Tag Archives: Tottenham

Christian Eriksen. Is this the biggest clue yet in transfer saga ?

23 Jun

Oh, Christian Eriksen. He plays for Brentford. In red and white.. etc etc etc. How such an incredible player has been bequeathed such a tongue twister of a song is a mystery up there with the pyramids or Stonehenge. Perhaps the only thing more confusing being the Denmark International’s destination next season. The Bees? Tottenham? Manchester United? Newcastle United have also been mentioned along with the likes of Leicester City (although presumably, if that were somehow to happen, they’d suddenly remember there’s a carnival going on and so any unveiling would have to be delayed).

Nobody needs a lecture on how staggeringly good Christian was for Brentford last season. On how he slotted back into football as though he had never been away following that temporary interruption to his career at Euro 2020. The precision delivery. The 6th sense allowing him to play the ball into space yet still meet an onrushing colleague. The goals. Oh, the goals. Just a mention of Chelsea bringing a smile to the face. His ball across for Pontus at Watford was precision delivery that not even Postman Pat could hope to muster up.

Despite the heroics and good times, we all knew that it was a temporary affair. A six month contract having been signed back in January and one that has now expired, leaving him homeless. The clamour for Eriksen’s signature one of the most talked about moves of the summer.

Norbee Bjorn does his best to persuade Christian where the future lies…

There are so many reasons why sticking with Brentford makes sense. Guaranteed football. A wonderful environment at a club located in a great city. The chance to shape destiny. The Danish connection. Moreso, with Denmark having qualified for the World Cup this winter. Loyalty, even. We took, at the time, what was considered by many outsiders to be a risk. Didn’t that work out well ?

The flip side, of course, being that the lure of Champions league football (Tottenham) and a bucketload of cash (everyone) would be hard for anybody to resist.

The bookies had Brentford as favourites to re-sign him a few weeks ago. Then the Tottenham connection grew. Manchester United, Leicester City and Newcastle were also linked. Nobody knew how much was rumour and how much was fact. Whatever you read there was nothing concrete. Just clickbait.

Then, suddenly, the Bees were out of the running. You couldn’t bet on Brentford, even if you wanted to. At least, with my online bookmaker (who, of course, is used purely for research purposes).

This morning, in the daily trawl for any clue whatsoever, a diamond emerged from the rough. We’re back in the running. Brentford are available to bet on.

With – if you believe what you read – interest in his joining Manchester United and Spurs seemingly on the way out, staying at Lionel Road would seem to be an option. The bookies are rarely wrong and I’d take their insight over any conjecture or Twitter ‘expert’.

There we go. 7-2. Third favourite, with United and Spurs both drifting out compared to yesterday. Brentford back in the running after dropping off the shortlist for the last few weeks. Is this a sign? Wishful thinking? Blind optimism? Or the biggest indication yet that this global superstar could be plying his trade in red and white once more?

Here’s hoping. I was fortunate enough to meet the great man towards the end of last season and, like all connected with our squad, he was nothing but the most personable to approach – even if it was a case of losing any semblance of cool or reserve that one might have hoped to retain. There are some players where the only reaction possible is to regress 40 years in an instant and go from ‘grown up’ to wide-eyed, giggling school kid.

That’s the presence and stature of the man, though. Fingers crossed we get to experience it all again next season….

A meeting of two greats – Christian and THE green jacket

Nick Bruzon

Double fantasy points to one result. Could it happen?

2 May

Four Premier League games to go. Brentford about to face Manchester United in a top flight fixture. Bees with their tails up following an unbeaten April that included the 4-1 trashing of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and culminated in last weekend’s 0-0 with Tottenham. A game which, even now, seems bizarre that we ‘only’ took one point. Life is good. Further enhanced by Everton winning yesterday – something which has put the relegation cat amongst the pigeons. All of a sudden Leeds United finding destiny outside of their own hands. That final fixture of the season could be huge. All that’s to come, though. For now we need to focus on matters at hand. Namely our own top ten aspirations and a trip to Old Trafford.

