Tag Archives: table

That’s how your cat felt. Bees do it on and off the pitch.

11 Apr

Ian Moose – your boys took one hell of a… etc etc etc. Brentford have done it again. Hot off the heels of last weekend’s 4-1 demolition of Chelsea, another London derby victory has been earned. This time around our 2-0 defeat of West Ham at Lionel Road as comfortable as they come. The three points earned at the Olympic stadium in October repeated in front of our home support. With a late surge toward the top half of the table still on (as it stands the Bees sit just a solitary point behind tenth placed Crystal Palace ) the forthcoming trip to relegation threatened Watford is as big a fixture as we will have played all season.

Fun in the sun at Lionel Road

Brentford made it look as easy as the scoreline suggests on Sunday. The game always well under control with second half goals from Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo eventually dealing the inevitable blow. West Ham not even close to coming second. Brentford clinical as the pressure on our opponents grew.

By that point they had already been forced into a defensive reshuffle. Kurt Zouma limping off after less than half an hour following his second visit from the medical staff. “Call the RSPCA” quipped one terrace wag as chants of “That’s how your cat felt” rung around the majority of Lionel Road.

One has to wonder how much of blessing in disguise it was for Zouma. Finally running out of lives well before his ninth after after coping dog’s abuse (or should that be…) every time he touched the ball.

The programme cover that never was

The substitution made little difference. Brentford dominating the midfield and slowly turning the screw. Bryan should probably have put us ahead in the first half. He made no mistake just two minutes in to the second. Ivan Toney with a wonderful assist before doubling the lead. His header home this time being served up on a plate by Mbeumo after Rico had sent an inch perfect cross over the box to the back stick.

Not even Said Benrahma could make a difference when he came on for the final half-hour. A glimmer of his wonderful talent on show but the former Bees’ hero unable to make any impact on or through a resolute midfield. Eriksen wonderful. Norgaard equally so. Brentford now having won every game the former has started. The same win ratio applying to yours truly’s lucky green jacket.

The sartorial masterpiece, obviously, remains the real reason for another three points.

The stats don’t lie…

Those looking downwards hopefully feeling a touch less stressed now. Defeats for Watford at home to Leeds United and Burnley at Norwich City mean the bottom three are looking further adrift. Everton beating an absolutely woeful Manchester United on Saturday lunchtime casting further consternation to the clubs below that dotted line. 

For those with eyes on the upper echelons of the table there remains huge cause for optimism. April has already seen us taking 6 points from 6 in London derbies. The month is completed by Watford away and then a visit from another Champions League chasing club, Tottenham. At this rate, anything is possible.

It’s not so much the margin of victory as the style of play now being shown by Brentford. Back to our free styling Championship best, despite playing clubs with genuine aspirations of making Europe’s top table. Thomas Frank not afraid to mix things up again with a return to the back four set up and Mads Roerslev missing out alongside the unwell Pontus Jansson. Perhaps harsh on the young Dane after doing so well against Chelsea but at the end of the day, Clive, we’ll all point to the win as being all that counts.

Next up, Watford. There’s no midweek fixture and so a chance to take stock. To rest any tired limbs. To wonder just what the heck Matthew Benham needs to do to persuade Christian Eriksen to stay on for another season. The crowd love him. The team feed off everything he does. The smile is ever present on his face. Could fate be smiling on us? Just offer him a green jacket, Matthew…

Until then there’s not much else to do beyond reflect on all we have achieved so far. There are only 7(seven) Premier League games to go and Brentford have defied just about every critic’s pre-season prediction. The MOTD2 team would talk about West Ham having a thin squad whilst battling on two fronts. David Moyes would take about circumstances. 

Poppycock. Brentford weren’t whinging when our paper thin set up was decimated by injury or covid. So let’s get some kudos where it is due. For yours truly, the glass remains as full as ever. The wheels may already be coming off the super-computer’s predictions about the bottom three (although if Leeds Untied could fall apart, again, that would be amazing) but as everything else outside of Lionel Road is only a distraction, let’s not hold too much to that for now.

The player review is now up and can be found here as published.

For now here’s to a happy Monday and then we can start prep for Watford. I’m already full of anticipation for that one. See you there.

The gap at the bottom is growing

Nick Bruzon

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

Arsenal get cocky. Brentford go home empty handed. Next up, Newcastle…

20 Feb

Arsenal 2 Brentford 1. Defeat for the Bees but one which came with both good and bad. A game played out in a cracking atmosphere with the Bees fans getting stuck in and, unexpectedly, the home support actually making noise. Unexpectedly given their own reputation, our previous visit and the ‘noise’ (or lack of) already experienced this season in the games at Liverpool and Spurs. Big ground does not equal big volume, that’s for sure. Yet despite more empty seats than a studio recording of Mrs Brow… sorry, My Family, it stayed lively throughout. Even turning hilariously tetchy towards the end with one fan getting played like second hand fiddle. What is it about green jackets? Yet none of this bonhomie changes a nil return for Brentford. The forthcoming trio of games : Newcastle United (h), Norwich City (a), Burnley (h), now looking like they will play a key role in helping decide which of those clubs may go down aswell as giving a wonderful opportunity to strengthen our position in the table and calm any jangling nerves.

