Brentford Remind Us What We’re Up Against.

After a disappointing result, it’s so predictable how some people will try to avoid the difficult questions by bigging up the opposition. Which is exactly what I’m going to do now. 

Seriously, I think we can spare a bit of praise for our opponents yesterday, can’t we? 

It’s hard to keep up with everything going on in the league. But during the week I’d heard The Bees were doing well, and had a quick look to see just how well. It was a bit worrying.

They are undefeated in the league since October, have lost the same amount of league games as Man City, and hadn’t conceded a goal in more than five hours before Saturday’s game. They are the league’s form team since the restart. 

Safe to say, Brentford are a well-coached outfit, and Thomas Frank is going to take over at one of the contenders before long. 

Worse, we are exactly the kind of team that they like to play against. They’ve beaten Man City and Liverpool since November, with exactly the kind of robust and direct football that confounded us yesterday.

Where Everton clogged up the pitch and packed the box for set pieces, Brentford combine a low block with unpredictable patterns of play in the transition, overloads that appear out of nowhere, and newfangled set piece routines that will be all over the league in a year or two.

Everton were all adrenaline and fire, but there’s a smooth efficiency to Brentford that tells you they’ve got innovative thinkers behind the scenes.

We can try to make sense of Frank as a coach and Brentford’s style, but it’s obvious that a lot rests on Ivan Toney’s muscular shoulders. As strong as he may be, his intelligence shines through in how he uses his body and spots his teammates’ runs, even mid-duel. 

A couple of times he was totally off balance when he played a pass, and still found the runner. He was the main reason we could never sustain our pressure in the first hour; if you can find him he’ll take the pressure off, and your defence can reset. Toney dominated Saliba, hit the crossbar, and scored the equaliser. 

OK, enough about him. That goal should never have counted. It was offside. And even before that, there was no foul for the free kick; Toney was the one with his arms wrapped around Saliba, echoing Jansson on Leno away at Brentford in 2021.. 

They had caused us a lot of problems, and should have gone one-up at 0-0, but their style is also labour intensive. 

Immediately after Toney shot wide in the 56th minute there were positive signs for us. Brentford’s automated passes stopped connecting, and patches of open grass suddenly appeared in their defensive third. 

Odegaard played Saka into one such sward, and his low, inviting cross was met at the far post by Trossard. 

A quick detour, but does anyone else feel this might have been a game for Trossard to start instead of Martenilli? I thought it made sense to use the Belgian’s intricacy against Brentford’s packed defence, and save Martinelli’s dynamism for the transitions against Man City.

Anyway, the match continued for another 20 minutes after the equaliser, of which the ball was probably in play for about five. We’ve been in the same position and seen games out, but I think an extra three minutes could have been played on top of the time added on and nobody would have been able to complain. 

This result will surely be seen as a continuation of what happened last week. I’d suggest there’s more to it than that, and sides like Brentford prove the quality of the league. For more proof just look out how the other teams at the top end of the table have toiled in the last few days. 

It leaves me unsure how worried we should be, but feeling a little better about our top four chances.

The good news is we don’t have to wait too long to find out where we are at the moment. The bad news is obvious—no wins in three, and last season’s champions are coming with a point to prove on Wednesday.


47 comments on “Brentford Remind Us What We’re Up Against.

  1. Well that has made me feel a lot better, I must say. We must remember that we are in a position that none of us expected in August, some fans are like a £million lottery winner that 6 months later moans it wasn’t enough.
    It’s a fine blog Birdkamp, thanks for the welcome pick me up.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks George. Call it emotional hedging or whatever, but even in that run I never felt like every upcoming fixture was a nailed-on win. It’s just not realistic, and no other team in the league is living up to that standard either.

    Either way, that’s just two wins in five reports, by the way. The jinx is on!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Regardless of the jinks, these reports are 100% the reason that this place feels like the blog of old. They literally have transformed and refreshed the gaff.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s a great post so thanks Birdy. One positive to take out of the game (apart from the almost unanimous condemnation of Lee Mason) was Trossard’s first goal for the Gunners which will hopefully settle him

