Tag Archives: Rico Henry

1-1 draw sees another sting in the tail.

31 Aug

What else can you say about Brentford? Five games in to the season and we’re already running out of superlatives to describe the indefatigability (is the even a word?) of Thomas Frank’s squad. Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace was, like Everton on Saturday, another game where we left it until the very end of the game to finally reap our reward. Yoanne Wissa left unmarked in the box and rising like a salmon to head home Vitaly Janelt’s delicious ball over the home defence. It was no less than we deserved on the balance of play but, as we all know, it is goals not possession or chances that eventually win games. As with Everton on Saturday, Brentford broke opposition hearts after delivering a timely reminder that football is a 90 minute game. The visit of Leeds United on Saturday cannot come quickly enough. Tails are up and morale is high. 

What a finish at The Palace

Brentford were magnificent. Crystal Palace away is always a tough one. The team announcement made that challenge even sterner with the news that Christian Norgaard had joined Pontus Jansson on the sidelines. All being well both will return for Leeds on Saturday although, if not, the Bees look to be in safe hands. Ben Mee and Zanka had another run out together at the back although the real defensive plaudits should be handed to Rico Henry and Aaron Hickey. My word, they were magnificent. The later keeping Wilfried Zaha under lock and key all game (although hats off for that moment of genius to produce the opening goal on the hour) and playing a huge part in the Palace man’s emotional post match interview.

The other man to play his part in that was none other than Yoanne Wissa. It would be fair to say he didn’t have the strongest game of his career against Everton at the weekend but what a difference a few days can make. Like some hybrid of David Fairclough (kids, ask a grown up) and Jota, he once again came off the bench to turn it up to 11. Chock full of energy and with what is now his trademark – a late, late goal.

It was as exhilarating for the Bees faithful as it was devastating for Palace. In particular, Zaha. Despite a butt clenching wait for VAR to do it’s thing, justice was eventually delivered. Cripes, not sure my heart could take another wait of that length. It was bad enough at Fulham when Ivan Toney’s back foot was adjudged to be interfering with play as he ran in the opposite direction to their goal. At least, then, there had been time to turn it around. Had this one been somehow chalked off I suspect the officials may have required safe passage from the field of play. At least, to protect their ears.

Instead it was Brentford who almost wrapped up all three points, having gone behind to Zaha’s wonderful strike on the hour. Ivan Toney with the pass of the match to release Rico Henry from nowhere. Vicente Guaita produced a fine stop to smother his effort and push it away. He was powerless to do anything about Ben Mee’s header into the ground and onto the crossbar from the resulting corner. Huge sighs of relief all round from the home support. The game wrapping up shortly after and the spoils shared. The full post match debrief and player review is up here now for anybody wanting a little bit more on the match specifics.

So close from Ben Mee

For now, it is another well earned point. Three draws, one win and a solitary defeat from our opening five fixtures. Brentford currently in ninth as we await that point where the fledgling table can officially be declared to have taken shape. The response to our equaliser as joyous as they come. The performance equally so, especially given the absentees. Janelt’s ball to Wissa vying with Ivan’s to Rico for moment of the match. Hickey and Henry may sound like a legal firm but, in practice, the flying full backs give Brentford even further options down either flank. 

It would be wonderful to take the lead rather than play catch up. Only Manchester United (h) has seen us do that. Every other game has seen us fall behind until, mostly, reaping some form of reward. Then again, Thomas has been quite clear about having his starting and finishing XIs. In using his tactics to benefit from the fact that a game of football lasts for 90 minutes. My heart would benefit from the calmness of 4-0 lead on the half hour every game but there’s no denying the excitement generated by those late, late points.

As for Wissa, what do you do? Keep him as the perennial super(b) sub where his energy and ability inspire the team, invigorate the fans and and get the goals? Or have him on from the start with the hope he gets the rub of the green? Who’d be a head coach? What a lovely problem for Thomas to have.  

This Saturday sees the visit of Leeds United. There aren’t enough words to describe the history on that one. To talk up the heartbreaking denouement to last season where, ironically, it was Brentford who fell apart. Sergi’s equaliser setting up the chance for the win that would have relegated Leeds. Instead, his red card for exuberant celebration and a rash challenge saw the then 9 man Bees unable to push on for the win that would have sunk our opponents. Instead, Jack Harrison’s 94th minute goal secured all three points and safety for the Elland Road outfit.

