Tag Archives: Spurs

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

23 Dec

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

Brentford had no answer to Chelsea’s Tuchel bonus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The GPG may be on to something

Nick Bruzon

Brentford – Chelsea about as intriguing as they come.

22 Dec

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

Hey, we can say it now. Wembley.

Norgaard unleashes hell

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

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

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

Urghhh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

The three key players this club would love to start. Will it be Jammy Julian or the spirit of Neal?

4 Dec

Brentford get ready for back to back away games with the trip to Leeds United on Sunday afternoon. The midweek shlepp from Seven (7) Sisters to Tottenham out of the way and put to bed. We’ve done that one elsewhere on the pages although there is still the player analysis piece which can be found here. From this point onwards, its all about Leeds United. About crossing paths with old friends on and  off the pitch once more. About the pleasure that they are obliged to charge us a mere £30 to enter Elland Road.Every penny not paid over that top flight ceiling a delight. Alan Jugde. Stuart Dallas. Pontus Jansson. Memories of the wonderful Neal Maupay back in the day still bringing a smile to the face.

Good times in days gone by. For Brentford and even at Brighton

We’ve all seen the Tottenham game now. Most people would, one presumes, expect some sort of reaction. Some kickback. Some changes. The midfield in particular an area where freshening this up a bit would likely be of benefit. Wissa, Shandon Baptiste, and Mathias Jensen all came off the bench for Brentford at Spurs. Thomas Frank used his press conference to confirm that although “They are players with a little bit more offensive skillset.. they are not in the best place because of injuries”.

That’s a shame. We all know what Wissa can do but Shandon and Mathias also impressed in there brief appearance. A more offensive approach at odds with the sideways passing that had dominated the first hour.

Perhaps the alternative is mixing it up a bit more. Ian Toney found himself isolated out on the right with the gap from him and Bryan to the rest of the group a yawning chasm that was crying out to be filled. Granted, the run of the ball didn’t help in a stop-start game where the referee’s whistle did as much as Tottenham’s pressing to disrupt the flow.

Credit to our opposition. It was a level of intensity I’ve not experienced all season in terms of our opponents closing us down, smothering us and not giving The Bees a moment on the ball. Will Leeds play to the same pattern or will a season that sees them sitting below Brentford in the Premier League mean we have a more equal calibre of opponent to play against?

Will we see a return to Leeds United falling apart? Again. Will Jammy Julian ( you know who you are, cousin in law) be left crying into his Fantasy Football points or is his main man Raphinha the key threat?  Everyone he picks, week in week out, seeming to play out of their skins. The Gibraltarian dominating our family mini league to a level that makes the rest of us start Monday morning looking upwards.

Son last time out ; now Raphinha is the threat

One can only hope the player fulfils the potential of the last Brazillian tipped by a family member on these pages. The trumpeting of Everton’s Allan by our H last Sunday ending in an almighty splat. A 1-0 win for the Bees one I’d happily repeat in a heartbeat at Elland Road. That wasn’t the most exciting game of football but it was certainly a satisfying conclusion. More of the same would do very nicely, thank you. The performance of Charlie Goode and Alvaro Fernandez in nets bringing particular cheer. Something which was repeated on Thursday. At least we can stick a few positives into that one.

In short, it’s going to be tough. It’ll be one heck of a trip and one raucous atmosphere. Away days are always the best, even if we have been shunted to late on in the weekend. Here’s hoping for a Sunday roast. Bring it on and see you there. 

Nick Bruzon

Was the boss really watching the same game as us? Did anyone impress?

4 Dec

Brentford head up to Leeds United on Sunday off the back of that 2-0 defeat at Tottenham. Spurs deserving of the win in a game where the Bees seemed very much on the back foot. Thomas Frank would use his press conference prior to that Leeds game to say, “I loved our approach; we were front-footed, we were aggressive, we were pressing forward and pressing high throughout the game. I love that we were brave and wanted to be on the ball.”