The Bees come close on a rare sortie into the Arsenal box

Post-match commentary was interesting:

Nice kick about with the boys. The apparently prolific Lacazette proving himself anything but in either goal scoring (nil return) or humility..

fun session today – Emile Smith-Rowe who, up against the defensive prowess of Sergi Canos – we’ll get there in a moment – at least managed to score.

Footballers being footballers, eh? Or arrogant dicks? Take your pick. 

For me, Clive, don’t give it if you can’t take it and the key observation was not from a player but one overheard from an irate Arsenal fan in the queue or the Piccadilly line home:  

We’re getting excited because we’ve scraped past the shittest team in the league 2-1. 

Arsenal twitter – a real work of art

Let’s not make any pretence here, Arsenal deserved to win. They actually played football. Brentford guilty of showing too much respect and, whilst colossal at the back, no real drive forward.  Hardly the shittest team but one that were bereft of attacking desire. Looking to contain rather than go for the jugular. For all that Arsenal were dominant, you could see them wobbling when we eventually stepped up. Christian Norgaard’s goal, sadly too late. 

Instead, we’d already had to endure the usual gamut of sideways and backwards passing in the seeming desire to carve out a perfect opening. Mathias Jensen, mercifully subbed off after an injury. Sergio Canos, not his fault that he is being asked to play out of position, but looked out of his depth trying to defend against this calibre of opposition. Ivan Toney again absent following his ‘minor calf injury’.

That’s all three Premier League games missed since the fuckgate tape emerged. Is the injury report correct or could the player be suffering form a case of video nasty? One thing’s for sure, we need him up top. On the rare instance the ball got into the Arsenal box, we could have killed for his attacking presence. His dead eye cool in front of goal.

All being well this is nothing more than Thomas Frank being ultra cautious going into a game which, at least prior to kick off, the home side would have been red hot favourites to win. To play percentages and hold his star man back for the forthcoming 9 points we’ll be competing for. For Ivan to be fighting fit when he gets the chance to show Newcastle United what might have been.

Certainly, the vibe at the moment feels as though we’re trying to close games out and banking on that early season run being sufficient to carry us over the line. To pick up wins in targeted games against ‘teams like….’ with anything else in between being a bonus. Phil Giles appears to be flavour of the month amongst the usual suspects on twitter, bemoaning his ‘tactics’ of not strengthening in the transfer window. 

And I can see why that view point may be taken but I’d refer back to a paragraph written last week. Which I’ll republish here, just because :

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

I guess the issue is that when the gaps are exposed, they look brutal. Mathias Jensen has been playing really well in recent weeks but yesterday was not it. Anything but. Sergio Canos the same. Again, let’s be clear that this isn’t his position. Marcus Forss scoring at Loftus Road for Hull City a question that does make the decision to loan him out, with Ivan now awol, seem an even more perplexing one.

All of which leads back to the simple fact that this is us now playing those percentages. Looking to stay calm and pick off the wins in the games played outside of those top six clubs. Of having those opening twenty minute bursts at home as we did against the two Manchester clubs. Of locking it up at the back as we did for so long at Manchester City, Liverpool and then yesterday until the dam eventually broke. Of not buying recognised right wing back cover given we may also need to spend on the other flank. Rico Henry’s contract won’t sign itself and until that situation is resolved I can imagine trying to rebalance the squad is something that remains in a holding pattern.

Yesterday was too cautious, though. Arsenal were rattled when we pushed. Had we done it sooner then who knows? But we didn’t. You can’t deny the league position and the spending power of our hosts. Cripes, if I had their resources a I’d be sharing the views of the aforementioned fan. Not just about Brentford but Burnley, Wolves and those other teams they’ve struggled against in recent week. Maybe its the optimist in me but I really thought that yesterday we’d do more. Could have and would have. Instead, nil points was the return.

Let’s not forget, also, that we’re 14th, everyone. Not 18th. Not 19th. Not 20th. That games in hand actually need to be won. That form then needs to be maintained. Just saying. Don’t shoot the messenger. That table doesn’t lie.

We’ll share the Brentford player and performance review shortly. Here and on its own page. For now, its more a case of at least knowing our players stayed classy. Our next game is at home. That Josh Dasilva is starting games again. That Christian Eriksen will surely make it off the bench against Newcastle United.

That moment is going to be immense and I can’t wait. See you there….

Come on H. Arsenal weren’t that boring. A long day takes it’s toll

Nick Bruzon

Caution. Positivity may offend.

13 Feb

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

The moment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The table doesn’t lie

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon    

West Ham undone by El Scorcho from Wissa.