That was then. This is now. Whilst I am sure Thomas Frank will have put it all behind him and will be playing the moment, you can be sure the fans won’t have. How sweet would it be to pick up another home win against these of all opponents.

Roll on Saturday when we find out….

Brentford official would share this on their Twitter feed

Nick Bruzon

Stock up on the popcorn. Wiggle into that butt-groove.

18 May

This Thursday is one of those special dates in our house. Very much a case of family time and one spent together, the fixture list has now thrown a potato skin into the works. With Brentford hosting Leeds United on Sunday, the requirements in that game will be dictated by what plays out tomorrow night. Everton look to secure their safety against Palace, 9th placed Leicester City (still in our sights) visit Chelsea and of course there’s the big one. Aston Villa v Burnley. One or more points for the Clarets will see them up to 17th and Leeds pushed back into the relegation zone with just one game to play. That game. Persuading Mrs. B. that the evening is best spent together on the sofa watching Burnley is going to be a big ask. 

I guess there’s the Fantasy Football card. At the last look I’m fairly certain she had Ollie Watkins in her team. Could the former Brentford man come back to haunt us and scupper the dream? Victory for Villa will see them overtake the Bees in our pursuit of the top ten although, for what its worth, Burnley were desperately unlucky on Sunday. The penalty awarded against them in the 1-0 defeat at Tottenham as ambiguous as they come. Their own fightback not quite enough. Then, Leeds United taking until the 92nd minute to finally level the scores delivered an even bigger kick to the unmentionables.

That was then, this is now. It’s been. It’s gone. It’s over. The table is what it is and Burnley are the ones who still have the upper hand. Burnley the ones with the ability to turn the screw and heap the pressure on Leeds. And Everton for that matter, given they’re still not safe after Brentford put in that fine, fine performance at the weekend.

An amazing game at Everton

So we’ve got big questions to ask going forward. Namely, “Do you fancy watching Villa-Burnley this evening?”   One would hope that the potential state it could leave the table in as we head towards Sunday’s season finale will be a sufficient draw to tempt even the most neutral of observers. The prospect of what may be on offer. What could occur. Which team may have the final stay in who goes and who stays simply too big to comprehend. Too tantalising a lure not to have an interest in what happens tomorrow night. A season which has gone all the way at the top (where Liverpool could still, theoretically, win the title), in the middle (with Brentford aiming for 9th) and in the relegation battle will finally deliver some answers. 

It has been amongst the most exciting on record and having the Bees playing our part has been the cherry on the icing on the cake. We’ll look back at some of our own highlights in Sunday’s programme column – whittling them down to a final ten was about as tough as it gets. Especially given number ten might even play out in front of our eyes there and then. Albeit we need Burnley to play their part. For what it’s worth Clive, I think they will. Thursday is going to be huge and I can’t wait to see how it leaves things. Hey – we may even get to watch it.

Prior to then, tonight sees the Brentford Player Of The Year awards. The ‘live show’ starting at 7pm and includes the supporter votes for both player of the year and goal of the season. For the record, mine went to David Raya and Yoanne Wissa (at West Ham) respectively. The former has been the key difference to us this season. Brentford with him and Brentford without him as discernible as night and day. 

What a moment at West Ham as Wissa leaves it late

Christian Norgaard and Rico Henry seem to be the favourites, going by what I read on social media, but whomever wins it will be thoroughly deserving. Rico, incidentally, going top of our season long game-by-game review following his own starman performance at Everton on Sunday. Christian, now uncatchable in having the most top five appearances. You can find that here.

Stock up on the popcorn.

Wiggle into that butt-groove.

There could be a lot of time spent on the sofa over the next few nights. Maybe in our house, too…..

Christian is well in the running for POTY

Nick Bruzon

The dream is on.

16 May

What a Sunday. Brentford were magnificent, simply magnificent, in a 3-2 defeat of 9 man Everton. Burnley robbed by the most dubious of penalties at Spurs. Leeds United leaving it to 90+2 to salvage a draw that keeps them one point above The Clarets, albeit with a game more played. Next weekend is going to be huge. The Bees still with a very realistic chance of a top ten finish. As interestingly, that final relegation spot is going to go to the wire. The dream really is on. Should Burnley pick up a point in either of their final two games, then Brentford will have the final say in who goes down. Could it be Leeds? Could it….?