This one really has it all to play for. A win for Brentford will take us to tenth in the table with just three games to play. Manchester United are eating dinner in the last chance saloon if Champions’ League qualification is the aspiration. Like Watford at the other end, only maths are keeping them alive. 8 points from fourth place with three games to play. The Bees with a wonderful chance to pull the plug on their life support before the inevitable blow is dealt by one of the many tams above them winning an actual game. With the Theatre of Dreams (TM) more a place of nightmares at present, there will never be a better chance. Morale seems to be worse than that of the studio audience at a live recording of Mrs. Brown’s Boys as Brendan O’Carroll fluffs his lines once more and they need to go again. Will the torture ever end?

For Brentford, there was great news in that both Kris Ajer and Christian Norgaard are expected to return. Magnificent though their respective covers did in the Spurs game, I can’t imagine Thomas Frank will mess around with making them fight for their place. Both players are just too good to leave on the bench if they are fit. Hardly cutting edge insight, granted, but at this point in the season the line up is largely settled and the team – now working around the magnificent Christian Eriksen – are on fire.

View from the away end – Christian shows how much it means at Chelsea

All the predictions of doom and gloom continue to be thrown back in the faces of those who utter them. 20th was the call before the season began. Relegation was the call as we hit that mid-winter blip. Even as recently as Saturday afternoon the team line up prompted reactions such as ‘Where are the centre backs’ and ‘Just seen the line-up. Time to stick a straw straight into a bottle of gin’. Again, the critics left with copious amounts of egg on face as Brentford again did what we’ve been doing all season.

Tonight will be no different. My online bookmaker (used purely for research purposes) has Brentford at 18/5. Manchester United 22/31. To be fair, a lot tighter than games against the clubs chasing Europe normally are but still a clear winner has been targeted by the bookies. And? It’s nothing new. We have the spirit. We have the form. We have the passion and the ability to pull it out the bag as seen at Chelsea. At West Ham. Against Liverpool, and Arsenal. That never say die spirit that has kept us going until the last kick of every game. Blood and guts turning draws into wins. 

And we have a green jacket. Cinderella, you shall go to the ball. After missing out on this one for a whole plethora of reasons, an 11th hour saviour has sailed in to view. Now, there is the offer of a return trip and a ticket. Jurassic Park!! I’m in. As the message went: “ I need to know if the green jacket will be making an appearance…

It has now been worn six times at games. It has seen 16 points. 

Norwich (a) W.

Burnley (h) W.

Chelsea (a) W

West Ham (h) W

Watford (a) W

Tottenham (h) D  – albeit worn by Mrs B due to yours truly’s enforced absence.

Could this luckiest of lucky totems inspire further glory? Or is it just down to Christian Eriksen? A mere coincidence that the run has matched those games he has started for Brentford.

En-route to another three points. This time, Watford.

As for Manchester United, they give the impression of a team intent on shooting themselves in the foot time and again. Only Cristiano Ronaldo, that talismanic tour de force, with his unpredictability and almost super human talent, able to offer any vague hope of salvation at the moment. A player who despite his own desperately sad personal news in recent works, still drives onwards. Still pulls the goals out the bag and the team out of the mire.

As we’ve said on the pages many times, an 18 month spell working in Manchester back in 2007-08 meant that I was often that most odious of species – an Old Trafford football tourist. The cliches about fans living down South all true as a colleague, who shared a pair of season tickets with three fans from London, often found he had a spare for midweek games. If Brentford weren’t playing at the likes of Accrington Stanley (coldest. away game. ever), Bury or Stockport County then what else was there to do of an evening? Amongst other visits I was there for the night Ronaldo defied logic and gravity to score ‘that’ free kick against Portsmouth. It is ability of that level that still sets the alarm bells off, even now – fourteen years later.

Still. That was then. This is now. Last night I had a strange dream (involving the fact that I somehow watched the game on Sky 24 hours before kick off) that Brentford win 3-1. Then, our Harry got up from bed, came out of his room and the first thing he said to me was, “Dad – we’re going to win 3-1 tonight.” .

