Tag Archives: Tottenham

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

23 Dec

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

Brentford had no answer to Chelsea’s Tuchel bonus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The GPG may be on to something

Nick Bruzon

Brentford – Chelsea about as intriguing as they come.

22 Dec

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

Hey, we can say it now. Wembley.

Norgaard unleashes hell

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

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

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

Urghhh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

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

4 Dec

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Son last time out ; now Raphinha is the threat

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

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

Nick Bruzon

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

4 Dec

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

A first appearance since Covid tests for Jensen

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

Enjoy. And see you at Leeds United.

Nick Bruzon

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

3 Dec

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

Who starts? Who is fit? Can we do it?

2 Dec

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

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

Full time, Sunday

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

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

The games are thick and fast

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

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

23 Nov

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another of these would be a thing of beauty

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

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

Darren England has the helm when Everton come to town

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

Put simply, I can’t wait. See you there.

12 Aug

This is it. Thursday morning. One more wake up to go until Brentford open the 2021-22 Premier League. Arsenal the opponents in a much publicised fixture and the event of our first game at this level, the top flight of English football, since 1947. Cripes. It’s all getting a bit close. And as if that wasn’t enough, we’ve the pleasure of a home tie with Forest Green Rovers in the second round of the league cup which takes place the week after next. A chance to see if we can go one step further than last season’s epic run and eventual semi-final defeat by Tottenham. Ahh, VAR.

Insert usual cliches and well worn tropes about little Brentford. Exciting. First fixture (sorry, done that one already). Underdogs. Tinpot. Bus stops. Stats. XG. Moneyball. Thomas Frank’s luxuriant hair.  Underachieving Arsenal. A club currently sitting in the shadow of North London neighbours Spurs (last season’s table doesn’t lie). Fan TV. 

Come on. It IS luxuriant. Almost Ginola-esque

There we go. That’s about five paragraphs saved from pretty much any article about tomorrow’s game. Including this one. We’ve done Premier League excitement to death. I won’t deny I’m still absolutely buzzing about what will be over the next 9 or so months but it is as much about the chance for us to be part of a full house crowd once more. To have a pre-match pint with friends. And a few after. To share that mutual thrill whenever a new campaign begins. Only alphabetical order keeping Arsenal above Brentford at present. The Bees entering the game in the knowledge that victory on Friday evening, should it happen, will see us the highest placed club in English football. Three points clear of the rest and only 37 games to go.   

Throw it all out the window. The simple fact of the matter is that nobody knows what to expect. Nobody knows what will play out. Will record breaking goal machine Ivan Toney inspire the Bees to victory? Pick up where he left off last season? Who will even start? Two centre-backs or three?  Who plays at right wing back? How will new signing Yoanne Wissa ( the wide man now confirmed on ‘official’ after his being photographed in the crowd during the defeat of Valencia) fit in? Does Frank the Tank start? The only thing we can say for sure is, as suspected / known by just about everyone, Josh Dasilva is out long term. This, something confirmed by Thomas Frank in yesterday’s press conference.

Welcome Wissa etc etc

Ah, Thomas. Head coach par excellence and the man who steered us over the line of play-off hoodoo and into the Prem. His stock is as high as it has ever been amongst the Brentford faithful. Aswell as those dissenting voices from last season. Coventry away, anyone? He also used the occasion of meeting the press to talk about his hopes for, firstly, the Arsenal game: 

I expect two things from Friday; my players will run themselves into the ground and the fans will be right behind us through every minute. This is the kick-off to a new world where we have never been before.

As for longer term, he explained that: “There are two simple targets for me. One is to win the next game which is on Friday against Arsenal. Two is to finish as high as possible. We want to be positive minded and attacking for as many minutes as possible.

Oooh. This could be fun. Kevin Keegan style kamikaze football? Full tilt attack? Or go for broke, grab a goal and then lock things up? The full quota of possible attacking minutes having been reached at that juncture?

For me, Clive, our methodology has only ever been one of taking the game to the opposition. The best form of defence is attack and all that. The play-off final, about as high pressure a game as one would expect, being the consummate example. We attacked from the off and kept going. Swansea City not given a look in. It’s not our way to play overly cautious and as common as anything else to see attack minded substitutions made late on. Even when winning.

Come on. It IS luxuriant (attacking football, I mean)

The difference now being we are going to be playing at a higher level. The step up in quality of opposition about as huge a gulf as they come. Obvious, of course, but something which does call into question how much attacking will be possible. Will we have the nous, or inclination, to put the brakes on as and if needed? Will our attacking threat keep up the drive that has seen 7(seven) goal bracketing become a more regular thing in recent seasons and our GD go through the roof? More importantly, how much of a challenge will they find the step up?

Questions. Questions. Questions. That nobody gives us a significant hope is clear to all. Just look at the bookmakers’ (for research purposes). They’re rarely wrong when it comes to picking winners yet, in truth, nobody knows how this is going to go. Either on Friday against Arsenal or longer term. Brentford are the great unknown. A new team at this level and one looking to become only the 7th (seventh) to win their first ever Premier League fixture. It’s a huge ask, on paper, and there’s going to be a massive global audience on Friday night as things get underway. 

