Tag Archives: Norwich City

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

6 Apr

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

The current bottom 6 + Brentford

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

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

A supercomputer, yesterday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That final fixture breakdown…..

BURNLEY 12 points

06-04-22 Everton (H) W

10-04-22 Norwich (A) W

17-04-22 West Ham (A) L

 21-04-22 Southampton (H) W

 24-04-22 Wolverhampton Wanderers (H) L

 30-04-22 Watford (A) L

 07-05-22 Aston Villa (H) L

 15-05-22 Tottenham (A) L

 19-05-22 Aston Villa (A) L

 22-05-22 Newcastle United (W) 

NORWICH CITY 3 points

10-04-22 Burnley (H) L

 16-04-22 Manchester United (A) L

 23-04-22 Newcastle United (H) L

 30-04-22 Aston Villa (A) L

 07-05-22 West Ham (H) L

 11-05-22 Leicester ( A) L

 15-05-22 Wolverhampton Wanderers (A) L

 22-05-22 Tottenham (H) W

WATFORD 13 points

09-04-22 Leeds (H) W

16-04-22 Brentford (H) L

 23-04-22 Manchester City (A) L

 30-04-22 Watford v Burnley (H) W

 07-05-22 Crystal Palace (A) D

 11-05-22 Everton (H) W

 15-05-22 Leicester City (H) W

 22-05-22 Chelsea (A) L

LEEDS UNITED 3 points

09-04-22 Watford  (A) L

25-04-22 Crystal Palace (A) L

30-04-22 Manchester City (H) L

08-05-22 Arsenal (A) L

11-05-22 Chelsea (H) L

15-05-22 Brighton (H) W

22-05-22 Brentford (A) L

EVERTON 7 points

06-04-22 Burnley (A) L

09-04-22 Manchester United (H) L

20-04-22 Leicester (H) W

24-04-22 Liverpool (A) L

01-05-22 Chelsea (H) L

07-05-22 Leicester (A) L

11-05-22 Watford (A) L

15-05-22 Brentford (H) D

19-05-22 Crystal Palace (H) W

22-05-22 Arsenal (A) L

NEWCASTLE UNITED 8 points

08-04-22 Wolverhampton Wanderers (H) D

17-04-22 Leicester (H) W

 20-04-22 Crystal Palace (H) D

 23-04-22 Norwich ( A) W

 30-04-22 Liverpool (H) L

 08-05-22 Manchester City (A) L

 16-05-22 Arsenal (H) L

 22-05-22 Burnley (A) L

A question of kit. Could we? Should we?

16 Mar

The spectre of fixture reshuffling for TV hangs heavy once again. “Our match away to Manchester United has been moved to Monday May 2. This game will kick-off at 8pm at Old Trafford. Fans should note that this date is subject to Manchester United’s involvement in the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final”. Not my words. The words of Brentford official. At the same time confirming that the home game with Tottenham Hotspur on 23rd April has had kick off pushed back to 5.30pm. Again, subject to potential European fixtures . Much like January’s game in Liverpool, the date is now locked in. Unless cup football gets in the way. Nothing like looking out for the fans although, at least, the risk of Manchester United being further moved has disappeared as quickly as it was announced. Tuesday night’s defeat at home to Atlético Madrid just hours after the TV announcement means that interest in this season’s European competition is well and truly over. Elsewhere, with Leicester City next up for Brentford, we look to that game aswell as mulling over a possible kit ‘first’ for the Bees.

More to follow, below

First up, TV. For Brentford it’s the sort of ‘nice’ problem to have. A club in demand and a further reminder that we’re a Premier League team. Sometimes, its still a case of a self-administered pinch to remind ourselves we’re in the top flight. Such has been the journey to get here over the years. Yet here we are. Deserving of our place and back on form. Ivan Toney banging them in for fun and Christian Eriksen fast carving himself a place in club history.

His signing could end up being the shrewdest, boldest move of the Premier League season. His impact has been immediate. Burnley and Norwich carved open. Less canaries, more turkeys. But hey, enough about the commentators. Eriksen’s reward being an immediate recall to the Denmark squad announced yesterday for the games with the Netherlands and Serbia later this month. If he carries on at this rate the queue to secure his longer term signature over the summer is going to be a long one. Of course, I’d love it to be with Brentford but that choice is going to be down to the player and bigger powers than the aspirations of one supporter with his head in the clouds.