Insert Twilight zone jingle. The go directly back to the bookie’s website for some further research. Undue optimism or is there something in the air? At 35/1, it would seem churlish not to have a nibble. Will it come off? I can’t wait to find out. See you there. Have jacket, will travel.

Until then, here’s the Tottenham catch up and player review….

Nick Bruzon 

Just four games to go and fate is hanging in the balance

28 Apr

How things can change. Nine years ago it was one of the lowest points in our club history – the appearance on Soccer AM where we missed more penalty kicks than, well, we all know what happened later that afternoon against Doncaster Rovers….. At least we had the pleasure of seeing Frank Leboeuf being about as Gallic as they come. Charm personified (on and off camera) then puffing on a Gauloises the second he was out the studio. Likewise, there was a TV debut for our H – and he hadn’t even been born at that stage.

Now Brentford have four games to go in our first Premier League campaign with a top ten finish still well in sight. Next up, Monday evening’s trip to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United. With it, a chance to avenge their second half ‘smash and grab’ at Lionel Road in January . There will be half an eye on their game at home to Chelsea tonight although whether a full viewing will be allowed in our house after watching both Liverpool and Manchester City in some quite wonderful Champions’ league action remains to be seen. Three nights of football in a row will all depend on a combination of marital goodwill combined with whether Kirsty and Phil are currently loving it or listing it.

Hopefully no repeat of the Soccer AM ‘performance’

Still, if that’s the worst of our problems then sporting life is indeed good. There’s a gap of just three points in the table from Brentford in 12th to Newcastle in 9th. We’ve got a tantalising run-in to try and secure that wonderful finish. Manchester United (a), the visit of Southampton and then a chance of sealing a relegation.

First bite comes with the game at Everton before the season concludes with the visit of Leeds United. Watford’s abject form means it unlikely both can now go down, as earlier predicted by The Last Word super computer, but Everton look like a dead man walking whilst Leeds find their next three games against top four clubs in Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea. A haul of nil points is quite feasible from those and then, should the Toffees somehow find the means to reverse their form, there could be some very squeaky bums at Elland Road.

Its all ifs, buts and maybes of course. For me, Clive, the way Brentford have played since the return of David Raya and the arrival of Christian Eriksen / green jacket (delete as applicable) has been nothing short of wonderful. Unbeaten April – including the humping of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge – culminated in holding Tottenham on Saturday night. It was a game that I am sure, had he been watching, Dean Smith would have called Brentford as deserving to win. We didn’t, but the performance in adding another point to our haul was about as good as it gets. Up there with those wonderful moments against Arsenal, Liverpool, West Ham and Chelsea.

Chelsea away the highlight of a wonderful April

Indeed, but for the punishment inflicted by covid and injury around Christmas, who knows what might have been this season?  The manner of that last minute call off from Manchester United  – a few days after their own sub-Everton performance at Norwich City – one which still sticks in the craw even now. Even if it did save us a goalkeeping conundrum having to be solved. 

It certainly has felt like a campaign which has started and finished at 100mph after getting bogged down in the middle. The squad being used to the maximum and no panic buying. Those predicting doom and gloom when nobody came in have now been left with copious amounts of egg on face.

Nobody, that is, barring Christian Eriksen. A player for whom there aren’t sufficient words to describe how wonderful he has been. The primary focus being his own return to playing with the obvious benefit being what he has then got on to do for Brentford. Should Phil Gules, Matthew Benham et al persuade Christian his future lies with Brentford then who knows what next season might bring. Moreso if David Raya can borrow a pen from Pontus.

David has been key to our recent form

For now let’s focus on a top ten finish. Realistically, we’re looking at 10 points from 12, minimum, starting Monday. Only a fool would write off Manchester United, of course. Their form has been woeful – even Everton beat them the other week in what was one of the most dreadful games of football I’ve ever had the misfortune to witness. There is no comment needed on the toxic atmosphere pervading from all angles of Old Trafford. They limped past doomed Norwich City and shot themselves in the foot at every opportunity against Arsenal on Saturday. 

