We Are Off Again! – 13/9/14

The International break is finally over and the season resumes for Brentford this afternoon with a keenly awaited home match against Brighton & Hove Albion.

They have reached the Championship Playoffs for the last two seasons and will provide tough opposition, but it is crucial that we concentrate solely on the eleven players on the pitch, and not on the reputation and tradition of the club itself.

As it was, it is only just over three years since we last played Brighton in the First Division and if I remember correctly, we lost a tight and closely fought game by a late Karleigh Osborne own goal.

Richard Lee made one of his trademark penalty saves and we came close to scoring on several occasions too.

There is no reason why we cannot pick up our first home win of the season tomorrow in what is certain to be a decent game of football between two teams who both get the ball down and play.

Hopefully Stuart Dallas will be fit to play and Moses Odubajo and Tommy Smith have both benefited from their fortnight’s break and should have recovered from their niggling injuries.

Sam Saunders too, is finally on the mend and back in light training.

He is probably still light years away from playing, but it will be a real boost to have him back with the main group of players as he is such a bubbly and positive influence.

Hopefully he will make a full recovery, as he has worked so hard over the past couple of years and really deserves the chance to play in the Championship.

Scott Hogan will, of course, be out for probably the entire season after his cruciate surgery earlier this week, but we might well get our first look at the exciting Portuguese striker Betinho, who will have benefited from the chance to bed in with his team mates and begin to understand the way in which we play.

From the footage I have seen he looks like a mouth watering addition to our squad.

I suspect he will start tomorrow’s game on the bench with Andre Gray playing as a lone striker.

His confidence will have been boosted by the excellently taken goal he scored up at Rotherham and he is still looking for his first competitive goal at Griffin Park.

How wonderful it would be if Andre were to break his duck tomorrow.

He is improving with every game and is becoming a formidable player who I would expect to score at least ten goals for us this season.

I do still have my doubts as to whether we will score enough goals, create sufficient chances, or, indeed, get enough players into the opposition penalty area given the style of play we currently employ, which I believe is better suited to our counter attacking approach in away games.

At home the onus is on us to take the game to our opponents and maybe there will come a time when we decide that we need to play two strikers together and try and develop a partnership between Gray and Betinho.

The other major decision that Mark Warburton will have to make is to decide upon his centre back partnership.

Tony Craig had done nothing wrong until his costly aberration against Birmingham City but equally, Harlee Dean has since seized his opportunity and played exceptionally well.

I really do not envy the manager the decision he will have to make but my money will be on Harlee keeping the shirt for the time being.

This will also be the first game we will have played at home since the departure of Adam Forshaw.

I am still bitterly disappointed that he did not decide to stick with us until at least January and we will certainly miss his influence, ability and movement.

As one door closes, another one opens, and it is now up to Jota and Jon Toral to step up to the plate and prove that they are capable and ready to fill the Forshaw-sized hole in our midfield.

The early signs are promising, but Our Three Amigos have a crucial role to play for us, as they all have the ability on the ball to open up opposition defences.

We must be patient though and not expect too much too soon.

Marcos Tebar, the third cog of the Spanish triumvirate, has made it clear that he is still trying to adjust to the physical requirements of playing in England and of the necessity to spend so much time in the gym rather than on the training field.

His performances in the friendly games were exceptional, but he was given time on the ball and since the start of the helter-skelter of the Championship campaign, he has found things far more difficult.

His time will, I am sure, come soon.

There will certainly be a massive Iberian presence on the pitch tomorrow and the Bees will need to keep a close watch on Joao Teixeira.

The Portuguese midfielder had an unsuccessful spell on loan at Griffin Park in the early part of last season, but has already scored twice in three starts since joining Brighton last month.

Mark Warburton is wary of the threat posed by the talented twenty-one year-old ahead of the clash with the Seagulls.

Joao is a very talented boy. 

He can dominate games and has the ability to unlock defences, which is being proven now.

He has that randomness about him. He likes to find pockets of space and has everything he needs to get to the highest level.

We have been suitably warned and our visitors will carry other threats for us to worry about, in particular the dangerous Sam Baldock, but hopefully we will be able to cope.

At the other end of the pitch David Stockdale will present a formidable barrier, but wouldn’t it be just great to score a few past a former Fulham goalkeeper?

Let’s just hope that we can repeat the four-nil score lines from two fairly recent matches between the two teams, and a goal of the quality of the hooked volley that Big Ben Burgess scored back in 2002, or being awarded three penalty kicks, as was the case in 2003, would certainly not come amiss!

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