A first appearance since Covid tests for Jensen

Ok. That’s his view and respect for the opinion but we called it differently. Very differently. Did anyone display this high press at Tottenham? Who was brave? Who wanted to be on the ball more than Spurs and, as importantly, how? Well, the latest player analysis from that one is now online and can be found here.The good news being that there are positives to be found with some key players finding form and some new names troubling the charts to discover who will be the main men for Brentford over the course of 2021/21.

Enjoy. And see you at Leeds United.

Nick Bruzon

Oh. Sergi Canos. I do not want to know how you scored that goal.

3 Dec

A first trip for Brentford to the new Tottenham stadium and we are immediately greeted by a giant golden cock standing over an unnecessarily huge home end. If ever there was a metaphor for inadequacy and over compensating in the shadow of Arsenal then there it was. The visit to this part of North London one which coincided with Spurs coming out of a bleak run at just the wrong time for Brentford. Victory would have taken us 7th(seventh) in the Premier league. Instead, it was back to the drawing board and starting our prep for Sunday’s visit to Leeds United on the back of a 2-0 defeat.

For Brentford, a performance which was approached with the same level of caution reserved for selecting BBC1 on a Saturday evening without checking the guide first. The risk of stumbling across Mrs Browns Boys one which requires careful navigation. And so it was at Tottenham.

A triumvirate of holding midfielders and any attacking intent limited to Rico, Bryan and Sergi. The later two in particular not at their usual best. Tottenham a cut above and quickest to everything. Antonio Conte had his men hunting us down in packs every time we got close to it. Any attempt to play it forward snuffed out. Credit to Spurs. They were a level above throughout. Ivan barely getting a look in and doing more at the back than the front.

The goals came, first, via the head of Sergi. Not seen the replays as yet but it didn’t look good at the time. Spurs offered all the time they needed before the unfortunate wing back was in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up steering it past Fernandez. Perhaps time to focus on the football rather than the fashion. That hair… 

Yet Brentford managed to hold on to the most slender of deficits until half time and beyondA glimmer of hope offered by the arrival of Shandon Baptiste. Harry Kane, a player who has had more Premier League managers than Premier League goals this season, kept quiet throughout. Then the midfield and defence were cut open and man of the match  Son Heung-Min was there to make the finish look so, so easy. Kudos to that man. For all the talk has been of Kane heading towards Manchester, Son was a class above in a team that, on the night, were already a class above.

Losing I can take but it was the approach that was baffling. The ball spending the majority of the time being passed between our defence, looking for the perfect gap yet none could be found. Instead, lumping it forward would, at least, have mixed it up and given Bryan or Ivan something to run at. But no. Instead we approached it in the style of a non-league team with a plum FA Cup third round tie, there for the day out and hoping not to lose too heavily.

Which is a real shame because when we did push with the arrival of Baptiste, Wissa and Jensen it seemed as though Tottenham might crack. There were certainly a few wobbles and we even made steady progress into their box. Yet it was slim pickings and a solid defence snuffed out any threat as easily as the ‘channel down’ button being pressed upon discovering that everyone’s favourite Irish mammy had, indeed, replaced the scheduled programme.

Well done Spurs. Unlike Arsenal, who went down 3-2 at Manchester United, they were able to take advantage of opposition who (on paper at least) they were better than. Perhaps they are slowly emerging from the shadows although it will take a lot more than this to prove it.

For Brentford, it was frustrating. It was out of character. A rabbit in the headlights. All that matters now is putting it behind us and focussing on Leeds United. A team and ground we are much more familiar with. Elland Road. Alan Jugde. Stuart Dallas. Seen it and done it all before. From League One upwards. Here’s hoping for a happier ending come Sunday.

The player review is up now and can be found here. Then its upwards to Leeds United.

Nick Bruzon

Who starts? Who is fit? Can we do it?

