippled at the other end when Andros Townsend was invited to administer one final, injury time kick to the private parts of the Brentford faithful. Down and now very much out. Out of the cup. Out of the game. Out of the misery of desperately hanging on for a late goal then last gasp blitzkrieg assault. Of David Raya heading home for 3-3 on 90+4.

Ahh. One can dream. Instead, we endured a living nightmare.

Look – I hate to put the boot into our team. We’ve made the step up to top flight football with a largely Championship side (Kris Ajer aside). We’ve mostly held our own, too. I don’t care for getting upset about our transfer policy. Keep on shouting into the echo chamber of social media, kids. It won’t change what or how we do things. It certainly won’t change the ability of those players out there to show some guts. Show some fire in the belly when under the cosh.

And they didn’t do that yesterday. Not even close.

Everton were there for the taking. Instead, we offered them hope, comfort and the ball. They took all three gifts and fully deserved to win the game. You could see them grow from strength to strength as the Bees became shakier and shakier. No sour grapes there. Well played. I just wish Brentford could have done similar.

sledgehammer like unsubtlty to show how shaky we were

The other way to look at this was that the game was a ‘free hit’. True, we’ve fuelled the Frank Lampard hype train which nobody needs (and it will be interesting to see if this goes on to become a flash in the pan or solid foundations) but haven’t, actually, dropped any points. If we were going to go ‘full abject’ then at least this was the time to do it rather than when chasing a top ten finish.  

The league table still sees us in 14th place with Watford and Burnley drawing 0-0 in their much postponed game last night. We’ve got another free hit on Wednesday evening with the trip to Manchester City. Nobody outside TW8 expects anything of us given their all conquering squad, form and current performance levels. The team are 9 points clear at the top of the Premier League with Liverpool the closest to think about about trying to hang on to their coat tails. They’ll win the league at a canter. You don’t need to be Nostradmus to see that. The only question being if Brentford can possibly slow them down.

Play like this and there’s no hope. It’ll take more than Josh, David and Christian Eriksen (who only arrives in West London today). Forget the set piece coach. We might need an actual coach on the goal line. Yet if Thomas can do his usual ‘dwell on it for 24 hours only’ thing then move on, who knows what might happen? We’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain. This is the chance to truly test ourselves at the very highest level. On the toughest of stages. 

Don’t expect any formation rejig. Three CB has been the way we’ve played all season – and the back end of last.

Manchester City away is not the place to experiment.

Manchester City away IS the place to up your performance levels and, at Everton, they were sub zero. 

No more said. We all know. We were all there (well, 2.300 of us). We’ve all seen the highlights although here if you want to torture yourself again they’re here. We can’t change what happened. We can change what comes next. 

Now bring on City.  

It all looked so good pre kick off

Nick Bruzon

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

5 Feb

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

Insert usual file photo

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

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

Our second trip to Liverpool this month

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allan

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

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

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

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

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

See you there.

Nick Bruzon

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

2 Feb

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

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

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

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

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

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

He isn’t alone.

Oh yes !!!

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

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

Wolves… horrific

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

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

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

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

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

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

He’s in !!

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

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

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

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

Cripes, I can’t wait. See you there.

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

Nick Bruzon

Jurassic Park !!! Crazy costume heralds ‘keeper return.

11 Jan

Game on. Brentford travel to Southampton this evening. Victory, should it be earned, will take us into the top ten. Any other result is not even an option being considered by yours truly. Optimism is high following a strong start to the year and some wonderful news off the training ground. We’ve got Liverpool (a) and Manchester United (h) to come after this one and an FA Cup fourth round tie at Everton. Immediately followed by the trip to Manchester City in the league. If Thomas Frank’s team ever wanted to be tested at the highest level then the opportunity is very much here in the next few weeks. First up though, the injury update.

Ordinarily we’d start with some reference to the Southampton game. Rightly so. It is the immediate focus but the news out of Brentford ‘official’ yesterday was jaw droppingly good. Not to mention laced with the simple question…. “Why?”

If ever some ‘Monday motivation’ (urghh – see also humpday Wednesday and Gameday Saturday) were needed then here it was by the bucketload. David Raya back in training. Or, rather, David Raya back in training but rocking up at Jersey Road in a T-Rex costume. Repeat, a T-Rex costume. To clarify, a dinosaur rather than a Mark Bolan corkscrew perm and dapper threads combo.

Jurassic Park !!!

Back on the grass? Or just the painkillers taking hold to inspire a remarkable return? If the smiles were broad at Jersey Road they were even bigger in cyberspace. The Brentford family as exited on Twitter about the next step in his return as his choice of unexpected training gear. It was one of those,  “What the actual…?” moments. One best just enjoyed. As much for his entrance as the sight of our number one looking as solid as one could hope in a shot stopping drill for the cameras.

