Behind Enemy Lines: Brentford

WITH their side currently sitting 19th in the Championship table, Bees fans have every right to be slightly disappointed with their start to the season.

Brentford lost a number of important players in the summer and have won just one league game this season.

Dean Smith's side will be boosted by the news that Millwall are without two key players for their visit to Griffin Park, after both Shaun Williams and Byron Webster suffered long-term injuries.

The Lions are four points above their hosts in the current table, after an encouraging start to the season and a number of excellent performances.

Lucas Ball spoke to Bees fan and Beesotted writer Ian Westbrook this week.

Twitter: @ianwestbrook

Why do you support Brentford?

My late father took me to my first game when I was six years old. Despite going 1-0 down after only 35 seconds, we ended up beating Northampton 6-1 and I was hooked.

As well as my dad, my grandfather also came to the game. The two of them had been watching the Bees since the end of World War Two. It was their nearest league team as they lived in Staines, where I grew up. It's a real family affair for me as I now go to games with my teenage son and my brother and his kids.

What's your favourite Bees season?

The best season is between two:  1991-92 and 2013-14, as we were promoted to the second tier in each one.

I had spent my entire Bees-supporting life watching Third and Fourth Division football so when we went up in 1992 it was a dream come true.

However, when we did it again more than 20 years later in 2014, that probably topped it as I had season tickets with my kids and it has meant more in the long term as we are still in the Championship today.

What are your thoughts on Brentford's start to the season?

It's been disappointing but not overly concerning.

It's disappointing as I genuinely thought we had a chance of making the play-offs this season – something that already looks to have moved out of our reach.

But not concerning as, having attended most games, I can see that we are not playing like a side that is going to be relegated. Once we start scoring goals and stop conceding silly ones we are going to start climbing the table.

A number of key players left in the summer window – have you replaced them well?

Of the three we lost at the end of August, the only one we haven't replaced is Jota – and that is because he is one of those players you can't really replace, because he is a unique talent. It was always likely we would lose him and Harlee Dean as they were entering the last year of their contracts and hadn't signed new deals.

Club policy is always to ship out players in that situation. Harlee, who was captain last season, was one of four first choice centre-halves, and when he went we just promoted another one from the B team in Chris Mepham.

The other departure, right-back Maxime Colin, was more of a surprise as he still had a couple of years to go on his contract, although he left as Birmingham met his release clause.

However, the club had anticipated there may be an issue and signed a right-back in the summer in Henrik Dalsgaard, who has been a regular for Denmark in their recent World Cup qualifiers.

Which Bees players will be the danger men on Saturday afternoon?

It depends on who is fit. We have been deprived of some of our better attacking talent in recent weeks by injury.

Winger Sergi Canos has only played half an hour this season after getting hurt in pre-season and then again on his comeback at Aston Villa last month, while striker Lasse Vibe suffered a foot injury at Ipswich in mid-August.

There has been some social media chat that both are nearly fit again so could be in contention to play a part on Saturday and both cause problems for the opposition, though they clearly won't be match fit if they do play against Millwall.

Our best player so far this season has been summer signing from Exeter, Ollie Watkins, last season's EFL young player of the year. He has been playing wide on the left but cuts in and has already scored four league goals – three in his last three games.

Also, keep an eye out for midfielder Ryan Woods, who often controls matches.

Which Millwall men will Brentford have to be wary of?

I'm sure George Saville will be up for Saturday's match. He was part of our 2013-14 promotion-winning squad during a season-long loan deal from Chelsea and seems to have settled in well with you.

Lee Gregory is another one we will be aware of, given that he scored against us in both games when we last played you in 2014-15.

What's your predicted formation and line-up for Brentford?

The Bees play a 4-2-3-1 formation. A lot depends on injuries but the side could be something like this:



Dalsgaard Egan or Mepham Barbet Chatzitheodoridis

Woods Yennaris

Clarke or Canos Sawyers Watkins

Maupay or Vibe

Finally, a score prediction?

I hate predicting wins as when I do, it usually inevitably leads to defeat. But we have to win a home game sooner or later – surely.

I think it'll be tight, with us to nick it: Brentford 2-1 Millwall

Graphic: @ShedCreative