Then again the lure of our set up, Thomas Frank and the welcome received so far may talk louder than any dumper truck full of cash offered up by other clubs. You never know…

Christian Eriksen – had a blinder against Burnley

Until then, we’ve got the trip to Leicester City this Sunday. A 2pm kick off (again, European football getting in the way) with no official TV coverage. Presumably those unable to get a ticket for the sold out away end may find a means to circumnavigate technologies ‘The Internet’ for live streaming.

The focus on Sunday will be in Brentford maintaining the winning run. In seeing if Ivan Toney can keep up that goal scoring form that sees him up to fifth in the Premier League goal scoring charts. His eleven for the season see our man one behind Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Sadio Mané and Diogo Jota (both Liverpool) in joint second place and level with Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min (Spurs). Not bad company to be keeping and with only Mohamed Salah above them (cripes, its no wonder Liverpool are still in the title race with that amount of firepower), the calls for Ivan to be selected for England are starting to grow. Whether they are answered at this point remains to be seen but, if nothing else, the national team’s historic form in penalty shoot outs alone suggests his eventual selection is inevitable.

Sunday also sees another coming together with pantomime villain James Maddison. He may aswell have turned up in a top hat, cape and sporting a waxed moustache when the Foxes visited Lionel Road back in October. His full-time admission that “I want to be the villain,” …“it makes it all the sweeter when I score up that end.”  Further endearing him to Brentford fans whose skin he’d spent the entire game getting under with his theatrics. Then again, he wasn’t alone.

Hmmmmm

Our Harry asked me at full time. “Dad. Do you know who men of the match should be?”   Err, ‘men’? I questioned.  He continued, “The Leicester physios”. 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. The Foxes collapsing like chimneys. Brendan Rodgers very much channeling his inner Fred Dibnah when it came to setting up his team.

Channelling their inner ‘Fred’ was a success for Leicester last time out

Just like the visit of number 26 with Burnley at the weekend, football fans don’t forget. We have long memories and this one will be front and centre on Sunday. Much like Russell Slade and ten times better Harlee Dean, these things have a tendency to come back and bite you in the backside. Here’s hoping Brentford can invoke the spirit of another pantomime villain and remember that revenge is a dish best served cold. Or, in this case, lukewarm.

The season continues to deliver. Most observers had Brentford written off before the campaign began. Instead, its Leeds United and Everton who are the ones duking it out in the relegation places. Whilst most fans would, I am sure, like a few more points for comfort I’m still looking upwards. Beating Leicester City on Sunday with sufficient GD swing will see us overtake the currently 12th placed team. That’s not a bad incentive to go for it with less than ten games remaining in the season.

The other question remains one of ‘kit’. Or should that be two questions? Firstly, yours truly. I make no secret of my own shirt nerdy. With ‘several’ shirts from the last five decades at home, one has always been worn when watching Brentford. Always, That is, until Norwich City when the new ‘lucky’ green jacket got an an outing. A late ‘70s polyester masterclass in fashion that time forgot. Yet… we won. No shirt. No colours, beyond the addition of the yellow / blue hat ‘away’ hat. Next up, Burnley. Same again. No colours. Just the green jacket and the hat. We won.

It seems obvious what to do wear next time out but, the one small problem being…..Mrs. Bruzon hates it. Absolutely hates it. “You look like a gnome” being the polite way of putting things. My protests that, “The table doesn’t lie” falling on deaf hears. As it stands. 

Domestic bliss or playing the part, no matter how small, in keeping a winning run going ? What to do? What to do…..? 

The other kit question being that of this season’s offerings. We all know what’s going on in Europe at the moment. The reaction of the International community to the attrocities in Ukraine has been pretty much universal – the handful of dickhead countries aside. Here, Premier League games have seen stadia drapped in Ukrainian colours and huge murals of the national flag held aloft prior to kick off. Again, support has been largely universal – the dickhead club aside.

However, how about going one better? How about getting a one off kit commissioned? Match shirts to be auctioned off afterwards for charity to help Ukranian refugees?

Might Brentford be the ones to nail our colours to the mast and help lead the way as we have done so often before?  Kitman Bob? Matthew Benham? If either of you are reading (err, its a lovely thought….)  Brentford official? Could we? More importantly, should we?

Everyone talks the talk but why don’t we walk the walk? Forgive the shoddy photoshop but you get the gist. What about it?