What an afternoon

Let’s start at Goodison Park though. We’ve likely all caught up with it by now. Either live at the ground, on Sky as events unfolded or perhaps later on MOTD2. The tale of the tape being goals for Wissa, Rico and an o.g. to give Brentford the points. 

Everton ending the game with 9 men after straight reds for both Jarrad Branthwaite and Salomon Rondon. The master outsmarting the apprentice on the other bench as Thomas Frank played his substitution cards with all the insight of a man reading the game as a scholar would the Encyclopædia Britannica. Lampard, meanwhile, was stuck on Page 2 of Topsy and Tim Play Football with no clue which way to turn. 

Even the undoubted king of shithousery Richarlison, a man who makes Neal Maupay look like Mother Theresa, unable to salvage the game for the Toffees.

Required reading

The post-match debrief is up here with all the info on who did what. For now, we need to reflect on the bigger picture. On the fact that Brentford are not only closing in on the top ten but we played a ferocious atmosphere and shut it down. We survived the desperation of a 3.30am firework laden wake up call to deliver a few rockets of our own. Our supporters immense. Our players, equally so. Thomas shuffling his pack before the decision was taken out of his hands on an afternoon when you were never quite sure what colour card would come next.

Most of all though, it means that Sunday is going to be massive. Regardless of the midweek results when Burnley and Everton play their games in hand, that final relegation spot will be open. Leeds United still have matters outside their own control – my word, Thursday night at Villa Park is going to be some game  – and Brentford are the ones now in position to potentially send them back to the Championship.

Of course, we’ll be playing for league position. A win absolutely vital for Brentford if the dream of top ten in the Premier League is to become a reality. Anything else that may transpire off the back of that, nothing more than a consequence of our actions and our ambition. Not to mention our opponents’s season long bad form with only five clean sheets and their breaking the all time Premier League record for yellow cards in a campaign.

That said, the one thing you can bank on is that Bees’ fans would, universally, love that scenario to play out. Any Everton supporters worried about being overtaken should they somehow fail to pick up another point can rest assured that the Bees will be going for it.

Which sticks in the craw somewhat given the racial abuse dished out on social media and to the families of both Rico Henry and Ivan Toney by some of the home fans. It has all been reported to the Police but the fact this is still happening is utterly sickening. Utterly baffling. Let’s see what the club do in relation to this. It’s 2022 for crying out loud. Not the 70s. 

For that alone I’d love not doing them any sort of favour but, sadly, needs must and the bigger picture potential of the Bees recording our own victory is just too huge to contemplate.  With 7(seven) wins from the last 10 games and the only real negative being the off-key evening at Old Trafford, Brentford are on fire. Oh to make it an eighth on Sunday.

Rest assured, if Leeds United think that Brentford are going to be on their summer holidays nothing could be further from the truth.  I tell you this now. I’d love it if we can get the win. Absolutely love it. Leeds United went down in my estimation when they published that video, despite subsequently removing it. I’ve got a feeling that despite his diplomatic persona, Thomas Frank is thinking much the same.

Mind the gap…

Nick Bruzon

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

5 Apr

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

What an afternoon at Stamford Bridge

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

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

Nick Bruzon

And that silenced The Kop

17 Jan

Liverpool 3 Brentford 0. The Bees returned to Anfield for the first time since that 1989 FA Cup tie for the return Premier League fixture following our 3-3 draw at Lionel Road earlier this season. This time, however, there was no contest. The odd flurry of chances aside – Bryan Mbeumo channelling his inner Richard Cadette for the closest of these – it really felt like one-way traffic. Yet with Manchester United next up there were still plenty of positives to take ahead of Wednesday night’s home game. Primarily, the return of Rico Henry and the backs to the wall defending – a mile away from the Southampton horror show – that accompanied the opening 44 minutes. Liverpool dominating and pushing but unable to find a way through.