Can they use tonight’s game with Chelsea to salvage a last gasp stab at reaching the Champions’ League? Time is running out, that’s for sure. They’re six points, and inferior goal difference behind Arsenal with four to play. By the time Brentford visit, dreams of feasting at Europe’s top table could be all over.

All being well, the remote can be controlled for a third night in a row. It has been a cracking week of football for the neutral observer and tonight promises to be no different. Moreso given Brentford fans have a very vested interest in how things play out at Old Trafford.

Until then, the Tottenham player review (where the battle for our season long star man is going to the wire), is up here. Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon

Brilliant Bees round off April in style.

24 Apr

Well that was an amazing afternoon and as much, from a personal perspective, because I wasn’t there. A funeral in Gibraltar of a much loved aunt meant yours truly was overseas during the prep for Brentford – Tottenham. Having been expected home by Friday afternoon, weather based debacle then struck to such an extent that all flights were cancelled and touch down in London only made near 9pm last night. With the first half watched on mobile phone in a departure lounge and Mrs. B. reluctantly picking up green jacket duty, the chance to see us take on Spurs was denied. On the flip side, at least our next opponents, Manchester United, were able to be watched in the earlier TV match.  

If there is any positive, our own game being televised live means a full recording has now been watched. Not to mention Match of the Day.

Brentford, again, wonderful. Unbeaten in April and 10 points out of 12. Thomas Frank now in genuine contention for a ‘manager of the month’ award. With Manchester United next up, what time for that jinx to come in to play. Moreso, and I’m putting it out there now, the bank holiday 8pm kick off combined with no trains meaning the trip to Old Trafford has had no option but to be put on ice until next season. Magic pants and green jackets will not be there.

That’s a problem for another day, though. For the minute, time to reflect on where we are at and moreso given the noises coming out when the team was announced. With Ethan Pinnock already known to be missing, the announcement of the team saw him joined in the medical room by Kris Ajer and Christian Norgaard. Starts for Mathias Jensen, Mads Roerslev and Saman Ghoddos prompting our resident soothsayers to predict he ned was nigh. Instead, with regular reserve right wing back Roerlsev shifting to the middle alongside Mads Bech and Pontus (what a game he had), Thomas Frank was again one step ahead of just about everybody. Instead, it was that man Ghoddos how not only played counterpoint to Rico Henry but matched his drive, energy and tenacity.

We’ve all seen it though. We’ve all enjoyed it. The game a quite wonderful one and Brentford on fire from the off. Ivan hitting the woodwork twice, including a last gasp chance that was as close to goal as we were going to get.  Pontus and Christian also amongst those who came close. Tottenham snuffed out to the extent they were limited to a total of zero chances on goal. See also: last week.

There’s no such thing as ‘deserved to win’. We’ve always maintained that and this is no different. Brentford were hands down the better side. Tottenham very much playing second fiddle. Thomas Frank would talk at full time about how impressed he was, about our togetherness whilst also recognising the talent of our opponents. Likewise, Pontus, who would take to social media after the game to note:

A evening to me proud of. Mentality and mindset within this squad are out of this world! Thanks for top class support once again!

Pontus shared this picture on his Twitter – head and shoulders above Tottenham

It was wonderful watching it on TV. Even if in an airport / after the Lord Mayor’s show. It can only have been incredible to catch it live from a clearly buoyant Lionel Road. There’s not much more to add at this juncture although if you want the post-match debrief / star man review then that’s up now and can be found here.

Ultimately, if you were there, you know. If you’ve seen via screens, you’ll be smiling . Certainly, I am this morning. If for no other reason than being safely back in TW8.

Nick Bruzon

Christian Eriksen. Tottenham return rumours latest.

17 Apr

There’s no doubting the phenomenal difference made to Brentford since Christian Eriksen returned to the Premier League. The five games he has started has seen the bees pick up 15 points from five games. Thirteen goals scored and only three against. Watford the latest to fall victim to his wonderful talents (unless there’s another reason for that run of form……….). Newcastle United and Tottenham the latest clubs being linked to his signature once the six month deal signed with the Bees expires in the summer.