For now though, at least we can start booking the train to Manchester United and awaiting the game with Leicester City. I can’t wait for that one. Bring it on and see you there. All being well, in the green jacket.

Until then, here’s the Burnley catch up.

Nick Bruzon

Would you like salt with that ?

13 Mar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

Wins are like buses at the moment. Bees – Burnley debrief.

13 Mar

How could Brentford follow up last week’s win at Norwich City? Quite simply, go out and do it all again. This time, Burnley were the visitors. Memories of number 26 still living strong in the minds of Bees’ supporters. Christian Eriksen making his first home start. Ivan Toney with three goals to his name at Carrow Road, chomping at the bit to go and do it all over again.

Didn’t Brentford do it in style? A 2-0 defeat of a double-parked double-decker Burnley bus seeing three more points for the Bees and two more goals for that man Toney. We left it late but justice was ultimately done. As ever at this point, we ask who impressed? Who was the star man? Who is in line for our top performer of the season ?

And, as ever, the answers to all of those – not to mention a deeper look at the team performance – can be found here. Enjoy. And here’s to Leicester City next week…

Nick Bruzon

Who’s falling apart (again)? Is Chelsea off?

11 Mar

Questions. Questions. Questions. For a day where Brentford fans had to sit on the sidelines and wait the chance to follow up our defeat of Norwich with Saturday’s visit from Burnley, there was plenty going on. All the talk on social media was around Chelsea. With Roman Abramovich finally sanctioned (and his UK assets frozen) the club are able to continue playing but will not be allowed to sell any more tickets – amongst other special conditions. The other news of interest was Leeds falling apart. Again. New manager. Same result. A 3-0 home defeat to Aston Villa puts the Elland Road club even closer to those bottom three places.  

Norwich, last Saturday.

First up, Chelsea. Its all a bit of a mystery what it means for Brentford fans. With the Bees due to visit Stamford Bridge in just a few weeks (April 2nd), ticket sales have gone on hold whilst clarity is sought from the Premier League as to what we can / can’t do. The statement out of ‘official’ was understandably nondescript, given as nobody has a clue. All sorts of theories are doing the rounds, ranging from full refunds for those who got tickets in the first tranche though those same individuals being allowed to attend as part of one of the final away contingents in the foreseeable. There was even, somewhat unlikely, talk of tickets being made available for free/ charity. One things for sure, regular sales are now stopped with immediate effect. 

The reaction from Blues’ fans was the usual polarising of opinion that is social media. Full support for the move versus full on rage about supporters being punished. Other being abused for daring to support what is now happening. For me, Clive, its the absolute right thing to do. Cripes – look out your window. Get your head out of your arse. Turn on the TV. The defence that ‘Abramovich isn’t making any money’ from Chelsea clearly ignoring the fact that he’d make dumper trucks full if choosing to sell off some / all of his assets. Regardless of your feelings about him as an individual, he has been targeted for a specific reason. His links to that maggot penised dickhead running the show in Russia. 

I’m no expert, but somebody really seems to be over-compensating

That’s it. End of. If it means we get our matchday experience pulled then boo-hoo. Of course I’d rather see Brentford play in person but should that fail to transpire then we’ll have to miss out in the context of the bigger picture. Besides, given Season Ticket holders are still able to attend Chelsea will retain a largely full house. Just less tourists and potentially no away support. All transfer activity has been suspended , their travel budget has been slashed and they might find themselves waking up next to Lenny Henry on overnight trips but they can still play. For now.

Shirt sponsors Three mobile have also asked for their brand to be removed from the shirt although that didn’t seem to happen in time for last night’s defeat of Norwich City.  More will, no doubt, become clear in the coming days.

As one observer looked to summarise it: They are stuck with Lukaku, but only season ticket holders will be booing him now.

Parking the bus may take on a new meaning for Chelsea

Elsewhere, Leeds United fell apart. Again. New manger Jesse Marsch followed up Saturday’s loss at Leicester City with a 3-0 home humping at the hands of Aston Villa. That’s six defeats in a row with 21 goals conceded over that period and only two scored. Those in the 2-4 reverse at home to Manchester United. All of a sudden, Saturday’s visit from Norwich City has the feel of a real relegation six-pointer with Marsch calling it a “version of a final”. This, something barely anybody would have considered at the start of the campaign but all of a sudden a very real prospect. With Watford also getting thumped last night (4-0 at Wolves), the two clubs in the bottom relegation slots are looking a long way from safety. Points in the bag very much better than games in hand, as we’ve been saying all season.

