Cottagers Confidential: On goal difference, Brentford are sixth best team in the division. By expected goals, according to Experimental 3-6-1 you are 13th. Do you feel that your current position accurately reflects how the team has played? Should they be higher? lower?
Beesotted: Brentford start this match in 9th place. When we did our pre-season predictions blog amongst Brentford fans, no-one predicted us finishing below 13th place with most fans pitching us between 9th and 11th. I was a bit keen predicting us as finishing 6th. But to be fair, if we had even a half decent run in November and December when we only got 8 points out of a possible 27, we would have been right in there.
As it stands, we will probably end up around 12 points off playoffs. We smashed Brighton both at their place (2-0) and ours (although they got a 98th minute equaliser at ours to come back to 3-3). We played Reading off the park at ours and theirs (winning 4-1 and ours but losing 3-2 christ knows how at theirs - them scoring a late winner). We smashed Derby 4-0. Forest 3-1 at theirs. Villa 3-0 - they were confused. Leeds 2-0 - they were chasing shadows. Basically, our inconsistency has let us down. But we’ve been playing great football the last three months. And we have a really young side. I think the average age is around 23 years if not younger.
I think 9th is a fair position .. but we would love to sneak that 8h spot just to p!ss off moneybags Norwich.
CC: By both goals and expected goals you have one of the best attacks in the league. Unfortunately you are also near the bottom in defense. Is the poor defence a product of the attack? Are you attacking all out leaving yourself open in the back, or are the defensive issues due to something else?
Beesotted: When we reached the playoffs two seasons ago, we had exactly the same problem. We played open expansive football which made us exposed at the back. We were great playing sides like Norwich but when it came to playing tight teams like Boro, they had us every time - beating us 6 times in two seasons.
We tried to make amends this season and started off very tight. But we ended playing some very turgid games. Since the end of January with the arrival of Jota back from Spain (you remember him - the one who scored not one but TWO last minute goals against Fulham a few seasons ago. I think we’ll be singing about him at the weekend) and the addition of Canos and Jozefzoon to the squad .. and Rico Henry finally recovering from his year long injury - we have gone attack crazy. Pace. Wingers. Pottiness. We have taken the Kevin Keegan vindaloo approach to football - “We’re gonna score one more than you”
The stat is we’ve scored the highest number of goals in 2017 with 44 goals. Fulham aren’t far behind with 42.
Saying that, many of our defensive problems have come down to unforced errors. This is down to experience. If we can learn to cut these out (and it’s been looking better as of late), the we will be a real force to reckon with net season when we lay you again.
CC: Brentford doesn't have a lot to play for. They can't get relegated, they can't go up. The game is away from home. Will the promise of keeping Fulham from making the playoffs and possibly going back up be enough to motivate the players for this one? How much would the fans love it if Brentford could be the team that keeps Fulham from going up?
Beesotted: For the last three seasons, we have been singing #BeesUpFulhamDown. The first was when we got promoted from Division 1 and Fulham were relegated to The Championship. The second and third were when Brentford finished above their illustrious West London rivals. The season, Fulham may have the temporary thrill of finishing (for the first time in a good while) higher than Brentford whilst playing in the same division. But if by any chance Brentford could put a dent in Fulham’s playoff hopes, there could be a surprise repeat of #BeesUpFulhamDown for the fourth season in a row.
Now that would be nice.
CC: Predicted result?
Beesotted: It’s going to be one of our toughest games of the season. It chokes me to say it but Fulham were one of the best sides to come to Griffin Park this season. But this match will be different gravy. We won’t lie down and die like we did that day. We have the enthusiasm of Sergi Canos and Jota. The unpredictability of Jozefzoon. The leadership of Harlee Dean. The unbelievable workrate and goals of Vibe. The midfield marshalling of Woods. The flair of Colin and Henry on the defensive flanks.
On paper it should be 5-5.
I predict a 1-1 draw. But naturally, I’m hoping for a repeat of the 4-1 result of a few seasons ago.