Christian helped destroy Chelsea the other week

Not surprisingly, as the Premier League heads towards a fascinating climax his name is at the top of the list for those clubs looking to make an early start on next season’s business. Tottenham have been linked all weekend. Monday through Friday it was Newcastle United. Obvious, of course. The former club is an easy ‘story’. The nouveau riche, with their morally dubious cheque book, able to throw whatever they want. Should they want to.

The latest doing the rounds suggesting that Brentford have already agreed a deal that will see Eriksen sit out Saturday evening’s game with Tottenham. Well, here’s the update. Here’s the answer. Here’s the take on things from our source close to the club.

It’s bullish*t. All of it. Nothing more than click bait. Click bait. Click bait. Nobody knows a damn thing. Brentford have always been three steps ahead of just about everybody when it comes to talent acquisition. Anybody thinking Eriksen is already looking to the North East / North London needs to revaluate their gossip sources.

With Brentford pushing for the top ten of the premier league, the most obvious choice of his club is staring us all in the face. He’s universally loved at Lionel Road. Has the support network of friends and international team mates. Has history with Thomas Frank. Has a club who were prepared to take the chance. And boy has it paid off. Yesterday’s game at Watford seeing another entry on the top five performer’s board .

Eriksen to Spurs? To Newcastle? To Fulham? (why join a Championship club?) All being well his future lies at Lionel Road. However, we won’t know for sure until the summer. You can bet your bottom dollar nothing is even close to being decided now. Regardless of what clickbait you may read.

Now, if Pontus would like to lend him a biro of course…..

If its good enough for Pontus…..

Nick Bruzon

Post match debrief. Who were the top five ? Who is the latest star player?

17 Apr

Brentford have done it again. A 2-1 defeat of Watford making it 6 points out 6 from the hornets. The forthcoming game with Tottenham now offering the Bees a chance to make it 6 Premier League victories from 7 (seven) games.

As ever at this point, we look back at who starred for Brentford. Who were the top five performers as Watford were hit by the ultimate punch to the gut? Who might force their way into the starting XI for Saturday’s game with Tottenham?

https://blog.hollywoodbets.co.uk/sport/player-ratings-gameweek-33/And as ever, the answers are here in the post match debrief and player review. Enjoy…

Nick Bruzon

Bees sting hornets as wonderful run continues.

17 Apr

You wait ages for a Premier League double and then two come along at once. Brentford leaving it late, so very late, to grab the winning goal and condemn Watford to another home defeat. A 2-1 scoreline one that the hosts may feel sees them hard done by but goals win games. Would that Ian Moose had been present – he might have, I neither know nor care – I’m sure the TalkSport narcissist would have been berating the Hornet’s frontline and strapping on his own shooting boots such was the proliferation of late chances they had. One, from Louza, will now have a permanent home in the ‘How did that not go in? files’ . It should have been buried. Instead, with just seconds of time added on left over, it was hoofed over from lads out rather than placed into the gaping goalmouth. The Bees got the ball to safety, went down the other end and Pontus Jansson did his thing to send the travelling fans nuts.  Last weekend’s WW over West Ham now followed by one over Watford. Five wins out of the last six and the top ten a very real prospect. On this kind of form, anything is possible when Tottenham visit on Saturday.

View form the terrace: Brentford go nuts – Watford suffering utter dejection

As regular readers will know, we don’t do full fat match reports on these pages. If you were there, you saw it. Otherwise there’s all manner of ways to catch up on what happened. The main talking points being Brenford once more showing that never say die indefatigability. As Pontus rose to head home the winner and charge toward the flailing limbs from the massed ranks of the way support in front of him, it brought memories of West Ham and Wissa back to the fore. That one, a game where the denouement had come just as late. Where once more things had been down our end. Where the eruption of delight was writ large on everyone’s faces.

Even this morning our Harry was still smiling: “Dad. Dad. There’s only 12 second left. 12 seconds” his joyous realisation as we celebrated em-masse. That glorious bond between fans and players again in evidence as those heroes in white (and blue, let’s not forget David) leapt towards the travelling Bees.