The big question being who is third favourite for the drop? Burnley currently have the box seat. Leeds and Everton have the anti-form. Of course, Brentford welcome Sean Dyche’s team this weekend. Our own victory over Norwich on Saturday left supporters in fine fettle. As much due to getting a win under the belt as the performances of Ivan Toney and, of course, Christian Eriksen. The Dane was simply magnificent. Ivan, ice cold with his finishing. Nerves of steel with his hat-trick put away in some style. 

Whilst I’m acutely aware that a win for Brentford will help Leeds out of their own predicament, it has to be all out for another three points to the Bees. Burnley have already confirmed they’ll be missing captain Ben Mee, meaning number 26 will be under more pressure. For Brentford, the team names itself unless there are any unexpected injuries. Whilst we have now lost the element of surprise, formation wise, that was so wonderful at Carrow Road the way that team played means more of the same has to be the only way forward. The difference that a switch to 4-3-3 made was evident to anyone who has been watching this team for more than three seconds. Sweeping attack. Playing on the front food. Laser-pointed delivery from Eriksen. It was a thing of beauty and now we get to show it off at home.

The world is a horrible place at the moment. Last weekend gave some much needed breathing space from the pressure. A chance to switch off from it all for a few hours and just enjoy football. Here’s to more of the same on Saturday.

Bring it on and see you there.

Norwich was a great chance to switch off and enjoy football for football’s sake

Nick Bruzon

Post match debrief. Clubs at the bottom have one L of a weekend.

8 Mar

Brentford got back to winning ways on Saturday with the 3-1 defeat of Norwich City at Carrow Road. Ivan Toney’s hat-trick just one of many talking points that included Christian Eriksen going the distance, a new look Bees’ formation and VAR coming to our aid on more than one occasion. All of which puts a spring in the step for Saturday’s game at home to Burnley. Sean Dyche’s team joining Watford, Everton and Leeds United with another ‘L’ to their name after the last of the results from the weekend fixtures (that 5-0 thumping administered to Everton by Spurs) have been counted.

As ever at this point, we take the opportunity to look at who shone for Brentford. Who was our star man in Norwich, who is a shoe-in for Burnley and who leads the overall chart to find our top performer? You can find the answers to all of those, here…. In the game week 28 review.

Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon  

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

6 Mar

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

Thomas won the tactical battle

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

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

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

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

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

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

For a moment…..

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

NGL this slaps. I think.

5 Mar

It’s not been the best week, if we’re being completely honest. The night times dominated by stress dreams about the situation in Europe. The days, seeing it tough to focus. As much as anything else due to the, so called, ‘mash-up’ of Wonderwall with the theme from TV’s ‘Friends. Something I still can’t decide whether is awesome or awful but has, regardless, stuck in the head like some insane ear worm that won’t stop nibbling. To cap it all, I’m trying to use the Pick your Bees starting line-up feature on the BBC for the Brentford – Norwich City game and it won’t let me select Sergi Canos as a defender. What the actual? Which is supremely frustrating because, if for no other reason, I wanted to see how he’d look in a flat back four today. So it’s Mads Roerslev – for BBC purposes. On the plus side, all of this various angst means we continue to push the Newcastle United game further to the dark recesses of the mind. Although if you would like to read more about that one then you can do so, here.

So, today’s game. Well we’re all fully fit. Apparently. The only absentee will be Josh Dasilva who starts the first of his three match ban for the red card he picked up against Newcastle. Thomas Frank used his press conference to tell us that Christian Eriksen keeps progressing and is in a good place. For me, he absolutely has to start today and should. We can always sub him out if fitness concerns  – natural given the length of time since he last played a competitive 90 minutes – kick in and legs begin to tire.  However, the key to this one is going for it from the off. 

On Ivan Toney, Thomas confirmed  that the player, “Is in a much better place. He played three lots of 20 minutes on Tuesday and looked good. Hopefully he is ready.”

Hopefully he is. Again, though, for me he starts. If he is fit then go for broke. Let’s not pussy foot around. Full tilt from kick off. The 20 minute salvo. And then the same again in the second half before the inevitable substitutions on 60+. 