2 Dec

Well that’s all got interesting this week. Everton followed their defeat at Brentford on Sunday with an absolute home humping to Liverpool last night. It ended 1-4 with the only question being asked as the game progressed was how it had taken the Reds so long (nine minutes) to open their account? All of which means that if Brentford win at Tottenham tonight and Manchester United fail to beat Arsenal then the Bees will move up to 7th (seventh) in the table. The European spots beckon. Just the small matter of winning at Spurs to contend with first. Hmmm.

Ok. So Everton was a win, there were some impressive performances from key individuals and the table doesn’t lie over the course of a season. Spirits will be high for this one although who makes it into the starting XI remains to be seen with several players appearing to go off injured on Sunday afternoon. Brentford head coach Thomas Frank was playing those cards close to his chest, with the only significant news being that Kris Ajer will likely be out for another 3-4 weeks whilst Zanka is being assessed weekly. Otherwise, Thomas told us that he has, ”The squad from last game, all the players will be available for this game. No extra players will be available.

Full time, Sunday

With an intense period of games coming up, is this the time to twist? Or will Thomas hold fire for Leeds United and Watford? I’ve no idea. For me, Clive, Rico was run into the ground last season, culminating in that lengthy absence. He won’t want to miss out tonight though, that’s for sure. If they’re fit then go strong.

Tottenham, it would be fair to say, have had a mixed season so far. Antonio Conte seemed to have steadied the ship and then there was the debacle of the European defeat at the hands of Latvian outfit NS Mura. Cripes, that was grim viewing for anyone in N17.

The games are thick and fast

We all know the challenge ahead. We’ll be loud, the Bees are outsiders (although at 17/4, odds have definitely been longer at various points in the season. Liverpool and Chelsea in particular where I think we were 9s, at home) and its a new stadium etc etc etc For Brentford fans, we’ve heard it all before so not much to add. All we can do is be out best. 

As much as anything, probably worth reading the travel guide on Brentford ‘official’ . Likewise, and especially for those coming in directly from work, the Tottenham bag policy. That’s a proverbial ball-ache nobody needs. Likewise, if anyone could clarify the difference between a laptop bag and a laptop sleeve, that would be appreciated. There’s no idea how draconian the stewards will be – Brentford levels or militant. Travel light and prepare for a walk seems to be the key, here.

There’s not much else to say at this juncture. Beyond please don’t forget its a 7.30pm kick off. All the fallout will come tomorrow. For now, enjoy the game and see you there. 

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 

Who shone on Sunday? Who is a gimme for Spurs game?

29 Nov

Brentford 1 Everton 0. Back to winning ways and the perfect means of warming up for the small matter of Thursday night’s trip to Spurs. Well, we’re doing things backwards today and are starting with the top five player review. Who was the star man? Who impressed? Who did the club miss from the official MOTM poll? Any shock inclusions / absences in our poll?

You can read that here. Enjoy. We’ll have the rest of the Brentford – Everton stuff tomorrow and start looking ahead to Spurs then.

If nothing else, we need to look at what happened to Sergi’s hair……

Nick Bruzon

We have out next two refs. What do you think of where we are at?

23 Nov

The dust has settled. The point is in the bag for Brentford. A 3-3 with Newcastle United seeing some reward coming our way and now the prospect of midweek fixtures to look forward to once more. Back to back TV games, too. First up Everton at Lionel Road on Sunday afternoon (Sky), followed by the trip to Spurs next Thursday evening (Amazon Prime). We’ve had the referees named for both fixtures already. Everton sees Darren England at the helm with the trip to Tottenham overseen by Jonathan Moss. 

First up, though, the last knockings from Newcastle United. Whilst we don’t normally do full fat match reports on these pages, this season is slightly different. In an attempt to provide some more in depth analysis, we’ve started tracking the form – shot and long term – of those players doing their thing for Brentford in the top flight. Who were the main men on the day? Who is leading the season long charge in terms of being ‘first name on the team sheet’? Consistent good form that makes them the players Thomas Frank just can’t do without?