Bryan runs at the Liverpool defence

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages, albeit the player review is now up. For now, the headlines surround two levels of Bees’ defence. That opening phase where despite the hosts having 75% possession, there was no way through. Kris Ajer ploughing through Jota. Pontus heading it clear time and again. Most exciting of all, the return of Rico Henry. His substitution just into the second half confirmed by Thomas Frank as being nothing more than precautionary, with the left back apparently available for Manchester united during the week. Whilst he was on the pitch, there was no holding back the man who is on a fast track to challenge for our player of the season.

Yet when the goals came, they were awful. Awful. A corner that bypassed the entire defence for the opener. A cross that could have been claimed or cleared for the second. A totally needless attempt to play it out from the back that culminated in the inevitable disaster for the third. What Alvaro Fernandez was thinking not once but twice before Minamino wrapped it up I have no idea. A huge shame because he has kept us in it as much as anyone prior to that with a series of smart saves.

What can you say? Resolute defence and valiant effort count for nothing when the final scores are read. Moreso when the nature of the goals conceded was as frustrating as we all saw. Yet having contained our hosts for the vast majority of the opening period and only falling out of sight relatively late on, the contest always felt even. At least in terms of Brentford potentially hauling themselves back in to it. Had Bryan gone the other side of the post with the away support already cheering the equaliser, who knows what might have been? Instead, class eventually shone through and the game ended as comfortably as the scoreline and the statistics suggest.

Ah, yes. Class. Let’s not forget who we were up against. And where. A team second only to Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title. A transfer budget, spending power and sheer quality of playing staff. A stadium with three times the amount of supporters than is possible at Lionel Road.

At face value these were insurmountable odds but we gave it a damn good shot before administering the fatal blow ourselves. That’s not to be harsh. This was a huge learning curve and should Premier League football be on the agenda for next season (Liverpool do seem safe, to be fair) then this sort of experience will only stand us in good stead.   

The Brentford fans were magnificent, btw. What an atmosphere being generated at the away end. What a noise. Singing throughout and cranking it up as the game progressed. In contrast, The Kop less a 12th man as more a library. Certainly, by the sound of things. The fabled atmosphere very much muted for vast swathes of the game.

Keep it like that for Wednesday and who knows what could happen.

Special mention for the rail seating, btw. Everyone stands away from home, anyway, so nothing new there but great to see this legitimised. Hopefully more to follow in our own West Stand shortly off the back of a trial that is only going to get formal approval based on all the evidence seen so far.

The only thing probably worth being aware of as we progress our own drive towards this type of standing, being how anybody lacking in stature gets to see the game. Specifically the kids. Our Harry spent the opening period staring into the backs of the fans in front given, unlike a traditional terrace, there was no room to move. The obvious answer is to stand on the seat, which he did, much to the chagrin of two Brentford ‘fans’ behind him who then started taking photos and went crying to the stewards about it. This despite the eight year old’s head being lower than everyone else in the rest of our group. My word. Seriously? Hats off to the stewards, too, who after ten minutes of their nonsense told him to stand on the seat and get on with it. He wasn’t overly phased whilst all this was going on and, instead, spent the time asking why it was called The Kop rather than The Klopp.

Rail seating looks here to stay based on the evidence

On the other hand, it was so good seeing all the other friendly faces. Including Harry Potter, whom I still can’t get used to seeing in anything beyond his now absent Gunnersaurus coat (Burgundy is not the new green), and somebody who came ‘full Sherlock Holmes’. The good vibes culminating in a chorus of “We’ll race you back to London” as the Liverpool fans poured out before full time.

Overall, a result which was expected by many observers but despite pressure, pressure, pressure The Bees held strong for so long. Had Bryan’s second half chance gone in at 1-0 down well, it would have been dreamland for Brentford, wouldn’t it? It was inches wide of the post. And that…silenced the Kop.

RIP Tony Gubba.

See you all on Wednesday for Manchester United

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

Do this again and the next game will be brutal. The next game will be brackets.