Personally, I’d like to see us trying to play for the entire game but perhaps I’m just a dinosaur. The game and tactics have changed but, equally, can we at least have our strongest XI from the off today, please. Even if they only last an hour let’s go for that early lead.

I saw a stat this morning that said Norwich have scored the first goal in the fewest matches (5), but Brentford have conceded the opener most often (19). 

Those aren’t my words, Carol. They’re the words of the official Premier League Twitter feed. If that doesn’t tell you the opportunity for something to give is there then nothing will. The question being who takes advantage in a battle of tactical decisions? Thomas Frank or Dean Smith?

Tactics will be key today

The Norwich fans will be up for it. Their players knowing that each passing game sees the chance of Premier League survival getting slimmer and slimmer. This will absolutely be one they’ve targeted as winnable.

I would if I was Dean Smith – our current for is, on paper, terrible. Even if the performances haven’t always matched that. Yet the only stats that count are balls in the back of the net and points on the board. The time for justice and deserving has long gone. Instead, Brentford need to translate some of these words into actual results. As, of course, do Norwich City. 

The good news is that there is a whiff of change in the air. Thomas also used his conference to confirm some flexibility. To suggest we may look to a more traditional defensive line up, saying “I will be more flexible for the rest of the season so, depending on the game and the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, I will use a back three sometimes and a back four sometimes.”

This, something that should allow a higher, more pressing formation with players playing in their right positions. Even if this will inevitably mean Pontus Janson and Mathias Jensen are sacrificed from the starting XI. Kris Ajer on the right side of the the two centre backs and nowhere, nowhere near any sort of suggestion as a makeshift full back, please. Football is emotive and the thought of not picking Pontus is almost sacrilege in some quarters but, if we go two, we do it properly. None of this crowbarred nonsense. Rico, Ethan, Kris, Mads.  

And I say inevitably dropping Mathias Jensen. He’s clearly a nailed on starter for Thomas, in normal circumstances. For me, when he’s on it I’d agree. Recent performances have definitely been up there. The issue remains consistency. For every two good things there’s one wayward. For every man of the match performance (and there have been a few) he has a stinker. With Christian Eriksen available then he plays with Vitaly. Christian Norgaard sitting in front of the back four. Bryan and Sergi, or even Saman, wider. Ivan up top.

As we’ve said many times, everyone is an expert from the comfort of their armchair or playing Football Manager. It’s a pressure free environment when you are doing it in the pub with a pint or three. Proposed strategy quietly forgotten about when the team win; gobbed-off about when we slip up. Granted, that’s been a lot recently. There are very few amongst us who have actually managed a professional football club or even attempted to (ahem).

just saying

Then again, this passion and debate is what makes the game of football so wonderful. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone would do it differently. We all have players we love and others who we cannot believe get anywhere close to starting. Long may that continue.

At least change is coming. One would suggest that given the experiments Thomas has been undertaking on the training field, and his words in the press conference, that will start from today. Regardless, there’ll be those amongst us still not happy with how he picks. And if so, ask yourself what’s more important – backing that team and winning the game or bitching at individuals wearing the red and white? Just saying. You can read the full piece from the press conference, here.

Until then, safe travels to Norwich. If you really need anything to help eat up the time time then Dave Berry has a double Christian Eriksen special. Yours truly on yesterday’s Absolute radio breakfast show but, infinitely better, on his Doctor Next Door podcasts where, amongst other episodes, there’s a genuinely interesting and reassuring discussion on pacemakers and the heart.

This could be huge. I can’t wait. See you there. And if you don’t have time for a podcast, there’s always the Friends – Oasis thing…. Even if I’ve no idea what ngl this slaps actually means.

Da Kidz..? Little help please.

Nick Bruzon 

As famous faces look on, opportunity knocks.

4 Mar

We’ve had a few days down time but now, with the next game here, time to get back on the horse. Last time out was about as emotive and angry as it gets although, at least, the correct decision was eventually made. Not that it changes anything about what’s going on in the more immediate short term. Please do have a read – you can find that here. Back home, Brentford face a trip to Norwich City. We’ll be minus Josh Dasilva after his red card in the game with Newcastle United for a team that will, surely, start Christian Eriksen this time around. Talk about a half decent option lying in wait ! For those of us kicking our heels until the weekend, there was also the chance to see our own FA Cup vanquishers, Frank Lampar…. etc Everton, in action last night as they progressed to the quarters watched by a trio of famous faces from Absolute Radio.