You can find the answers to those, here. Or, at the least, yours truly’s take. No doubt there’s some glaring omission or schoolboy error of judgement. Or have we got it right? Over to you…

As for those forthcoming games, Thomas Frank had gone into the fixture with Newcastles suggesting Matthias Jensen, Yoanne Wissa and Shandon Baptiste could be involved. In the end, we started with two centre backs and the only one of the aforementioned names to put in an appearance being a last minute cameo from Shandon. I’ll take that and party. His introduction to Premier League football had been a stunning one, that red card wobble at Wolves aside. Moreso given the lengthy absence he had suffered previously. So to see him leave the field at West Ham with that dislocated shoulder was, to be polite, frustrating.

Yet despite the usual protracted absence that goes with injuries to key players (Kris Ajer and David Raya, we’re thinking of you), this one has felt relatively brief. A four league game spell that has coincided with that much noted glitch in results. But with the LLLL put to bed and Shandon back in the mix, spirits are that bit higher going into the Everton weekend. 

Now, if Wissa can also do his medical thing, that would be quite the tonic. His appearances from the bench have been quite wonderful. As has ‘that’ celebration. Oh for another ‘W’ this Sunday.

Another of these would be a thing of beauty

Mr England is the main man for that one. As is usual in these situations, the name is familiar but is it for good or bad reasons? Well, a look back through the Last word archives suggests we’ve generally got away with it.

His key contribution to Brentford folklore being a red card administered to Sam Morsy of Wigan Athletic for poleaxing Yoann Barbet with a head butt.

Darren England has the helm when Everton come to town

As for Everton. Well we can look more at them closer to the time. If Brentford have had medical issues then the same can be said for our next opposition. Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes all missed out on the 3-0 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday. Richarlison picked up a yellow card which means he misses the game at Lionel Road. All in all, a bad day at the office for Rafa who, like Thomas Frank, will be very much hoping for better news on the fitness front.

Then we have Spurs where its fair to say we’ve crossed paths with Jonathan Moss several times over the years. Aswell as an opportunity to insert the obligatory Culture Club joke, he’s probably best known in TW8 for not sending off Neal Maupay at Aston Villa after, err, doing that thing on Mile Jedinak. Move along, nothing to see here. Even if a post-match red was understandably shown. That game ending 2-2 with Dean Smith subsequently suggesting his opponent may have incited the ‘challenge’, to the point of deserving some further punishment himself.  The Head coach noting, “If you remember the incident, Mile Jedinak fell over, got up and then smashed Neal in the back of the head so, if they are looking at retrospective for Neal, then we’ll do so for Jedinak.

Plenty to look forward to in the coming weeks, that’s for sure. If nothing else, we’ve also got that marvellous opportunity of Leeds United being obliged to only charge us £30 to get into Elland Road. That alone being reason to brave the Sunday afternoon rail mayhem. For now though, time to catch our breath and reflect on where we are at present. That Newcastle United review is here. Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon

Still fighting on three fronts. Now bring on Saturday.

28 Oct

For the first time since 2016/17 Manchester City won’t have their name on the league cup.  For Brentford, a potato skin avoided and then some. The Bees are in the quarter finals for the second successive season after last night’s 2-1 victory at Stoke City. A line up including more first team regulars than we, perhaps, had any expectation of seeing run out raced into a 2-0 half-time lead (Canos and Toney) which ultimately proved sufficient to see us over the line. Romaine Sawyers (who else?) pulled one back for the hosts but it was too little too late to stop the Bees recording a first ever win in the Potteries and earning a place in the last 8. Liverpool, West Ham, Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester City and Sunderland make up the list of those teams with their own aspirations of lifting the silverware. Now we await the draw with bated breath. For more reasons than one. 

No caption needed

Last season was just awful. Wembley, promotion, goals, fine wins, bracketings and incredible signings aside. Having to watch from afar as the team rattled around a virtually empty stadium nothing short of torture. Finally in our new home and locked out by a global pandemic.