Put simply, I can’t wait. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

A fine win despite key absences and is that an incoming player?

8 Aug

Brentford completed pre-season with a 2-1 defeat of Valencia which saw the Bees go from strength to strength as the game progressed. Despite no Ivan Toney in the squad (conspiracy theories ranging from injury to sale – Tottenham, Aston Villa, anyone? doing the rounds), the arrival of Frank Onyeka from the bench and, seemingly, Yoane Wissa from L’Orient left us with the prospect of even better to come. A day which started so sadly, with news of Bees legend Robbie Cooke passing away at the age of just 64, ended with spirits high and Arsenal next up. You know, in the Premier League.

A winning goal celebrated at Lionel Road

Where to start? A crowd of over 10,000 (not bad for a warm up match) saw Brentford grow in stature over the course of a game in which VAR once again got in the way of proceedings. A goal for Marcus Forss was chalked off within five minutes after we’d all celebrated, prompting much frustration from both the crowd and Peter Gilham on the p.a.

VAR 1 Players 0’ he announced at one point, amongst other choice first half utterings. That tangle with the green screen doing nothing to affect his own skills as he would later reel off a list of substitutions for Valencia, concluding with ,”and one other, I think.”

If you’ve got it, use it…..

Instead, it was the Spaniards who took the lead midway through the opening period. Yours truly missing that one after ‘doing a JJ‘. Urgh. The summary from H and Mrs B being that “they pretty much walked it in”. Yet a goal down at half time soon turned into a rejuvenated Bees XI in the second period. Thanks largely, to that man Onyeka. My word, he looks immense. Dominating the midfield in place of Samman Ghoddos and from that moment on there was only going to be one winner. 

VAR getting in the way to deny what appeared, from where we sat, a clear penalty. Two incidents today and, of course, the Ivan Toney ‘equaliser’ in the League cup semi-final at Tottenham have meant our introduction to the much maligned system has been a less than happy one. Here’s hoping we’ve got the harsh calls out of the way early. Thankfully, in the end, it all proved irrelevant.

Biblical torrents in the second half doing nothing to stop the Bees . Instead, we weathered the storm and took the game to our opponents in some style. Ethan Pinnock got the first, heading home a corner from Sergi Canos. The Valencia ‘keeper given no hope as the big man did his dead ball thing once again. Perfect delivery. Perfect timing. Perfect finish. 1-1 and game on.

Within a few minutes we had the lead. Frank Onyeka with a low finish from the edge of the box to give us the lead after Rico’s cross had caused panic in the box. It was a beautiful finish which, combined with his overall performance (see also: West Ham) suggests the Brentford DOFs have done it again.

Celebrate good times, come on !!!! (‘official’ capturing the mood on Twitter)

It finished 2-1 and could have been more. Whilst friendlies don’t count for huge amounts, I’d rather be winning them and playing well than going home on the wrong end of a reverse. Brentford very much did the former. Onyeka aside, Rico looked strong as did Kris Ajer as part of a three man central defence. His ball carrying skills in particular giving the Bees another route forward. 

There was as much talk about those not selected though. Aswell as Tariqe Fosu and Shandon Baptiste, the absence of Ivan Toney had tongues wagging. Injured? Signing for Spurs to replace the outward bound Harry Kane? Resting? Presumably nothing more than the later with the talismanic front man the absolute first name on the team sheet for Arsenal on Friday. Thomas Frank taking the opportunity for one, last look at alternative systems and players as well as, perhaps, playing a few mind games. “A very minor injury” according to the BT Sport commentary team, apparently.

The other notable absentees being Buzz and Buzzette. That’s it. Pre-season done and no sighting of our iconic mascots. What’s the story, ‘official’? Where are they? Corona can’t be an excuse with those furry suits being about as self-isolating as it is possible to be, a deep sea diver’s get up aside. There’s going to be outrage on Friday night if they remain missing. 

One unexpected sighting was that of Yoane Wissa, if the pictures are to be believed. The player seemingly having signed for the Bees if you believe the GPG. As reliable a source as one could find these days with Jackson Grout on Twitter having the right seat at the right time to snap this one.

Yet on a day which saw a parade of legends prior to kick off, there was one notable absence. That of Robbie Cooke whose passing had been announced earlier in the day. The player, an absolute hero in his time at Brentford with the goal at Wembley in the 1985 Freight Rover Trophy being up there amongst his most fondly remembered moments. 64 is way, way too early and a really sad way to start the day for so many Bees fans, for whom it seems like only five minutes ago Robbie was doing his thing at Griffin Park.   

Instead, there were fond memories and dignified announcements from Peter, a man who has been such a longstanding part of the club and seen all our modern day heroes. Not to mention a few more. With Arsenal here in a few days time, now is the time to dream about who can add themselves to that list. I can’t wait to find out.