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Excellent post BK

    Liked by 2 people

  6. That was a fantastic and very fair minded report on a game most of us felt very differently about in the emotional wake of the game.
    I had said before the game that Brentford were a “side” a very together and very organised unit.
    As BK said we knew they had a great record on set pieces but especially in the first half it was their brilliance in transition that caused us all sorts of problems.
    We fought hard to get in front and once we had achieved this then we knew the ariel bombardment would come and indeed it did but Mikel said we had coped reasonably well with set pieces and although there was a few untidy moments we had.
    Watching the replays I thought two of their players were offside in two phases of play but when VAR checked it I thought that there would be an excuse with not interfering with play and someone’s hand playing them onside, so after the game I was wrongly critical of the teams concentration.
    Of course then we find out today that PIGMOL didn’t even check for offside and if they had it would of indeed been ruled out but they said they would apologize so that’s alright.
    So we should be talking about the team struggling in the first half but grinding out a win but the bent officials have once again changed our points total in the table.
    If we are angry with that then came the news that in every game we have dropped points in, with the exception of Everton, VAR has got something wrong.
    These are not subjective opinions but mistakes PIGMOL have admitted. Obviously we can all add other events where we think there were errors but for a group of officials to admit they were wrong so many times while being added by technology is absolutely criminal.
    At a time the media are focusing on corruption at city (while ignoring loads of other big clubs) they are conveniently staying well out of the way on the corrupt officials.
    The blindness shown to corruption in England when we accept it goes on everywhere else is amazingly narrow minded.
    Haaland went off injured today but I would imagine he will be fine for Wednesday.
    Avoiding defeat in that game will be a brilliant result so we can build up momentum again.


  7. yesterday’s woeful decisions in multiple games by the PGMOL game managers, both on the pitch and in the VAR booth, have led to the usual suspects demanding the end of the use of VAR, as one idiot put it, “once and for all”, just shows how easily people are led to lay blame at the wrong option. VAR is a brilliant concept, and if used by competent and honest, unbiased officials who know the rules, it would be a God send to the EPL. But the problem is that in the EPL, VAR is used by PGMOL game managers, and just as they have been, and still are on the pitch, they are when in the VAR booth too, anything but competent, honest, unbiased. 2 decades of professional refs, and its an old boys club, the vast majority are from the same part of the country, greater manchester, not one person of colour, not one london ref, think about that, the population of london has not been able to produce one ref good enough to be employed by the PGMOL, but Lee Mason is deemed good enough. There is not a single ref from the south of England. It reminds me of how in the 60’s and 70’s the FA board was almost totally made up of men from Yorkshire, Manchester and Newcastle. An old boys club.

    Mike Riley was an inept, dishonest, biased ref, he then ran the PGMOL, trained the refs, picked the refs and decided who got on, so why should we think the men he hand picked, trained and promoted would be anything other than made in his image. Howard Webb had not took over from Riley, but come on, Webb was a Mike Riley man, he is built in his image, he was just as bias in his performances as Riley was, why does anyone expect him to now find honesty, fair mindedness and competence. We can but hope, but don’t hold your breath.

    When will we see a London ref or two, when will we see a non white ref or two, and if we forget that end of it, when will we get refs who will implement the rules, and stop this bullshit “game managing” notion.

    The first thing that has to be brought in re VAR is that like Rugby the conversation the Ref and the VAR officials have is broadcast live, lets hear them discuss what the Ref and VAR have seen, what they are checking, what actual rules they are applying, what criteria they are using to get to their end decision. If the PGMOL officials are -HONEST, UNBIASED, COMPETENT, KNOWLEDGEABLE – then they would have no reason what so ever to not have their discussions broadcast. If the are not honest, unbiased, competent and knowledgeable they should not be employed to be officials for the “Best League in the World”.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. george where has my post gone, is there some delay from posting to the comment appearing or what


  9. For some reason, some of your posts are going in the Spam bin, are you using the same device to poast Eddy?


  10. yeah george nothing has changed here, same laptop and same modem


  11. It is absolutely embarrassing that technology is working and helping officials in every other sport but the PL which has so much money can’t make it work.
    Errors can occur and no system is perfect but the consistent regularity with the errors in the PL suggest to any logical person that corruption is afoot.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Like Lee Mason ‘Forgot’ he must have been sure or previously sure he wouldn’t be brought to book for such an obvious cheat. Pathetic from PGMOL


  13. I really don’t understand as surely someone in the VAR team would have spotted the error?
    Total incompetence or deliberate mistake, we will never know.
    It was a difficult game and Brentford were worthy of the draw and hopefully the injustice of the VAR decision will act as a motivation on Wednesday. Unfortunately City looked fully motivated against Villa.