4 Oct

Just magnificent. An epic finish of biblical proportions. Brentford head into international break with another win under the belt. Just when you thought it wasn’t possible to even come close to Liverpool last week, we went and did this. The latest moment of joy, a 2-1 defeat of West Ham at the Olympic Stadium that was as deserved as it was late. Surviving wave after wave of second half pressure, it was that man Wissa who popped up to fire home the winner in front of the Bees faithful with virtually the last kick of the game. The visiting fans went absolutely nuts. The home support in meltdown. Oh for a Rio Ferdninad or John Colby to have got in the way for them. Instead it was another three points earned, up to 7th (seventh) and now two weeks before we welcome Chelsea to Lionel Road.

Yesssss. Wiiiiissssaaaaaaaa!!!!

What a win. What a start. With Ajer missing and Janelt replaced during the warm up, Thomas Frank saw his plans further hampered by a shoulder injury to Shandon Baptiste. Yet this season is as much about strength in depth and the Bees played like a side posessed. Solid at the back but starting on the front front. Mbeumo hitting the top of the bar with minutes before scoring not long after. A fine break from Canos saw his shot only parried and there was Bryan to steer it over the line. ‘Keeper Fabianski shovelling it clear but the goal had already been chalked up, with VAR going through a momentary act of agreement.  

Twenty minutes gone and a goal up. An effort that was reflective of our dominance. A game that was threatening to be much akin to our solitary defeat, that by Brighton, where we had all pressure and no end product. This was different. Roared on by a packed and passionate away contingent, the Bees had gone for it from the off. Pushing men forward and breaking with pace. Rock solid at the back. It might have been double. The home side might have had some cheer but a header from Zouma was about as good as it got. 1-0 Brentford at half time and, despite the enforced substitutions, looking great value for the lead.

VAR confirms what the ref had already seen

And then the second half started. David Moyes can only have delivered the mother of all rollickings whilst the orange segments were being served up because his team re-emerged with with purpose by the bucketload. The manager losing his shit on the touchlines (more than once – here’s the ball…) and his team actually breaking with intent. Yet, somehow, the Bees held firm. Blocks, deflecting, fine saves. It was heart in mouth time as West Ham pushed and probed. 100 yards from the action the supporters giving it their all. Willing the Bees on to hold firm and we almost did. Almost. The clock running down with snail paced movement until, with 80 minutes gone, there was Bowen to fire home the equaliser through a crowd of defenders and inside the near post. It looked side netting from where we stood, binoculars primed by those in the upper tier, but alas it was in. Urghh. Look at what we could have won.

West Ham fans exploding with delight. Bubble machines making a half-arsed attempt to parp out their wares in cringe inducing celebration. Who needs gimics? Whatever. 1-1 and the Hammers continuing to push. Brentford, somehow, hanging in there. Three minutes of time added on and then, deep into this additional period a free kick awarded. Into the box we went. All of us barring goalkeeper Raya. Pontus with the sweetest of connections but once again Fabianski was there to get it clear. Not clear enough. It fell to the edge of the box where the unmarked Wissa kept his cool and despite a man bearing down on him, slammed a scorcher straight back from where it came with interest. Boom. Fabianksi no chance. The net billowing. Limbs. Scenes. Celebrations. Call it what you want, the first team piling on to each other. Even Raya running up to join in. The supporters united in ecstasy. Not knowing whether to celebrate with the team or the home fans stood just to our left who had been giving it large all game. Pantomime villains for 90 minutes and resorting the the role of petulant schoolboys.

Oh football. This is why we love it so much. There was barely time for the restart before the ref called it game over. An incredible ending to a wonderful game. Wissa immense. The balls on that man to connect so well but really it was more than him. It was all round effort. Another top, top team performance. If Liverpool had been amazing, this was up there for different reasons. There’s nothing finer than a last gasp winner and it was one that came in what was an archetypal game of two halves. It’s West Ham, innit? You almost had to feel for the home support. Almost.    

Brentford now three points off second placed Liverpool and a further off the top of the table. Our opening salvo of 12 from 7(seven) games perhaps beyond even the wildest dreams. Nobody gave us a prayer yet here we are again. West Ham the latest to be hit by the runaway bus. A huge arena silenced. The list of achievements that bedecked the middle tier to our left – 1964 FA Cup Winners… 1965 European Cup Winner’s Cup… 1966 World Cup winners – nothing but a reel of the past. A team with an impressive list of former glories but unable to match the moment when it came. Wissa rounding off an afternoon that will live long in the memory.   

West Ham. Winners ( in one respect)

Now , time to catch the breath. A few weeks off. Hopefully the injuries won’t be a severe as first feared although Baptiste’s shoulder, since confirmed as dislocated, isn’t the sort of thing you can just run off in five minutes. One can only imagine it’s going to be a prolonged period of time spent with our old friend, the anti-gravity treadmill.