There was no saltiness from the Watford fans in out corner though. Instead, they’d already started melting away long before Louza had been presented the chance to record a home win. Brentford making all the noise. Taking the opportunity to win a game when, being honest, there would have been few complaints had we left Vicarage Road empty handed. Christian Norgaard giving Brentford an early lead following a long throw from Ethan but the game then turning into a dreary nothing rather than the much predicted avalanche of goals. 

Brentford with few chances. Watford even less as our backline mopped up anything and everything that came even vaguely close. When the hosts finally levelled up, ten minutes into the second half, there was a brief moment of salvation as the offside flag went up. Then, it was gone. VAR saving the Hornets and the scores were level. From 90 yards away it was hard to say if it was on or off, even prior to the flag. This morning ’s catch up on Match Of The Day does, once more, show the confusion around the decision making process.

How does this VAR thing work, exactly?

Regardless, there were 35 minutes to save the game. Watford had the upper hand, relatively speaking. They must have been wearing gloves though as finding their way to goal a task that seemed as futile as their survival hopes. Err, what super computer? Move along, nothing to see there….

For Brentford, 5 wins out of the last 6. A total 11 out of 33 played in the Premier League and now up to 11th in the table. The green jacket once again present to continue its 100% win ratio. Played 5. Won 5. Goals For: 13. Goals agasint: 3. Points: 15.

Despite the heat of a balmy spring afternoon, it remained firmly in situ from the off – much to Mrs. Bruzon’s disgust. As at Chelsea, she kindly gave her ticket to a friend and so could only follow from afar. Her generosity matched only by the Watford defence. The WhatsApp messages being exchanged both celebrating victory and lamenting the realisation that this luckiest of lucky omens, this (apparent) crime against fashion, lives to see another game. 

Smiling all the way up the league

That game is, of course, the visit of Tottenham. Something something something Christian Eriksen. I suspect it may be mentioned. That’s the media’s thing, of course. For Brentford nothing more to do than focus on the games left. Those last 15 points to play for. The chance to finish our first Premier League season in the top ten. If ever there was incentive to get behind the Bees then here it is. Those berating Phil Giles in January for his transfer strategy now, strangely silent. Those critics of Thomas Frank and keyboard warriors back under their rocks. Every season it’s the same. Every season the joy felt by Brentford confounding both the critics and even our most vocal of followers becomes even more enjoyable.

Tommy Mooney the latest to add his name to those left frustrated. We’ve already had the Burnley commentary crew and West Ham manager David Moyes in recent weeks. Now we can add the name of the one time Watford goal machine to that list. Sit back and enjoy.

For now, a few days to kick back before we get set for Spurs. Our next chance to continue the climb up the table. Another chance to add a notch to the Premier League bedpost. 

Tottenham. Tottenham. No once can stop them – as Chas & Dave once sung. On this sort of form, I wouldn’t bank on it…

Until then, here’s the player review…..

Nick Bruzon

Will it be case of Hakuna Matata (it means ‘No Worries’) at Vicarage Road?

16 Apr

Hello. Hello. What have we here? Two London derbies down. Two wins under the belt. Two to go. With Brentford having blown Chelsea off the park at Stamford Bridge and then disposed of West Ham in a style akin to a cat toying with a spider, April continues apace. Before the visit from Tottenham next Saturday, today we travel to Watford for what is, arguably, a game where form could go out of the window. With the Championship approaching at a rate of knots, will we get the Watford who have lost four of their last five home games? The Watford with the worst home record in the Premier League this season (they’ve lost 12 out of the 15 games played)? The Watford who could emulate the feat of Birmingham City in 1985-86 and lose ten consecutive top flight games?

Or will the desperation of trying to hang on to top flight status mean Brentford are up against a team possessed ? One with nothing to lose – the game aside – by going full tilt from the off. After going down 3-0 to Leeds United in a result our own super-computer had marked as a home win, the Hornets really are now starting to warm up the vocal chords in the last chance saloon.