Roll on Friday. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Not even Michael Caine could have turned this around.

6 Jan

Well played Spurs. Let’s start right there. Brentford went down 2-0 on Tuesday to miss out on a place in the League Cup final against a quality side packed with more than enough talent to reach Wembley. Jose Mourinho went strong and was duly rewarded. Mind you, so did Thomas Frank with only Pontus Jansson missing from what could now be deemed his preferred starting XI. It wasn’t quite enough. The combination of defensive generosity, great finishes and the machinations of VAR being enough to see Tottenham through. They controlled the game, no doubt, but there was enough about the Bees to suggest this wasn’t going to turn out the foregone conclusion many expected. Manchester City play Manchester United this evening to discover who will contest the final. Luckily for both, they’ll be spared referee Mike Dean.

Urghh. What can you say about the controversial man in the middle? Personally, I was left thinking that this is how it would be if Keith Stroud did regular top flight action. Soft yellows given to Brentford. Robust challenges unpunished from the hosts. Josh Dasilva sent off for an accidental, albeit painful looking, foul on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Understandable on review, even if without any intent. Yet it was the second half VAR controversy (words as intrinsically linked as ‘Mrs Browns Boys’ and ‘unfunny’) that left the sour taste in the mouth. 

By that stage Spurs were already ahead. A bright start from the Bees being stopped dead in its tracks with not even a quarter-hour played when Moussa Sissoko was given the freedom of the penalty box. Marking that took the social distancing guidelines to the letter of the law. The Tottenham man heading home with pleasure and Brentford on the back foot. The wind taken from our sails and containment the immediate next order of the day. A flurry of half-chances and no further breaches the best we had to show.

Half time came and went. The Bees back out with a spring in their step. Lucky shirts being worn back home were clearly doing their thing. Forget the ever closer Ivan Toney. The magic of Bryan Mbeumo. The I don’t know what of Mathias Jensen. The goal felt like it was coming and sure enough, it did….. Just after the hour who else but Ivan Toney was there to head home from close in!! TW8 erupted. The players celebrated. Game on. Echos of the quite magnificent Escape to Victory ringing in the ears… “We can win this!!

Sadly though, we couldn’t. Michael Caine, Pele et al may have had a dodgy referee, physical opponents and superior opposition to deal with. We had, well all of that  – albeit without the dodgy acting – but also VAR. The much maligned tool alerting Mike Dean to the fact that the Championship’s leading scorer may have been offside as he guided the ball home. Indeed, after multiple replays Dean felt obliged to chalk off the goal he had already awarded. Toney’s fingernail being apparently ahead of the last defender’s heel and, as such, interfering with play as fell to his knees.

We quoted this one in last night’s post match immediacy. There’s no reason not to do it again. 

Hey, its not Spurs fault and no sour grapes towards them. Does anyone really think we’d have complained had it gone the other way? Of course not. Yet this doesn’t make it any easier. Doesn’t make the game we love feel even further away from the thing of excitement and spontaneity that it used to be. Instead, the life has been sucked out of it with goals being tediously dissected by set squares and sub-millimetre thin lines on screen. Its not even close to being obvious. Its an absolute joke.

Spurs, of course, did what teams do in these situations, Remained calm, professional, well used to it. With Bees fans and players feeling the most tremendous sense of injustice, out hosts carried on as normal and within minutes had gone down the other end to double the lead. Son Heung-min bursting clear to leather one past David Raya. A top quality move and finish from one of the best players in the land. No complaints. No arguments. First class. Game over man. Game over.

There was still enough time for VAR to alert Mike Dean to the fact that he may want to give Josh Dasilva a red card. It was inevitable the second the replay was shown on the big screen. It made no impact to the outcome but does now mean he misses out on the FA Cup (who doesn’t though?) and the more important league games with Reading and Luton. Thomas will need to get his whiteboard back out and rejuggle for them.

Tottenham deserved it overall, even if that’s not how football necessarily works. Ultimately, it comes down to balls in the back of the net and we had that denied us in the most painful of circumstances. Thomas would talk about how proud he was at full time and I guess he’s right.

Yet thinking about it this morning, the overall feeling is one of genuine frustration that we haven’t beaten one of the best teams in the Premier League. That we have had the chance of victory, could have taken it, matched our opponents but were ultimately denied by external factors. That is perhaps what we should focus on. Nobody gave us a chance but we just carried on doing what we’ve done so far this campaign. Played our best combination against the team in front of us. And we ran them blinkin’ close. 

This was no trashing and whilst I don’t overly do the ‘plucky losers’ thing (nobody remembers, or cares about how unlucky the beaten team were) the feeling remains that we had enough about us to win this one. Had the breaks gone, then who knows. The experience alone could prove invaluable in or long term future. 

Jose Mourinho was adamant at full-time that we’d meet again next season in the Premier League. I think he’s right, too. In the short term then look positive. At least we can concentrate on the league.

Nick Bruzon