Until then, time to reflect on about as exciting start to Premier League life as it is possible to have hoped for. It’s been nothing but fun and yesterday, following on from Liverpool the game before, had it all. Top flight football. Opponents steeped in history. Rival fans giving it their all. The bus stop in Hounslow doing it for fun. West Ham pointless. Brentford leapfrogging them in the table and another win under the belt.

Fair to say that top flight life is good. Long may it continue like this. Brentford proving that reputations count for nothing. Ours included. We ARE tinpot. We ARE a bus stop. We ARE put together through shrewd acquisition and team spirit rather than big money buys. And? We know it. We don’t, actually, care. The sooner other teams get used to it and play the 11 in front of them rather than the preconception then the easier they may find it. Until then, keep writing us off all day long.

That was a lot of fun. A lot..

Nick Bruzon

One Flying Ant does not make Flying Ant Day. Can we deliver another kick up the Arsenal?

21 Aug

Arsenal despatched. Victory for Brentford over the hapless Gunners was only last week yet already it seems a lifetime ago. Eight days later and now we have the chance to do it all again. This time, a much stiffer challenge in the road trip to Crystal Palace. A short hop to Selhurst Park and the question of whether the Bees can recapture that spot at the top of the Premier League which was held for a tantalisingly brief period at the start of the weekend. Hey, the table doesn’t lie and it was enough to see Thomas Frank secure the League Managers Association award for performance of the week. Yet with Liverpool hosting Burnley at 12.30pm, we could find ourselves going in to this one 3 points off the top (a situation which would also see number 26 and his team rooted to the foot of the table).

Award winning

Look. We’ve done the Arsenal game to death. They were about as uncohesive a unit as one could ever see. An impotent shadow of their former selves. A team in big trouble with Chelsea and Manchester City up next. That’s their problem though. You can only beat who is in front of you and Brentford were magnificent. Calm. Confident. Dangerous. Clinicial.

Sergi’s goal a stunner. Oh, the smile that lit up Lionel Road as that one was celebrated. Absolutely priceless. How much egg on how many faces? Christian Norgaard doubling the lead as an Arsenal defence which would have struggled to mop up the floor, let alone a ball into the box, stepped aside to let him through. It could have been more. Frankly, who cares. The win was all that matters.

Yet as the old saying goes, one flying ant does not make flying ant day.  Brentford? Check. Slough? Check. Boston Manor? Check. At least three seperate sightings before you can be happy we’ve reached the most celebrated day in the Heaxapodal calendar. Before we can get too carried away. Everything from last week has now been and gone. Fun though it was.

Instead, we have the memories and confidence to push us on against Crystal Palace in the search for that second win. In the battle to oust Liverpool from the place at the top of the Premier League which they will presumably be occupying when we begin our own game.  

Oh, and that award for Thomas. I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure if somebody was trolling Leeds United by presenting him with a mini-whiteboard but a trawl back through the archives shows this is their standard. Fair enough. Let’s just hope that there isn’t a ‘Curse of the LMA performance of the week award’.

Thomas Frank’s whiteboard was the gift that kept on giving.

Thankfully, there are no new injuries and the squad remains as it is, albeit with the possibility that Tariqe Fosu may return. Prepare for incoming floods from certain quarters. The BBC report that Palace will again be without captain Luka Milivojevic but, regardless, one can only assume they will be chomping at the bit to make up for lost time. The thankless task of a trip to Stamford Bridge to open proceedings hardly an ideal one for new manager Patrick Vieira. Chelsea considered real contenders for the title by many respected pundits. And also Ian Moose. Now they will be back amidst what is sure to be a raucous atmosphere at Selhurst Park. 

Whilst the result is, as ever, impossible to predict we can at least rest easy in the fact that the Bees faithful will do what Arsenal failed at so miserably. Namely, making some/any noise. The home support sure to be given a run for their money by the 2000 or so from West London.

I can’t wait to get back on the road. I’ve not seen Brentford away since Luton Town in the sleet back in February 2020. About as soul destroying a defeat as could be imagined and one which ended with the ultimate indignity of Jan Zamburek’s shirt being stolen from the dressing room and ending up on ebay. Apparently. Just a few weeks later, Lockdown restrictions started to kick in and we’ve not travelled since. At least, until Wembley. Remind me what happened…..

Roll on 3pm. See you there.

Last Friday was immense. Now, time to move on…

Nick Bruzon

I want a squirrel and I want one now!!

18 Apr

Congratulations Norwich City. It is the only place to start a look at our own Championship fortunes this morning after their return to the Premier League was confirmed yesterday. Despite a home defeat, every favour possible was cashed in after Brentford were held 0-0 by Millwall, Watford lost at Luton and Swansea City left it late to salvage a draw with Wycombe. Not that these favours would have been needed in the longer term. The Canaries have been outstanding this season in terms of both ability and consistency. It has been apparent for months that ‘automatic’ would be theirs if they held the nerve. Instead, there has barely been a ruffled feather on that front. The goals and wins have kept on coming. The reward fully deserved.   