27 Dec

Is there a way to dress that up? Can Brentford take any consolation in the no show at Brighton (sadly, we don’t mean the home fans). What next for the visit of Manchester City on Wednesday evening? With Pep Guardiola’s team bracketing Leeds United the other week and then falling one short of the magical 7(seven) against Leicester City themselves, that one has all the potential to be a turkey shoot if the Bees don’t find whatever was missing at the Amex. Starting a game without Vitaly Janely (covid) and Rico Henry (hamstring) was always going to be tough. Moreso, given the longer term injuries felt by David Raya and Kris Ajer. Yet, yet, yet surely we could have offered something, anything, more than a first half so laid back as to be practically horizontal. Beautifully taken first-half goals by Leandro Trossard and Neal Maupay (of course, although kudos to the man for his own reaction and post-match comments) were the least Brighton deserved but by the time Brentford got their arse into gear, it was too little too late.

Neal. Class, as ever

There are no words to really describe how frustrating this one was. Bryan Mbeumo limped off with little more than a half hour gone whilst Matthias Jensen was pulled off with the tea cups still being thrown around the dressing room at half-time. The makeshift defence having twice held open the door for Brighton to seize the initiative and put this one beyond reached after the initial threat that Brentford had been hinting at disappeared into the ether. By the time we rediscovered our mojo in the second half, the game had already been put to bed. Robert Sánchez in goal for the Seagulls preserving their dignity when Baptiste and Pinnock got the ball goalwards.

Having now caught up on the highlights, it feels even more deflating than seeing it at the time.

The legs, as much as the door, held open for the second goal

Perhaps we have been spoiled this season. Perhaps it is as much the fact that, at times, we’ve made the step up to the Premier League look easy. Perhaps games like this – whether outclassed or just not showing up – were always going to happen. Likewise, there is the dreaded Covid factor to factor in. An added element of pot luck to chuck into the mix of trying to prepare for big games with key names already absent. 

I’m certainly not in the doom and gloom camp – anything but. Prior to this we’d had two wins, two draws and a solitary defeat in our previous five league games. It could, probably, should have been three wins but for the 95th moment up at Leeds United. The only performance of real concern being that one at Spurs. This ranked alongside it. Alongside Burnley away. Signs as much has anything else that the Premier League is just so, so tough. Play slightly below your best and watch that gulf in class unfold into a gaping chasm.

We don’t generally do match reports on these pages. Not huge ones, anyway. Besides, we’ve all seen the game – whether at the Amex of c/o our friends at Sky. Thanks a bunch, again. Instead of regurgitating what we all know (albeit the player feature will be up later) , it is as much about where we go from here. Manchester City, Aston Villa and Liverpool (a) are next up in the league. Assuming, of course, Covid doesn’t do its thing in either camp. They’re going to be as tough a set if fixtures as they come. One could almost argue they are games with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Moreso given we know that Christian Norgaard will also be on the casualty list for the City game, given his (soft) yellow card now takes him to five and a mandatory one game ban. 

Certainly, there’s a chance for a midfield bereft of him and Vitaly to either crank it up a notch or be brutally exposed. Given the current popularity and wayward form of his Danish international team mate, one can guess which way supporter feeling will be leaning. 

The pace of Rico Henry was another crucial dimension to our game missing last night. Here’s hoping his stint on the sidelines is as short as possible albeit hamstring injuries don’t, as a rule, cure themselves overnight. On the plus side, Shandon Baptiste is really adjusting to this level well and looking more and more exciting with each game. Had Sanchez not been equal to his effort early in the second half we could well have been sitting here in a different frame of mind today. But we aren’t. That’s not how football works.

So close – Brentford ‘official’ capture the moment on their Twitter feed

Crying over being below par won’t help us recover. It certainly won’t help us against Manchester City on Wednesday. Just about the toughest job in football – stopping pep Guardiola – will only become ten times harder if we aren’t all fully on it.

So, yes, it was a terrible performance. No question. It shouldn’t take that long to get out of first gear – at any level. But it is the Premier league and the game is now over. We put it to bed, file it under b and move on.

Here’s to Wednesday. Here’s to some good news on the health front. Here’s to Manchester City. Here’s to emulating one of my all time favourite football moments. Perhaps…… See you there.

The quintessential Brentford FA Cup image

Nick Bruzon 

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

23 Dec

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

Brentford had no answer to Chelsea’s Tuchel bonus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The GPG may be on to something

Nick Bruzon

Apologies to Bush (Andy, not Shepherd’s) as hectic month awaits and social media delivers.