So far, so good in April

I love the unpredictability of football. Nobody expected Brentford to humble Chelsea. To be fair, nobody expected Chelsea to give Real Madrid the fright they did in what turned out to be the narrowest of second leg defeats in Europe during the week. Thankfully, that one went as predicted as it means our own game with Tottenham remains on a Saturday rather than the graveyard shift of Sunday lunchtime (only Monday nights are worse). Nobody expects Watford to offer much resistance this afternoon, either. Moreso after falling apart against Leeds United  – oh, the irony – last time out.

That’s dangerous thinking. For now, they’re still standing but anyone thinking they’re going to sacrifice Premier League status without a fight is in for a bumpy afternoon. There’s nothing more dangerous than a caged hornet backed into a corner. Or should that be what looks like a moose? Red deer rather than catering obsessed narcissist. The Bees are under genuine danger of being hit by a rocket, man. Kitchen sinks being thrown from the off. The big question being how we cope? Suck it up and catch them on the break or take the game to opponents for whom top flight survival is a commodity that is hanging by an ever unravelling thread.

Well, the good news is that, if anything, Brentford now have too many options available. Cripes, imagine saying that earlier in the season. Still, unlike David Moyes we’ve never bleated about it as an excuse for defeat. Poor West Ham. How is Kurt, by the way? The bitch is back. And I love it. Zouma getting everything he deserved and moreso last time out. Take that, you cat kicking fool.

Thomas was left purring with delight after the West Ham game

Now, however, the tables are turned. We have choice. The midfield trio of Christian Eriksen, Christian Norgaard and Vitaly Janelt have been inspired in recent weeks. Having one of the best players in world football will do that to you. Even better news came out of the press conference with confirmation that Josh Dasilva is available once more. Thomas Frank telling the massed ranks of the media that he will be involved with the squad, adding, “Fingers crossed he can stay fit and avoid strange red cards so we see more of him. My take is that a fit Josh Dasilva would have been one of our best performing players this season. “

Given the health update –  “He is nowhere near top fit because we need to ease him into it, and it will probably take a couple of weeks before we really see the best of him”  – one can only expect Josh to start on the bench. What an option to have though? What we’ve seen of him so far this season since finally recovery form that injury has been nothing short of wonderful. Now, the prospect of seeing a midfield with Dasilva and Eriksen is one which has all Brentford fans drooling. Ivan Toney must be licking his lips at the prospect.

Also back is Pontus Jansson after missing out against West Ham with illness. Just as in midfield, there are now tough choices to be made in the back line. Thomas Frank has showed he’s not afraid to make the big calls, though. To mix things up and stay a step ahead of the opposition. Cripes, if the home support can’t read it what must our opponents think.

Back fours against Norwich and Burnley saw us revert to five at Chelsea, with Mads Roerslev quite wonderful in the right channel. His reward was to make way for Kris Ajer last week as we once again became a four. Good luck working out what we do today but, being realistic, it is the midfield where this game is going to be won or lost. Whether in containing and breaking or taking the game to Watford ourselves.

Will our captain regain his place now fit again?

For what its worth, I expect us to try and dictate the pace. Whichever line up Thomas has gone for, the approach has been one of going for it from the off. That twenty minute burst where the Bees look to assert themselves. Snuffing out the opposition as easily as a candle in the wind before they can get into the game.

Sitting back has rarely worked well, regardless of whether we are playing Liverpool or Leeds United. I can only expect more of the flair seen in the last month as we aim to make it three league wins in a row.

I can’t wait for this one. It’s not going to be easy. And that’s just the getting to Vicarage Road where the travel has already been decimated thanks to bank Holiday engineering works. All being well, it’ll be worth the effort. Limbs from the Bees faithful. Sad songs from our hosts.

If nothing else, we’ve still got the green jacket. Regular readers to this page know the current win ratio Hakuna Matata indeed. It means no worries !

From Carrow Road to Stamford Bridge and beyond – the stats don’t lie

Just saying. See you there.

Until then, if you’d like to read more then here’s the West Ham review.

Nick Bruzon  

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

23 Dec

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

Brentford had no answer to Chelsea’s Tuchel bonus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The GPG may be on to something

Nick Bruzon

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