L-R : Matt Dyson, Glenn Moore, Andy Bush are joined by Michael Caine

The obvious starting point is Norwich City v Brentford. Dean Smith v Thomas Frank. A game against a Canaries side who look were looking nailed on for a return to the Championship until, eventually, earning a first win of the season at, errr, Lionel Road. A game that ended in the ignominious position of Charlie Goode playing up top. It was to be Daniel Farke’s last at the helm and , since then, our ex has seen his team pick up the points although still remain adrift. Win the game and they are four points (effectively five, given goal difference) begin Brentford). Lose it and the gap becomes a chasm. 

For Brentford, less a must win and more a don’t lose. With Watford hosting Arsenal and Burnley entertaining (if that’s the word) Chelsea, this weekend sees a wonderful opportunity to put some clear air between the bottom three and the rest of the Premier League. With Everton facing a trip to sporadic Spurs and Leeds United, now bereft of Marcello Bielsa, looking to see if they can stop their catastrophic haemoraging of goals at Leicester City, its not just the bottom three with a vested interest in how the game at Carrow Road turns out.

Another trip to Norwich – H still not ready for his debut

For what its worth, I’m not sure playing it safe is the way to go in this one. Playing for a point a somewhat redundant exercise. Norwich will recognise the opportunity this represents for them given our own current run of form. Given our own no-show against Newcastle last week. That,  a game which we can file in the bottom five performances of the season: Southampton (a), Burnley (a), Brighton (a) and Norwich (h) being the other four.

They’ll be on us from the off. Let them. The best form of defence is attack. Cut the cagey sideways stuff. It hasn’t worked . Feed Ivan. Start Christian. Let the centre backs do their job. Hope we don’t concede a corner (albeit that has been much, much less of a problem since David Raya and the defence have got back in sync after that long absence). As much as anything, keep it loud from the crowd. “Where are you? WHERE ARE YOU? Let’s be ‘avin you!”, to coin a phrase.

Happy birthday??? to my good friend Delia

If nothing else, Norwich are hitting anti-form too. Aside from losing in the FA Cup midweek, their previous three Premier League games have seen 9 goals conceded in a run of defeats that culminated in that rarest of things against Southampton. Namely, Dean Smith not claiming he was managing had deserved to win. Anything but, with his post match interview revealing that, “The better team won on the night, we can’t argue with that”. Not. A. Typo.

So if this is an opportunity for them, it is very much one for us. A chance to get back to winning ways. The first of two huge games (Burnley are at home next week) where we could really inflict some relegation pain on our opponents aswell as shushing any noise about the R word amongst our own support. Form isn’t great, that’s for sure, with Newcastle giving some genuine concern about our ability to get stuck in and to adapt. It IS hard playing with ten men but it was still frustrating, even allowing for the deficit. The positive being how we played until the red card was, understandably, shown. Despite the best efforts of one supporter to persuade Mike Dean otherwise….

You can’t blame him for trying

Win, lose or draw the previous game is forgotten about after 24 hours. That’s the mantra from Thomas Frank. It needs to be one we stick to this weekend. We’ll have 11 men on the pitch and a chance to calm any nerves. Of course we had the same chance last weekend and fluffed our lines. Fingers crossed there’s no repeat this time around. There shouldn’t be. And you can catch up on the player / team performance ratings from that Newcastle game here.

The other lead in to this one was at Everton in the FA Cup last night. Boreham Wood eventually going down 2-0 but preserving their ‘goals against’ column longer than Brentford did in the previous round. We’d let in two by the time that Salomon Rondon eventually broke the non-leaguer’s hearts. Spurred on by a crowd of over 38,000 (that included Absolute Radio DJs Andy Bush,  Matt Dyson and Glenn Moore), the Toffees found it hard going to break down a resolute backline. Victory was eventual and, perhaps, inevitable but the manner of the performance will give further heart to Leeds, Watford, Burnley and those other clubs fighting it out at the wrong end of the Premier League table.

All being well, that won’t include Brentford. One can’t ignore form. One can recognise the opportunity of the next two games which, if taken on top of our current points total, should see us propelled well, well clear. 

For what it’s worth, I’m still totally confident. This is the Premier League, not a walk in the park. There are no easy games but there are those we’ll have earmarked. Norwich will be one. And I can’t wait. Bring it on and see you there. 