30 Nov

December is here. A non-stop charge into action with Brentford facing 7(seven) league games aswell as that league cup quarter final at Lionel Road. Victory against Everton on Sunday the perfect way to set ourselves up for the coming month. Next up are Spurs, Leeds United, Watford, Manchester United etc etc etc It’ll be nuts. It’ll be chaotic. It’ll be a whole lot of fun.

Everton already seems an after thought. A game of football that will live long in the record books as a 1-0 win for Brentford. That’ll do for me. Take the points, exorcise the memory and move on. Our opposition in about an awful a run of form as they come and for whom a lesson in injury related sportsmanship wouldn’t go amiss, either. Thoughts and prayers for Lucas Digne. Thoughts and prayers. What a shame the same didn’t happen and the ball kicked out when Rico Henry was actually crocked. 

Still, its all been and gone now. A win for the Bees is a win. Not to mention a clean sheet, another Ivan Toney penalty taking masterclass and a couple of (perhaps) unexpected entrants into the look at our top five performers. Were we wrong? Who missed out? Who should have been included? The journey to discover our season long contenders continues, too, and you can see that here.

Did Sergi’s hair make the top five?

As for this morning, I’m feeling a bit ‘Peter Gilham’. Specifically, the time he was obliged to promote the club’s latest foray into social media. Live on pitch he encouraged us to use, “Snapchat”. Then paused for a moment before adding, “Whatever that is.”

I was sent a video by a friend who was making his first visit to The Brentford Community Stadium. And no, it wasn’t Absolute radio DJ Andy Bush and Everton who, as it turned out, may not actually have been making his initial trip to our new home. In fact, it seems the frustration endured was limited to TV viewing, judging by the first hour of yesterday’s Hometime show.

As such, my apologies for the mix up which saw his file picture published in the announcements page. And when I say his, I mean ‘a’.

DJs with glasses – they all look so similar…

We’re fortunate enough to have many friendly and familiar faces around us where we sit in the North stand. Some we’ve been near for years and others who, Brentford being Brentford, we just know because everyone knows everyone.

Our H has picked up where he left off at Griffin Park and, sitting in relatively close proximity to the pitch,  still absorbs the moment of victory like no other. Perhaps barring one. So it certainly put a smile on our faces when ‘the moment’ was captured on a Tik Tok (whatever that i…) .

@brentfordfc

This. Is. Football. ❤️

♬ original sound – Tik Toker

And talking of Peter / social media, well it would be remiss not to revisit this one. We’ve all seen it but on a bitter cold Tuesday morning, may well put a smile on the face. Mr. Brentford delivering again. And again. Any excuse…..

As for Spurs, we go into our game at their new home on Thursday with several injury related questions in the air. Whilst Shandon Baptiste and Yoanne Wissa both made it onto the pitch from the bench against Everton, Christian Norgaard went off minutes after sitting down and clutching his back. Likewise Sergi Canos and Rico Henry. Fingers crossed both were precautionary. Having to reshuffle the pack once more, just as payers are returning, a headache Thomas Frank could well do without. Moreso given we head to Leeds United on Sunday. 

My £30 ticket is in hand for that one. £30. Thank you Leeds. So generous. Worth going for the pleasure of not having our pockets picked on the way in as happened so often in the Championship. And League One. Remember that? Oh, Ben Strevens….

Still, that’s to come. As are Watford, Man U et al . With forthcoming programme columns coming out of the ears, these pages may go a bit darker territory than normal. Perhaps not. Let’s just play it by ear. One things for sure, with a game every few days next month it’s going to be football, football, football. And I can’t wait. See you there.

Ben Strevens. At Leeds United. In League One

Nick Bruzon 

Bravery and aggression are the key as we look for Rico, Ivan and, err, Allan.

28 Nov

Brentford go into Sunday’s game at home to Everton with positive news on the injury front and the taste for goal after hitting three at Newcastle United last week (summarised here). The downside being our recent form has also seen defensive solidity thinner than the laughs in an episode of Mrs Browns Boys. With ten conceded in the last four games there’s only one way back from there. A battling point at St. James Park saw the focus very much being on the front foot and more will be the same when Rafa Benitez brings what is left of his injury ravaged squad to Lionel Road.