To compound the felony, Brentford were enjoying out best ever run in the League Cup. A whole gamut of Premier League sides despatched by a Championship club looking to join them in the top flight. A sequence of victories that took us all the way to a single-legged semi-final at Tottenham. Ivan Toney’s equaliser being chalked off by the machinations of VAR. A brief moment of 1-1 based ecstasy turning into an eventual 2-0 win for our hosts before their inevitable defeat in the final to Manchester City. They seem (seemed) quite good at lifting this particular trophy.

A tournament that Brentford have traditionally been bang average in (a smattering of fourth round visits being our best ever) had suddenly exploded into life. Thomas Frank with his eyes on the silverware. The rest of us with our eyes on the TV. It would have been wonderful to be a part of it. Instead, we were all locked out.

The finger nail ended up being ahead of the ankle. Offside

Fast forward 12 months and we are in similar territory. The big difference being that this time around, the fans are back. And how. What an effort for last night’s shlep to Stoke City. What a reward for the journey. Brentford now 90 minutes away from matching last season’s heroics. Perhaps with a chance to go even further. Hey, if nothing else the magnificent win in the play-off final has finally broken our Wembley hoodoo. No longer is it a place to fear but somewhere to look forward to. The next step on the journey about to be made. And we will discover our fate this Saturday when the draw is made on TV’s Soccer AM. 

Ah, Soccer AM. Sad to say it’s not for me anymore. Been there, done that, disgraced myself. Hey, those ‘end of the show’ penalties aren’t going to miss themselves. Helen Chamberlain and Russ Williams have long since moved on. Lovejoy, too. These days, free time on Saturdays is too short a commodity to be spent with Fenners and Jimmy Bullard. I’ve got football club to get H to and other ‘essential’ jobs to be completed before the matchday routine can begin. 

The classic lineup on the Soccer AM sofa

Yet this weekend things will be different. There’s a cup draw to be watched. The list of priority domestic tasks can, for once, include switching on the TV. Probably being confused by banter and catchphrases that will have long since been handed down to a younger generation. This confused 51 year old will, for once, have a legitimate reason to have the show on rather than feeling as awkward as a dad in a disco. Coverage starts at 10.30 although at what point the Soccerettes (are they still a thing?) appear with the balls is yet to be confirmed. I suspect the phrase “Harry, call me when its about to start” may well be uttered. Much as I used to love the show, and I did, age is now feeling as though it has very much caught up on yours truly. Groan.

So yeah. I’ll be watching. Hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Looking forward to seeing if things have changed any. Mostly, though, awaiting our fate. Last night’s team selection suggesting Thomas very much has the League Cup as a legitimate target. Not just an excuse to give fringe players a run out but a trophy to try and win. A place in Europe to be earned. A smile to be put on the faces of fans after missing out last year. An even bigger smile, I mean. A metaphorical heart attack to be given to the Directors of football or Matthew Benham when a potential cup winning team is named at the expense of keeping players fresh for the league campaign. Hey, who says we can’t battle on two fronts? Or three?

It was a strong, strong line up. Canos. Toney. Jensen. Zanka. Ghoddos. Forss. Ajer.  All started this one. Rico, Christian Norgaard and Frank the Tank also came off the bench. Every one of these players featured against Leicester City in the Premier League on Sunday  Chuck Charlie Goode, Mads x2 and Alvaro Fernandez to see there was no messing around from Thomas here. He has a cup in his sights. Likewise, perhaps, giving a chance to put his enforced goalkeeping change into play sooner than later. The understanding between the back five and the man in, err, blue will be even more essential than ever. 

For now though, we can dream of Wembley. Of Soccer AM. Of finally exorcising the nightmare of what happened before the Doncaster game. That Doncaster game. Of replacing Manchester City on the trophy. Of a draw that could be cruel or kind. A home tie with Sunderland or a trip to Liverpool? A rematch with Leicester City, perhaps?

On Saturday we find out. Bring it on….

The pre-Doncaster Soccer AM debacle (our H almost due, too)

Nick Bruzon