  14. Over the full 90 or so minutes Brentford definitely deserved a draw but it wasn’t our fault they weren’t clinical and the longer the game went on the more we looked like winning.
    Once we went ahead we should of won. Football has never awarded points on who deserved it or who played the best.
    The point is we didn’t lose points to Brentford we lost them to the bent officials once again.
    The media keeps going on about errors with VAR, this is wrong technology has never made a mistake and until fans of all clubs and the media stand up and state this the crooked link in officiating football will not be replaced and therefore improved.


  15. Thanks BK

    Brentford were eighth above Liverpool and Chelsea, before the game.

    Happy to trade that Home draw for the last minute winner against Riley & Webb Utd.

    As George highlights City have two squads that can win the title. If they’re not favourites with or without Darth Haaland who is?


  16. I’ve heard the Home crowd serenade official/rep Mason in the past (Can’t call him a referee if we’re being fair to the pros). You all know some of the songs.
    The Home crowd, the ones who sing songs for great players like Cazorla and so many more they know. Arteta with some interesting comments.


  17. OK to equate. I go to work for a Company and make loads of errors and lose the Company loads of Money, then the Company blames the computer system I put all the incorrect data into. That is the VAR argument from these dinosaurs trash the computer.


  18. Media are complicit in this as they refuse to ask the hard questions and palm it of as an honest innocent mistake or incompetence by the same officials that were making mistakes before the technology was introduced.

    I believe there is something systematic going on between all parties as the same shit happens year in year out but every instance of mistakes with VAR and on the pitch is greeted as if it is the 1st time it is being highlighted.
    The pgmol is dragging its heals to meet the accepted standards of VAR usage, that other leagues have not had the same issues says a lot.
    I refuse to believe corruption in football happens every where except UK.


  19. The press conference room at our London Colney training ground was packed on Tuesday afternoon ahead of our crunch showdown with Manchester City.

    A host of topics were up for discussion during the manager’s press conference, looking ahead to the top-of-the-table meeting with the side Mikel Arteta worked at for more than three years.

    The boss fielded questions on a variety of topics, including the controversial VAR decision in the Brentford game, his plans for the fixture on Wednesday, what he expects from the Emirates crowd and the state of play in the title race.

    Here’s a full transcript of what he said:

    on the VAR decision against Brentford:
    After analysing the images, we [had] a huge anger and disappointment because that wasn’t a human error – that was a big, big, big [case of] not understanding the job. That’s unacceptable. That cost us two points. That’s not going to be restored, so we’re going to have to find those two points somewhere else in the league. But at the same time, we appreciate the apology and the explanation, which was really open, to be fair. We’ve got a lot of sympathy from a lot of colleagues in the industry, in football, that we cannot play with the integrity of the game in the way that we do. That’s it. We have to move on. It has made the players, the staff and our fans even stronger and with more desire to pass this hurdle that they put on us. We are ready for it.

    on whether he is satisfied an incident like that won’t happen again:
    I will only be satisfied if they give me the two points back, which is not going to be the case. I appreciate and I think they were really sincere, open and genuine apologies and explanations, which is really good. But it doesn’t take the fact that we have two less points than we should have on the table.

    on whether it’s hard to take when players and staff work hard but are let down by decisions:
    Everybody makes errors and mistakes. But that was something else. I wasn’t having it, the club wasn’t having it and I think the consequences of what happened are clear.

    on whether VAR is fit for purpose:
    When I see the reaction that Howard Webb, the PGMOL and the Premier League had, and genuine it was, with that anger, they want to do the best they can and they understand everything that is at stake. I think at the end it will help. Hopefully we can use that to make the game better, to have more integrity, better professionals and really pay attention to details that matter, because at the end of the day, that has a significant output on results.

    on whether he’s used the incident to galvanise the squad:
    That was the reaction straight away from everybody. We cannot do anything about it. Don’t use it as an excuse. Try to move on, face it and go for it. That’s it.

    on team news:
    Everybody that we had from the previous game is available so far, unless something strange happens today. We’re looking forward to it.

    on whether he’s close to changing the team:
    That’s more determined by results but for us, it’s more about performances and what players have given us to take us to the position we are in today. They deserve opportunities. Obviously we are looking to give players opportunities that they deserve. You talked about Leo – we’re talking about anybody who has had minutes in this league. There will be changes – it will happen and very soon.

    on the mood in training this week:
    There is a great energy, I sensed it after I arrived after the Brentford game from the start. Around the club there was a mixture of anger and a desire to play the next game, so we need to use that for tomorrow.