For Brentford, still all to play for but getting tougher every game. A frustrating afternoon no doubt and moreso given it followed that stonking 5-0 win at Preston last weekend. The same side selected yet, this time, the opposition infinitely harder to break down. Chances at a premium with the only one I can remember that from Marcus Forss early on in the second half. He did tremendously well to wriggle past two defenders on his way into the box before firing his shot the wrong side of the near post when squaring it would have been the easier option. In hindsight. One can’t blame him for seeing the goal open up after working the chance and our fortunes should have hung on more than this solitary opportunity. Instead, Millwall did what Millwall do. Indeed, they had their own chances to take an early lead before the game meandered to another stalemate.

The optimist in me could say it is now 7(seven) unbeaten. And it is. Another game where the pre kick-off presence of one-time albatross Clem in his Football Focus interview barely caused a murmur of consternation given his current form. His historical ‘jinx’ factor currently set to ‘positive’ and so, if anything, was a good sign going in to this one. On a side note, the interview with Thomas is well worth watching. Clem, his usual blend of gentle probing and charm personified. Thomas giving a much needed reality check on last season aswell as the challenge ahead for the remainder of this.

Clem and Thomas do their thing

It was a game that saw another point gained but, really, if there is any aspiration of automatic we need to be turning those into wins rather than becoming divisional draw specialists. Brentford are now fourth. One point behind Swansea City and eight behind Watford with a game in hand a visit form the Hornets still to come. Bournemouth on fire and tucked in behind us on level points. Their own victory at Carrow Road yesterday making it six in a row for the Cherries. Their own fine start to the campaign coming off the rails before bouncing back in some style. If anything, they are the danger team making that late surge although perhaps second place a touch too far out of the way.

For Brentford, all we can do is focus on winning then hope something happens in our favour. Tuesday night is the big one. No question. The evening of ‘must win’ games. A visit from Cardiff City as tough as any we could face. Oh, for a repeat of the Sergi Canos hat-trick against the Bluebirds back at Christmas. Of course, football doesn’t work like that and it is the first of our five remaining fixtures. Five high stakes games which could see this team become legends. From this point in the stress levels are only going to build. For everyone. How Thomas Frank manages that is going to be key to our fortunes. How he gets his team performing consistently a conundrum only he, and his staff, can unravel.

The same XI were world cup winners against Preston. Chance after chance created, and taken. Fast forward a week and it would have been easier to unlock a front door wearing oven gloves and a deep sea diver’s helmet than it was the Millwall defence. The doom and gloom in the air at full time totally disproportionate to a team that are still sitting fourth in the Championship. I’ve largely been off social media these last two weeks. Not even having the heart to update these pages. I love talking about the Bees but seeing all the negativity is just doing my head in. I’m  done with what, at times, feels little more than arrogant entitlement from a group of Veruca Salts throwing their worthless opinions around like spoiled brats hurling toys out of a pram. 

I. DEMAND. AUTOMATIC. NOWWWWW.

I’ve no real issue anyone putting the boot in if they can back it coherently. Make a case for what they feel is going wrong and, more importantly, what they might realistically change. Instead, its nothing but bullying of individuals and the same tired, lemming like phrases:

Bottle jobs.

Frank Out.

Canos / Marcondes / Jensen (delete or add as applicable) is sh*t.

Should have bought over January (I’d love to know who and how). 

Then there’s Tariqe Fosu being feted as the saviour of the team. He IS good, very good, no question. Yet one player does not win games on his own. One player is not the be all and end all of our chances. The responses to yesterday’s final result being announced on Twitter saw so many of the the usual suspects doing the usual thing. Forgetting, also, that a campaign lasts 46 games rather than something determined by the latest round of results.

Look at who is injured. Look at how we do things. Look at the pressure on everyone. On every club – something seen in yesterday’s results. Instead of whine, whine, whine how about actually backing your team? Save the post mortem for later, if it is really needed.

I’m pretty much done with Twitter and Facebook for the moment. Yesterday illustrated that just perfectly – shouldn’t have looked at the full time update but a few beers in the sunshine helped pique my curiosity later in the day. The return to The Griffin, seeing old friends and discussing football in person just wonderful. Another positive to be taken from the day. Sadly, the same can’t be said about social media. I want to enjoy my football, no matter how hard it is at times. How tense. How excruciating. Not have it dragged down by bitching. So I’m done. Let them shout into the void. I’ll go on there if it suits me and that’s it.

The replies to this. Only Wilf talking sense

We are on the threshold of greatness. Whilst only a moron would fail to recognise things are ten times harder for us than they might have been, getting out of the Championship is one of the toughest things possible. Twenty four teams fighting for three spots. The calibre of opposition and budgets of those who have parachuted down from the Prem illustrate it in some style. That’s before you get to those well established clubs. The pressure on everyone is immense. We saw that with the sequence of results that came in this weekend. It was a lost opportunity for Brentford but, then again, also for Watford and Swansea. Perhaps even Norwich City who would have been confirmed champions.