He came on against Newcastle. Surely a start is next?

Nick Bruzon

Former Brentford ‘keeper has the balls that FIFA lack. Well said Szczesny (and Poland).

28 Feb

Monday morning. The weekend has seen Brentford go down at home to Newcastle United, keeper Kepa take the worst penalty since Yoann Barbet found low-earth orbit against Norwich City and Leeds United parting company with Marcelo Bielsa. Yet it was dominated by FIFA proving themselves as spineless as ever when it comes to Russia. The ongoing and barbaric atrocities being committed by Putin and his lackies in the Ukraine have resulted in global condemnation, ejection from everything as far afield as the Eurovision song contest to hosting their own Grand Prix (and anything in between) whilst the footballing community have made their own feelings very clear.  Wojciech Szczesny and Poland leading the charge and refusing to play Russia next month. 

We’ve always loved the player, affectionally known as Chesney, at Brentford after his 25 game stint in 2009/10. It seems like five minutes ago he was pulling out all the stops, game after game. Ripping up tress in goal and performing last line of defence heroics that haven’t been matched until, well, probably David Raya. Now, he’s up on the global stage making his feelings (and those of his countrymen) known loud and clear.

Speaking to the DAZN Sports streaming service, Szczesny was unequivocable with his thoughts:

“We won’t play against Russia at the World Cup, that’s for sure. Let’s see if FIFA will have balls to give Russia the World Cup by forfeit – I don’t think so”.

“I refuse to stand on the pitch, wearing the colours of my country and listen to the national anthem of Russia! I refuse to take part in a sporting even that legitimases the actions of the Russian government.”

Well said, that man. With Sweden and the Czech Republic joining the Poles in their decision, FIFA have finally flinched. There has been no kicking the Russian team out. Instead, a typically half-arsed measure of still allowing them to compete but on neutral ground under the name Football Union of Russia (RFU). No flags , no anthems, no flags. But still playing. 

President of the Polish FA, Cezary Kulesza, was as forthright as Szcezny on hearing this news. He called it “Totally unacceptable” with, incase anybody was in any doubt, the commitment that.. “We are not interested in participating in this game of appearances. Our stance remains intact: Polish national team will not play with Russia, no matter what the name of the team is.“

Look. I get its not the fault of the Russian players or Russian people. Robert Lewandowski was amongst those also recognising that side. At the same time, giving a government and a dictator who thrives on his own ego, on global recognition and some misplaced macho bullshit where the world order is still rooted in the 18th century any credibility or attention, no matter how watered down it may be, is a complete and utter NO. It was an open goal and FIFA have missed. Missed it worse than Diana Ross taking a penalty.

The world looks on at a c*nt

Instead, they’re now in a situation where Gianni Infantino still sleeps with the Order of Friendship medal given to him by Vladimir Putin under his pillow. Where the head of FIFA has acted with all the speed of a turning oil tanker in swerving questions before, finally, finally coming out with this nonsensical watered down rubbish. Nobody is going to play against Russia in the current circumstances. The World Cup, already under huge scrutiny given the controversy of Qatar, could become an even bigger farce than it is already looking like turning in to. And rightly so.

The World is burning at the moment. Football had a chance to draw a line in the sand. To show strong leadership. To show support  – primarily for Ukraine but also its other members. The football community has come out and made their feelings quite clear. Even in the symbolic gestures from supporters waving banners, flags and going to games in yellow and blue. From players openly saying they refuse to participate in the charade. 

The game’s leadership, anything but. It makes me sick. F*ck Ras-Putin. F*ck FIFA. Our beautiful game is currently being made to look very ugly at the top level.

Anyway, that’s just me. For what it’s worth. Trying to bring up a young child to know the difference between right and wrong or explain what the heck is going on in the world at present isn’t an easy job. I get sleepless nights over where this could end up but, at least, I still have my principles. It’s a shame others don’t. Oh well, enjoy that medal Gianni.

I was going to talk about the League cup, about Leeds United , about Newcastle and about Brentford going to Norwich City but really can’t be bothered with any more. This stuff is written on the hoof. Made up as it goes along and having done so, I’m over football for now.  A relief for everyone. If you really want to then you can get the player / performance review from the Bees – Magpies game, here

I’m downing tools for a few days.

Be good.

enjoy that medal

Nick Bruzon