Thomas Frank used this week’s press conference to emphasise the importance, and intent, of taking the game to our opponents. The words brave and aggressive cropped up again and again with the mindset being that the best chance of beating Everton will be to outscore them. Obvious, perhaps, but why not throw caution to the wind and dictate the pace?

Thomas – come for the quotes, stay for the knitwear

Brentford are the home team and the desire to take the game to our visitors is, as Thomas noted, the piece of the puzzle that is in our hands. “It is very important that our approach is front-footed, aggressive, and brave. That is the bit I can control”, also nothing that “We need to consistently press high, be aggressive, and run in behind….we need to be able and have a mindset to take risks if you want to have a better chance of winning football matches.

You can read that in full on Brentford ‘official’. The other good news to come out of the press conference is on the fitness front. Wissa will be on the bench whilst Mads Bech is available once more, as is Mathias Jensen. For me, Clive, this is nothing but positive. Mads gives that extra option at the back and, of course, has those long throws that cause mayhem in the box. As for Wissa, well we’re all familiar with his heroics. It’s as close to a certainty as possible that we’ll see him put in an appearance at some point. With Shandon Baptiste also getting a late run at Newcastle, all of a sudden there are options. 

This is even better news given that if ever there was a chance to get back in the saddle then today is the day. Mind you, we said the same against Norwich City and look how that turned out. Groan. Everton’s confirmed absences include Richarlison and Mason Holgate (both suspended) whilst Yerry Mina, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Andre Gomes and Tom Davies also miss out. Indeed, there’s a stat on the BBC that highlights the importance of Calvert-Lewin, with the club winning just 21% of their games without him since the beginning of last season compared to 50% when he plays. Ultimately, stats don’t win games just as a single player does not make a team. Yet, at the same time, one can’t overlook the importance of a game-changer and, for Brentford, that absence can only be a boost.

The downside being the availability of Allan. Our H, just as with Lucas Biglia of Argentina during World Cup 2018, has become fascinated with a random player outside of our own. Whilst I’ve still no idea what drove the Biglia thing and nor does he in retrospect, it’s happened again.

Biglia. Why?

In the Premier League it is the Everton midfielder although at least this time we do know why. Much like our own Zanka, it’s the fact that he’s that rare breed of footballer known by a single name. Something that is very much associated with Brazil. And H is intrigued by it.

Pele, Alisson, Ronaldinho, Socrates, Zico….Allan (or some variant in the long list of exotic sounding South Americans) has become the refrain in the build up to this one. He’s certainly the one we have marked as a major road block to our potential success today. On a sidenote, my bookmaker (used purely for research purposes) has him at 14-1 to score at anytime today. I’m already terrified. Then again, for what its worth I’m calling this one 3-1 Brentford today so if anybody must score for the opposition then…

Allan – the main man for Everton and 14-1 to score at any time. Gulp…

The other stat of note in the build up to this concerns Lionel Road. Funnily enough, given the fortress that it has felt, less than a third of our points have come at home. This is the lowest ratio of any top-flight team and equally surprising given the way we played against Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. Then again, the way we played against Brighton and Norwich City (in particular) perhaps tells a tale. Big games + big noise = big performance. The visit of Everton certainly fits into the former category so let’s hope that the rest, combined with Thomas going for goal, follows suit.

Off field, pre-match covid status checks aside (joy), the excitement surrounds the return of the Panini Adrenalyn XL cards swap-shop under the Family Stand from 1pm. Try saying that three times in a row. Fair to say H (definitely H) has taken to the trading cards with some enthusiasm. Despite the downside being a haemorrhaging of the piggy bank, he’s almost completed the whole Brentford team. Just Rico Henry and Ivan Toney (elite) to go. If anyone has either of these and is doing swaps, he’ll be there with the spares and the other ‘needs’ list from 1.30pm.

Until then, see you there. It was bitter standing on the sidelines for 90 minutes at football club yesterday so for crying out loud, don’t freeze your bits off today. Wind chill factor alone sure to dampen the spirits. No harm in wearing the pre-match beer jacket either. It’ll help the volume and keep the cold out. Bring it on. And bring your swaps.

Can anyone help complete the set?

Nick Bruzon