Instead, it is all eyes forward to Tuesday and that other must win game, for Norwich at home to Watford. To be fair, even a point hands them a title that is now only out of their grasp by virtue of mathematics and goal difference. I’d love them to do it if only for what it then means for Brentford, of course. As Thomas Frank said in his interview with Clem (and if you haven’t seen that as yet then you can, no should, take a look. There’s a link here) I think it is for Watford to lose but of course we need to do our bit.” 

Of course. The absolute priority has to be us getting our act together first, rediscovering our cutting edge and then seeing what else happens. Starting with Cardiff City on Tuesday at 6pm.

Nick Bruzon

This is one we really must win.

6 Apr

Eight games to go. Brentford host Birmingham City on Tuesday evening following the draw with Huddersfield at the weekend. A game we go into with the knowledge that, finally, the results around us have been favourable. Yesterday saw Watford held at Middlesbrough after leading for a large chunk of that one and Swansea City losing their fourth on the bounce. The Bees in third place. Ten points behind the Hornets but with two games in hand. The first of which takes place at 7.00pm this evening. A game where victory has to be at the top of our priorities if there is to be any hope of overhauling the team(s) in ‘automatic’. If not a mathematical ‘must win’ then psychologically, very much the time to return to winning ways. Over reliance on favours not a strong card for any head coach to play too often. All good in theory. The problem being Lee Bowyer and his Blues are very much in a battle of their own at the wrong end of the table and aren’t just going to hand over the points.

All to play for still – not just for the top two

The plus point being the Bees are unbeaten since the 1-0 at Norwich City a month ago. All well and good but let’s not pretend the last three games have been anything but frustrating. Starting off at 100mph against Wayne Rooney’s Derby County but falling over the line to a 2-2 draw. See also: Nottingham Forest where chances aplenty were created but only one converted. The inevitable happened. Then Saturday saw us peg it back against Huddersfield Town for another draw. True, the point saw us clear Swansea City but Watford are the ones that, at present, we all have to catch up with. Indeed, the nature of the opening goal at the weekend a horror show to match anything Mrs. Browns Boys have inflicted on us over the years. 

The net result of all this meaning that, really, only victory will be good enough this evening. Certainly if we have genuine aspirations to recapture that place in the top two we held for a tantalising moment. True, Watford have a tough run but they also have more than enough ability to win them. To beat opponents before they have even walked out of the tunnel. For Brentford, the free-scoring fun seems to have gone awol. The team predictable and , perhaps, weighed down by both expectation and the pressure of last season. If ever there was a time to put the shooting boots back on and bolster the defence it is now. To pray Rico Henry and Josh Dasilva are back soon. The lack of any talk about either player suggests that won’t be anytime in the next five minutes. Perhaps, though, Thomas is playing his cards close to his chest.

Regardless, we still should have enough in this team to win tonight. Ivan Toney knows thew way to goal. Norgaard is back. Fosu and Marcondes must be chomping at the bit to begin this one from the off. Can Thomas inspire his troops? Make the pieces of this most enigmatic jigsaw fit together?

I don’t buy into any of this “We should have strengthened the squad in January” nonsense, btw. How do you predict injuries? How do you pay for it? How do you keep the squad happy? Which players would you have actually brought in? Moreso, at a time when we were on fire and storming it? Genuine question. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but let’s not forget, either, we’re more than holding our own against teams that have parachuted down from the Premier League and been able to maintain their structure. Likewise, that a season lasts for 46 games. Swansea City currently proving that no team can win every game. Hitting a wobble that’s actually worse than the one we did in that unholy trinity of games that reached a brutal denouement at St. Andrews against Coventry City.

Here’s the thing. Laugh and sneer all you want. This isn’t misguided optimism but genuine belief. I’ve been saying it all season and I still stand by the fact of my own personal feeling being Brentford will go up. Even now when, at face value, the table is less than favourable to us with Norwich and Watford in the box seats.  That doesn’t mean we can just continue to try and dial in performances. Saturday was a prime example of what happens when you do that. Yet with our rivals having a tough streak coming up and our own ability to turn it on should we get the on-pitch part right, this is still all to play for. It really needs to start tonight though. Two games in hand are more than handy but they need to be turned in to points. Both are at home to teams playing for their lives (see also: Rotherham in game 45).

This won’t be easy, of course. Birmingham City have got quality in that squad. I’ve seen teams finish fifth in this league and miss out on promotion by play offs. Their squad is ten times better than that. Its just about getting the balance right……

This could be huge. This might even be fun. It should be. What’s the point, otherwise? Kick off is at 7.00pm whilst before that you’ve got a ‘live’ edition of ‘The Warm Up’ . Stuart Wakeford, Marcus Gayle, Karleigh Osborne and special guest Natalie Sawyer will be hosting the show from Lionel Road at 6pm. You can catch that on YouTube with full details on ‘official’, here.. 