Brentford official captured it in full. David’s idea, apparently. No idea why but you can’t deny its impressive. Not to mention making me wonder whether there is somebody else inside Buzzette at present if this is what he does as part of that journey back to full fitness?

Whilst a return to playing may be some way off still, just to see David doing his thing was a phenomenal boost. Kris Ajer’s return against Port Vale in the FA cup at the weekend had already given Bees’ fans a lift and then there was this. Yet just when things couldn’t get any better, they did. Thomas Frank using his press conference for the Southampton game to talk about Josh Dasilva. We’d all seen those pictures of him back in training last week but the news on a potential return was about as good as it gets for a player who has missed the entire Premier League campaign.

“I said to Josh the other day that he could be our best signing this year. I really hope he comes back in a fantastic place. Hopefully, five or six weeks if everything goes to plan and he could potentially be available”. That’s no time at all.

Granted, there was an understandable air of caution in the proviso that, “We need to build him very carefully and strong. He needs to have a proper pre-season to load him well. We can’t get too over-excited but everything has been fine so far. The medical staff have been fantastic and done a top job”. However, this suddenly feels close. Very close.

Josh was absolutely immense in the Championship and has already gone on to represent England U-21. With him and David back out there and Kris already in the team, it feels like we’ve had a transfer window hat trick without signing anyone. Just phenomenal news. Let’s not forget either that Josh is only 23. Whilst this absence has felt like an eternity, time is very much on his side when it comes it the future. Here’s to it being with Brentford.

Exciting news from the training ground

As for tonight, Southampton are no push-overs, that’s for sure. The challenge will be as tough as the aforementioned games with Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City. If not harder, given nobody outside of TW8 expects us to do anything against the teams from the North-West. Yet tonight, we are ahead of our hosts in the Premier League and are back to winning ways following the thing at Brighton. The comeback against Aston Villa was inspirational, with the pressure being cranked up to the nth degree until victory eventually came (even if the ultimate talking point remains Trezeguet’s theatrics at the death…).

So yes, we may be back in the zone but that still needs to come with the ultimate respect for who we are up against. Thomas would talk about their pressing and their drive.  “They go very front-footed and are at some stages the best high-pressing, energy team in the league. Then they have some key players; James Ward-Prowse is maybe the best set-piece taker in the league”.

He knows it. We know it. Sadly, there isn’t even time to parachute Ward-Prowse into my Fantasy Football team. A curse which worked so well against Aston Villa with the no-show from Ollie Watkins and two goals conceded by Ezri Konsa. Perhaps just an ‘any time’ goal scorer bet. Whilst it may mean missing out on a whopping £2.30, it could be the best pound invested given my own ongoing ineptitude when it comes to predicting football or winning bets.

Forget Wissa’s rocket – the Villa win was as much down to my own team selection

Still, whatever nonsense takes place in the build up, it all comes down to who Thomas starts and how they go? Can Kris Ajer force his way into the back three or will an appearance from the bench be part of his own, well planned return? Sergi Canos and Matthias Jensen are both available once more although I’d be amazed if Mads Roerslev misses out on the right. So it turns out to be a three-way fight between Dominic Thompson, Sergi or perhaps even the wildcard option of Saman Ghoddos on the left. Rico Henry is expected to be back for the weekend trip to Liverpool. With respect to the other three, the second he is fit then he will unquestionably go straight back in to the team.

As for the middle of the park, it has to be Janelt, Baptiste and Norgaard. Only injury to one of those will see Matthias Jensen force his way into the starting XI. They’re simply that good at present. Up top, Bryan alongside Ivan writes itself after the weekend. Albeit, we don’t know how much strength is in the legs after that short-term lay off. Roll on 6.46 when ‘official’ announce the team news.

Finally, just a thought about those who can’t make it at present. And no, this is not a reference to the ‘plastic’ fans who weren’t at Port Vale. Seriously? Personally speaking, I had a great time drinking a glass of wine on the couch with Mrs. B in front of the tv on Saturday. Sometimes, things have to give for any number of reasons – financial or otherwise.

Something which has come to a head for some of our own friends who sit alongside us in the North stand. If they are somehow reading (stranger things and all that) then know your presence has been sorely missed. Whilst we hope you are back soon, just look after yourselves and know that all in our group are thinking of you. Some of us miss games through choice. Others have less control over matters. It doesn’t make you any ‘less’ of a fan. Genuinely, I’d love a 100% attendance record but that’s just not always possible. At least I get a choice though. Take care and see you soon x

Until then, its on to Southampton. Safe travels to all that can make this one. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Will injury blow impact title chances?