    on what is City’s biggest threat:
    They as a team. What they have done in the last six years, they absolutely merit it – on the pitch and the way they play, the way they have competed and how they have gone through difficulties. For us, the challenge is to get to that level and we need to use that challenge and that energy to say ‘this is where we want to be.’ That is the level, and we are heading towards it.

    on never having beaten Guardiola before:
    It’s for the team, the club and where we are. For me personally, it is not about beating one manager, it is about beating the next opponent, and in this case, it is Man City.

    on what he expects from the Emirates crowd tomorrow:
    We’ll play with 15 players tomorrow! They are so into it with every single ball and giving us energy and support, and basically everything they have been doing. Let’s enjoy it, a beautiful night on a really special day.

    on what he has learnt from adversity:
    We have had a few moments in the past as well where we have learnt a lot, especially the people that we have in the team and the type of characters that they are, how much they care about their profession and how close they are to each other, and how clear the ambition and the purpose of what we do every single day to win.

    on whether City’s style will suit us:
    I hope so, obviously they have totally different qualities and game styles, but every team faces difficult challenges.

    on being against Guardiola on the touchline:
    I want to win tomorrow.

    on whether he expected to be in this position at the start of the season:
    If you told me that at the start of the season, I would doubt it! I would hope but I would be doubtful but this is where we are, we have earnt it and now we have to move every single day to try and improve what we do.

    on whether the Premier League should implement semi-automatic offsides:
    I don’t know if that will come, there are many discussions around it. We started this season this way, and maybe there will be changes in the summer – I don’t know what the plan is for that.

    on whether referees should be punished more severely for their mistakes:
    I don’t know, it is not for me to judge. This is not about someone making a mistake and we crucify them, it’s trying to do the best all together to have a fairer sport and make the decision process simpler or clearer, or the communications better, and hopefully that’ll help after what happened last weekend.

    on whether the charges against City have galvanised them:
    I don’t know what the outcome will be.

    on how important title-winning experience will be:
    I don’t know how much experience we had when we had to play Manchester United at home, or Chelsea or Spurs away. It’s about how good we are tomorrow night, how well we perform – that will dictate what happens in the game.

    on how different this game is:
    At the end it’s three points. The same three points that we had to get against Spurs, the two points we lost against Brentford – exactly the same.

    on whether Smith Rowe and Nelson will be available:
    I will write the list now so I will make that decision.

    on whether it’s an advantage that it’s our first title race:
    I don’t know. We are comparing two very different teams. One with huge experience of doing that and a lot of our players have never done it. We want to use that energy and that anger that we have inside to make the most out of it.

    on studying under Guardiola:
    I was working there, I was studying a lot, but I was working there. It was an incredible experience on a personal and professional level, to be with him and all the coaching staff and the players at the time. Like every experience, it made me a better person, a better coach for sure. You use those experiences for your own career.

    on what he thinks when people say they have figured out Arsenal:
    I don’t know. Every team is trying to work out what we do, the same that we do with every opponent (we face). When I look at the games, and what we produce in the games, I’m usually very satisfied with what happens. Sometimes we can do better because there are many factors that can determine that, but for sure we are always looking to evolve to be better, with the players we have, and put them in the best positions to win the games.

    on the atmosphere generated at the Emirates:
    The atmosphere we are generating at the Emirates is incredible. The players are talking about it, and it makes it very special to be part of it.

    on Jesus’s recovery:
    He’s doing really well, he’s on the pitch, he’s been doing a lot of work on his own with the ball already. He’s in good spirits, and so far the rehab is going well.

    on whether there is a timeframe for return:
    Unfortunately not, ask the doctor, maybe he gives you one.

    on whether he believes Guardiola when he says Haaland is a doubt:
    Of course. That’s what he said so I believe him.

    on whether he agrees Arsenal are the best team so far this season:
    Well the table says we have the most points. To be the best team in the league obviously there is still another four months to go and we have to prove that every single game.

    Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source.


  20. English football has always been corrupt and we all know the stories of paper bags full of cash at the side of the road.
    Then when GG was sacked by ARSENAL the total lack of will to look at any else was criminal.
    Old red nose was George’s mate and he had past the same agent on to him and Ferguson used him to get Kanchelskis and Smeichel among others.
    Now what the football authorities and the media want us all to believe is the agent gave GG media as something he thought was the norm but for some reason didn’t with Ferguson.
    Obviously the two decade period of success manure had should never of happened.
    The point was that there was just no will from anyone including the media to penalize utd and that’s because they were the favourites.
    The worry at the moment is although I’m sure city have broken the rules there is an appetite to convict them but a complete ignorance or blindness to do the same to manure, chelski, Liverpool or indeed Blackburn or Newcastle.