Until then, have a great day. See you there (metaphorically speaking). It’ll be another one on the sofa for us. All being well with a lot of cheering……

Nick Bruzon

Shoulda Woulda Coulda. Mixed bag of results leaves it tense at the top.

21 Mar

Two points dropped or another gained in a performance that was streets ahead of that second half no show on Tuesday? Brentford held 1-1 by Nottingham Forest in a game that arguably we could have won , given the chances created, or making further ground on Swansea City who lost at home to Cardiff City? The gap between us a solitary point. The huge fly in our ointment being a Watford team who won, again, and are now looking to make their own insurmountable assault on second place. A position they currently occupy with a 7(seven) point advantage over the Bees, albeit having played an extra game. With so many Brentford fans fixated on the potential 8 point lead available to the Swans after the dog’s dinner we served up at Coventry (how are those maths working out?), how many stopped to focus on The Hornets as the main danger threat to our automatic aspirations? They’ve been chipping away with win after win after win and now, all of a sudden, have found quite the clear air between second and third place as their rivals’ current milieu has been one more favouring draws and defeats.

The final score – as seen on Brentford official.

Our own game started so brightly. Ivan Toney scoring yet another from the penalty spot. It was as stonewall as they come in the decision making stakes. As ice cool as ever in the execution. Another one rolled into the bottom corner, taking the Championship’s leading scorer up to 28 from 37 games. Twelve minutes gone and Brentford ahead. Nottingham Forest on the ropes and doing well to stay alive. Mbeumo could have done better. Dalsgaard had a a glorious chance. The pressure building and the approach play suggesting more was to come.

Our visitors limited to a half-arsed penalty shout of their own that had both sets of players laughing and earned Alex Mighten nothing more than a yellow card for his trouble. The Tricky Tree less felled in the box and more needing to smooth over the rough edges on his Tom Daley tribute act.

Perfect 10s for effort, if not executionthe GPG at the right place on the screen grabs for this ‘penalty’ analysis

But let’s not get cocky here. Dominant though Brentford were, it had the feel of a game that needed more than one goal got make it safe. Half time came and went with the thought that taking one of those additional chances in the opening period might have eased stress levels in the environs of TW8. Calmed some strained nerves as the inevitable happened just after the hour. Mathias Jensen losing out to Bong after the Forest player manhandled his way through and past our man before releasing the ball forward. Brentford still had enough back to cover but Winston Reid could only guide his clearance straight to Filip Krovinovic close in. Ping. The ball was returned with interest straight back in the direction from which it came, straight past the defender and straight past David Raya in nets. 1-1. Well done. That play had been allowed to continue after the assault on Jensen a cause of huge frustration (and that’s the polite term) but, frankly, we still should have had the nous to cut that one out. Instead, the visitors handed out the consummate lesson in taking your chance when it comes.

This was not a park the bus exercise either. Progress was hard, as much through our own decision making, but there were still chances to seal it. Substitutes Ghoddos and Fosu who, personally speaking, should have come on much earlier, both coming close. Mbeumo had already had a glorious chance, foiled only by time quite wonderful defending. It had seemed an odd on goal after the square ball across the face from Ivan but, instead, a last gasp challenge saw a corner the best we could salvage. And then with almost the last kick of the game Toney saw his own deflection assisted shot go just the wrong side of the post. So near yet so far. 1-1 it finished. Forest good value and deserving of their point. Brentford left frustrated. Twitter given a wide berth. Frankly, life’s too short to read that in the heat of the aftermath.   

Checks for #Frankout

Sunday morning. Time to pick up the pieces once more. To read match reports and see what Thomas had to say for himself. His key take away being that, “this was close to a spotless performance in every aspect, we defended well, created chances, pressed forward and first half we should have been 2-0 up“.

Well yes, he’s right from many respects. Shoulda Woulda Coulda, though. Chances don’t win games, strikers do. Or, at least, goal scorers. Any other day at least one of those probably goes in and the game is safe. But it didn’t. It was today. Not the other 9 times out of 10. And it’s agonising. As much as anything else because we know how last season played out when opportunity knocked. That’s the obvious downside and the place people are likely to gravitate towards. It’s football. We’re pessimists. We’ve been here many, many times. Dont even start me on there W place in North London.

Personally speaking, I’m of the more optimistic school of thought. It goes without saying I’d prefer to be in the position Watford find themselves, even though they have played that additional game. Yet they aren’t home and hosed yet. Anything but. Let’s not forget they still need to come to Lionel Road in the penultimate game of the campaign. That’s before they host Swansea City.  We win that one and our game in hand over them then the gap is a solitary point. Imagine actually needing a favour off Swansea at the end of all this? 