27 Oct

After Iheanacho lifts over, Pérez collides with Raya while trying to latch onto Tielemans’ pass – both are fine to continue as play resumes. Not my words, the words of official Leicester City Twitter on Sunday afternoon at 3.46pm. Fast forward to Tuesday afternoon.  After a few days of tests and scans with the medical department, I’m gutted to say that I’ve damaged my Posterior Cruciate Ligament in my left knee on Sunday. Not my words, the words of Brentford goalkeeper David Raya as it was announced he will miss the next four to five months recovering from the injury sustained in the collision with Ayoze Pérez. All of which means preparation form tonight’s game with Stoke City along with the Premier league clashes with Burnley, Norwich City and way beyond are now back to the drawing board. Huesca loanee Álvaro Fernández  will be handed the gloves with the Bees now minus our inspirational shot stopper. 

Bad news from social media

Urghh. Something had seemed odd during the game when Raya hadn’t run up to cause havoc in the Leicester box late on. The award of a corner kick deep into the 7(seven) minutes of injury time was met with exhortations from the crowd for the Brentford ‘keeper to push up and cause mayhem in the opposition box. Instead, we got a rather tepid limp forward and a holding position maintained well inside his own half.

The irony being this moment occurred during time added on to make up for all the ‘treatment’ required by our visitors during the regulation ninety. Supporters infuriated by opponents, and I’ll be generous here, making the most of every moment they went to ground. Collapsing like industrial chimneys after the plunger had been, err, plunged.

Plunge the plunger…..

Cripes. Even Harry had said to me at full time. “Dad. Do you know who men of the match should be?”   Err, ‘men’? I questioned.  He continued, “The Leicester physios”. Well said that boy. Well said.

The regularity with which they collapsed to the floor before making a full recovery had not gone unobserverd by H, us, the entire North stand and fourth official who would eventually hold up the board. My word, It was almost as though it had been a preordained tactic.

Channel your inner Fred Dibnah. Get the lead and go to ground. Run down the clock. Grind it out.

Channelling their inner ‘Fred’ was a success for Leicester

Nobody is suggesting there was any particular malice from Perez, btw. At the time it had seemed like another brave save from Raya. Watching back the highlights on Match of the Day, it didn’t even warrant a viewing. Indeed the most distasteful element aside from the pronunciation of Boo-moo (one to file alongside Canyos) was the celebration from James Maddison for what transpired to be his winning goal.

We’d given him stick all game, and understandably given his own combination of cosying up to the ref whilst playing in bowling shoes, so one can hardly blame him for milking the moment.

I want to be the villain,” he said at full time. “It makes it all the sweeter when I score up that end.”  If nothing else, it makes our rematch on 19th March all the more intriguing. 

Giving it back to the West Stand

Hey, you never know. By that point David may be fit again. Fingers crossed the anti-gravity treadmill does it’s thing. We have the consolation in the fact that no surgery is required. Brentford head of medical Neil Greig confirming that this sort of injury ”Usually heals well without the need for surgery. David has already begun using a brace specifically designed to aid this process.”  You can read that one in full on ‘official’.

Until that point, its a case of best wishes to David off the field and the same to Álvaro Fernández on it. The reserve ‘keeper, on loan from Huesca, now has a chance to establish himself in the battle for the gloves. Whilst nobody would want to get their chance in this fashion, it’s how football goes. The Olympic silver medalist already has a full international cap to his name and so hardly as though we are chucking Don Incognito into the mix. He will no doubt be desperate to hit the ground running and propel Brentford back into the race for the Champion’s League places. Or beyond…. Had The Bees got the decisive goal on Sunday, we’d be waking up this morning placed fifth in the Premier League. Such fine margins in a race which still has a long way to run.

If nothing else, the Directors of Football seem to have got this ‘talent spotting’ thing sorted out just fine. Whilst of course I’m desperately sad to lose David, and for such a long period of a season in which he was making an even bigger name for himself than already, at least there is comfort to be taken in the cover. What this means for the Stoke City game this evening, where he was sure to feature, remains to be seen. Roll on 6.45pm and the team announcements for that news. I can’t imagine Thomas will risk him with his first choice league ‘keeper now MIA.

Then we’re on to Burnley. To Norwich City. To Newcastle United and a long run of games in which David will need to join the rest of us on the sidelines. Looking on and cheering. A run of games where we play some of the biggest names and sternest tests in English football. So just like the season to date then. 

There’s not much else to say at this point. The injury has been confirmed and we can’t dress it up any. A top class player is out. A replacement with all the potential is in. Bring on Saturday afternoon when we see just what Álvaro can do. Until then, it’s a case of knowing that the entire Brentford family is behind David, thinking of him and hoping for a speedy recovery.

David Raya is a Bee.

Nick Bruzon