  21. Harry Rednapps dog anyone?

    Knows more about Harrys finances than him apparently.

    Portsmouth were media darlings at the time and Harry had the dodgiest of contacts with Portsmouth.


  22. Harry made a serious loss at the spuds and bankrupt Southampton, Portsmouth and West ham, all while not paying his taxes, making millions and taking the money out of nurses pockets.
    The man is a real dirtbag all ends up.


  23. Tonights game is going to be treated with massive extremes whatever happens.
    Tomorrow if we win we will be told we can’t help but win the league and if we lose we are useless and don’t stand a chance.
    Or course neither is true and we have to make sure we approach tonight’s game as important but that’s it. A draw tonight would be a good result and would set us up for a decent finish to a month which as historically not been kind to us.
    The last few games we have lost a little bit going forward and been a little less tight than usual at the back so an improvement in both areas would be good.
    I want a good performance tonight but in truth I’m crapping myself and a shit performance with a one nil win would be fantastic but there you go football fans aren’t sincere COYG.


  24. Arsenal: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, Gabriel, Saliba, Zinchenko, Xhaka, Jorginho, Odegaard, Saka, Nketiah, Martinelli
    Subs: Turner, Tierney, Kiwior, Holding, White, Trossard, Vieira, Cozier-Duberry, Nelson


  25. minutes after eddie misses a great chance KDB curls in the opener for city, we are really up against it now


  26. they are kicking lumps out of saka, but the ref has forgotten his yellow, well not really, he is waiting for an arsenal player to book


  27. ha ha ha 2 city players booked, but neither for fouls, and they are still fouling saka with no yellows given


  28. Saka makes it 1-1 from the spot, after nketiah fouled


  29. Anthony Taylor has been useless, city should be down a man or two, but the manchester ref bottles it all the time


  30. HT: Arsenal 1-1 Man City

    city took the lead but we have done really well to come back against the 12 men of city


  31. the manchester ref gives the manchester club a penalty


  32. looks offside before the penalty, waiting on VAR to decide


  33. VAR calls it offside, so no penalty to city, Taylor will be oh so disappointed


  34. we are getting a bit shaky


  35. ah for fucks sake, grealish takes advantage of more shit playing out from the back to make it 2-1 to city


  36. Trossard on for Martinelli about 15 minutes left


  37. we should have had another penalty, but the foul on trossard not given, oh what a surprise


  38. too easy for city, 3-1, we really have been poor in the second half


  39. Vieira on for Xhaka

    White on for Tomiyasu


  40. thats 3 defeats and a draw in our last 4 games, are we seeing a collapse, or a blip, not a good time to hit the rocks, going to have to regroup quickly and will need to be almost perfect from now on if we are to win the league


  41. now that we are 2nd, will that take the pressure off and allow the team to find its best form again, or will it see us lose more confidence and slip further down the league


  42. More worried about getting CL football than winning the PL, we were in a position where it was in our hands last season and let it slip.

    We currently have 1 striker in the squad.

    The quicker we secure CL football the more I can relax.

    Haallands elbow looked deliberate.


  43. Thought we played very well but were massively naive at 1-1. When we were top people kept saying there’s a long way to go. Well there still is.
    Obviously how we respond now is key, and we could do with a bit of fizz in the final third again.


  44. I would of taken a poor performance if we had got the result but to lose like that was disappointing.
    Yeah the ref was shit but play like that against a lot of sides in the division and we would of lost let alone city.


  45. It was a strange watch a lot of the new Arsenal on display but also in the second half so much of the old Arsenal. At times it had a men against boys feel.
    I totally agree on the top four finish we couldn’t blow it could we?


  46. Fortunately we will pick up form at some point and other of the top four candidates will hit slumps of bad form and drop points.
    Our first fixtures were kind and it allowed momentum but when the big games came along we upped our level.
    We had suffered referring decisions and that has definitely played a part in halting our march but being brutally honest we are making mistakes all over the pitch
    People were pointing the finger at Tommy but there were possibly four mistakes in that small passage of play.
    We lost the ball around the half way line consistently last night and again for the second goal our passing was poor.
    The third goal several players got dragged towards the ball meaning Tommy had to come across but no one see that happening and came back to cover. You have to wonder where Saka and MO were considering the time from breakdown to grelish shooting.
    On the positive note there were some really good passages of play, so apart from obviously concentrating getting back to defending as a team there are some good things going forward.


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