I can’t really think that way. This is on us still. We still have the time and potential on our side. There are still 9 games to play. That’s a fifth of the season as near as makes no difference. This campaign still has SO much football left in it. We’ll call it after game 46. Not after a result that doesn’t go our way. 

Everybody now gets the chance to reset and recover. Hopefully our internationals will all be suffering from niggles that cause their precautionary resting from World Cup qualification and U-21 duty. We’ve still got Josh Dasilva and Rico Henry to return. Hopefully this season . Hopefully soon. Along with Ivan they are two of the best players in the division, let alone this team. Name me any Championship side that could honestly say it was better without players of their calibre? Well, we all know the answer to that and whilst lamenting their absence won’t help anyone, I’d love if they play some significant role in that final run in. Fingers crossed the anti-gravity treadmill, or whatever else they are hooked up to, is doing its thing.

Until then, time to try and chill for a bit. There are two weeks until the next round of fixtures. We’ve got the Mark Devlin derby at Huddersfield on Easter Saturday. The day before, Watford host Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea go to Birmingham City.  Fingers crossed that’s a Good Friday. For Brentford.

For a moment, it looked like we’d have comfortable afternoon. Sadly, this was the only chance taken

Nick Bruzon

Amazingly, this stat seems true – and I don’t like it.

19 Mar

Brentford host Nottingham Forest on Saturday lunchtime. The game live on Sky with a 12.30 kick off. The Bees looking to bounce back from the 2-2 draw with Wayne Rooney’s Derby County on Tuesday night. A game we could, maybe should, have been out of sight in by half time. Instead, our PMA got on the coach early and a second half no show saw us hanging on for 45 minutes before succumbing to the inevitable equaliser. Frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe it but there’s nothing we can do now except kick on and go ag, ag, ag, once more. Elsewhere, there was amazing news on the international front with nothing but plaudits for Ethan Pinnock and Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa but still a Bee in our hearts) earning call ups for Jamaica and England respectively.

First World problems, eh? The sort most teams would love. Automatic is still well within our control, should we find our mojo. It seemed to be well back after the game at Blackburn and the opening period against Derby. Then, inconsistency struck. For Thomas Frank, selection headaches, of the nicest sort at centre-back. Pontus, Winston and Ethan Pinnock are all fit. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, as popular music’s Meatloaf once sung. So will we dispense with full backs and go for the lot? Then there’s the perennial question of Fosu v Canos. The former at least attempted to inject some of the zest that had so sadly gone awol from the rest of the team when he came on. Sergi had already added to his goal haul. 

Yet perhaps the biggest conundrum is how Bryan Mbeumo rediscovers his spark? There, perhaps, the greatest enigma of all. He seems to be either amazing our anonymous. Like Sergi, Thomas Frank has persisted, perhaps in the hope that he will also return to last season’s consistent brilliance. With one game to go before the break I am sure we will see more of the same.

Flying Bryan is a joy to behold

That’s me. Flying Bryan was an integral part of the BMW that got us so close last time out. We’ve readjusted to life without Ollie Watkins just wonderfully, Ivan Toney scoring at an even more prodigious rate than the now Aston Villa man, but our approach play has felt, if not laboured, then certainly off the pace at times compared to last season. Then again, we’re a different team. The emergence of Vitaly Janelt in the middle a joy to behold. With Christian Norgaard fit again, those two have immediately formed a quite wonderful partnership. Questions as to whether they can play together well answered. When Josh Dasilva is fit once more we could have quite the line. Regardless of individuals, that return from injury can’t come soon enough. Whomever else is picked, a fit Josh is a guaranteed starter.

As for Nottingham Forest, well…. I heard a stat on this week’s Prutton’s Predictions podcast for Sky Sports claiming that ‘own goals’ was their leading scorer. Surely not? Well, a check of the stats sees 29 scored in the league, 25 named players getting them and Lyle Taylor leading the pack on 4. Meaning that, at the least, o.g.s would seem to be joint top. 

Urghh. I hate these sort of nuggets. Much like Derby not scoring in four games before we played them, the sort of thing that can only come back to haunt you. Either Grabban or Taylor (and talk about the DoFs making the right transfer selection there) to get a hatful or one to go in off Henrik’s backside and further strengthen o.g’s claim for the Forest golden boot.  Please note: by Henrik, substitute ‘anyone’. For once, a jinx free game of regular football would be just wonderful. It’s Brentfoird, innit? A moniker I’d love if we could dispense with as we enter this final run of fixtures.

Cripes,  I can’t call this. Even though I have on the aforementioned podcast. Let’s just wait to see what plays out. One last push before International break. The dream of three points at the forefront of the mind and then, once more, hoping Watford and Swansea care to fall over in their games at home to Birmingham City and Cardiff respectively. If ever there was a time to prove you are ten times better…

Come for the podcast, stay for the stats (and dodgy predictions)

Nick Bruzon