Category Archives: Brentford

Wanted man: a profile on james tarkowski

As the bids pour in from West Ham United for Burnley centre-half James Tarkowski, what better time than to profile the centre-half, who could end up fetching a hefty fee this summer, with a release clause apparently set an eye-watering £50 million.

A 27 year old Tarkowski may be no spring chicken, but unlike many top flight footballers his rise to prominence came rather later in his career than most.

Now a mainstay in Sean Dyche’s solid Burnley XI, it is safe to say Tarkowski earned his stripes before making it in the big time.

Early Life

Born in Manchester and with Polish family blood, hence the surname, Tarkowski joined the academy at Blackburn Rovers before his release at the age of 14 at his own request.

Following a spell of toughening up in adult football in the North West Counties league for Maine Road, the no nonsense defender was signed by Oldham Athletic when he left school on a two-year scholarship, and was handed a professional contract in 2011 at Boundary Park.

The now Burnley man’s first taste of pro senior football came on  22 January 2011 when he appeared as a second half substitute for the Latics.

Lower League Sensation

Tawkowski went on to make 89 appearances for Oldham in all competitions, but in truth he was showing signs of a far greater level than the club could offer.

Despite this, Oldham attempted to keep their man by offering him a new contract, before a then League One Brentford came calling in 2014. Soon-after the Tic was a Bee after the two clubs agreed an undisclosed fee and the centre-half put pen to paper on a three and a half year deal.

After playing a bit-part role in Brentford’s promotion to the Championship, it was in the second tier of English football when the Englishman began to show his true potential.

His form across his 57 Championship outings in two seasons brought the attention of multiple clubs, with Sean Dyche’s Burnley ultimately being the lucky side to secure his signature.

On 1 February 2016, Tarkowski signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with a promotion chasing Clarets side for another undisclosed fee.

In truth the defender hasn’t always been first choice at Turf Moor, suffering a watching brief for large portions of his early time at the club, until the departure of Michael Keane to Everton opened up a position in the heart of the Burnley defence, Tarkowski has never looked back.

Since 2017/18 he has played 103 Premier League matches, including appearing in each of Burnley’s 38 games last term, underlining his new found importance to Dyche’s side. No wonder the rough speaking manager is desperate to keep hold of his man.

England Honours

Having been eligible to play for Poland through his grandfather, On 15 March 2018, Tarkowski was named in the England squad for friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy, making his debut on 27 March at Wembley Stadium starting in a 1-1 draw with the Italians.

A man of currently only two caps, there is no doubt more will come should he continue his outstanding form in the future, wherever he plies his trade.

Where Next?

With reported major interest from West Ham, including two rejected bids to date, and with Leicester City seemingly monitoring the situation, where next for James Tarkowski? If anywhere.

Whilst there is no doubt his form and levels of consistency make him worthy of a move to perhaps the slightly upper echelons of the Premier League, £50 million seems a little extortionate, although for for £10 million less you’re getting half the player Harry Maguire is, and the 27 year old Burnley man certainly isn’t that.

The West Ham link seems a strange one, not because David Moyes’ squad wouldn’t benefit from the centre back, because they would. More because it’s somewhat of a sideways, arguably backwards move for him. Despite the perceived size of the clubs, the claret and blue of Burnley finished a full six places higher than the claret and blue of West Ham last term.

It could easily be argued the Leicester switch is a more desirable, viable and perhaps suitable one. A team who certainly threatened the top four for much of the season, have Europa League football, and will compete in the domestic trophies, is perhaps whereabouts Tarkowski should be aiming.

Ready For The Elite?

TalkSport host Ally McCoist did recently question why some of the big boys in the top flight weren’t making their enquiries, however a crack at the very elite levels may just be one tiny step too far for the twice capped England man.

That said Tarkowski did make the WhoScored.com European team of the season a line-up is based purely on statistics as Burnley kept the same number of clean sheets as champions Liverpool in 2019/20, largely down to that man leading the defence.

Brentford meet Fulham in 170 million pound encounter

Following 48 Championship matches, for West London rivals Brentford and Fulham it comes down to one 90-minute game to determine the success or failure of their season. 

For Fulham and Scott Parker it is a chance to bounce straight back up, while for Brentford it is an opportunity for the Bees to play in the top-flight for the first time in 70 years.

Brentford’s season

This season was always going to be an emotional one for the Bees as it was going to be the final one at Griffin Park, which has been their home for 116 years.

Indeed, this campaign has certainly proved to be an eventful one for Tom Frank’s side. The first half of the season started off slowly but they did manage to secure an impressive 7-0 win over Luton Town at the end of November and they did also beat their play-off final opponents at Griffin Park back in December 1-0 thanks to a Bryan Mbeumo goal.

It was the Bee’s Championship restart form that ultimately proved the catalyst for their promotion charge.  They once again managed to beat Fulham, this time 2-0 thanks to their Algerian superstar, Said Benrahma. They followed that result up with an impressive 1-0 win over Slavin Bilic’s West Brom, thanks to a goal from their striker, Ollie Watkins, who has managed 26 goals in all competitions this campaign and will be much sort after by Premier League clubs if Brentford do not go up this time around.

A further five victories in a row over Reading, Wigan, Charlton, Derby and Preston followed, which sparked talk not just a play-off spot but of automatic promotion.  Tom Frank’s side, however, would suffer defeat in their final two matches against Stoke City and Barnsley, which ultimately ensured that they had to make do with a third place finish and a spot in the Play-Offs.

The Play-Offs for the Bee’s fans certainly strike both excitement and trepidation into their hearts.

One hard luck story in particular comes to mind for the West-London club took place seven years ago when they missed a late penalty against Doncaster Rovers in the 90thminute before Rovers would then break upfield to score and go up as League One Champions.  Further heartbreak in the League One Play-off final at Wembley was to follow as Brentford lost 2-1 against Yeovil Town.

It has been, however, a case of so far so good for Tom Frank’s side as they managed to overcome Steve Cooper’s Swansea City team.  Having lost the first leg 1-0 thanks to an Andre Ayew goal, the second leg and last game at Griffin Park saw a dramatic turnaround inspired by Ollie Watkins, who levelled the tie in the 11thminute of the match.

A header from Emiliano Marcondes followed which gave the London side the lead on the night and on aggregate before a volley from Mbeumo gave the hosts a two-goal cushion.  On loan Rhian Brewster managed to pull a goal back for the Welsh side 12 minutes from time to produce a grand stand finish but the visitors ultimately were unable to find that all important goal to take the game to extra time.

Fulham’s Season

For manager Scott Parker’s first season in charge of Fulham the task was simple, bounce straight back up.  Easier said that done, the Cottagers, however, set about this in impressive fashion.  Although they started off with an opening day 1-0 loss to Barnsley, they managed to produce strong league performances particularly in November when they won four and lost just once.

The lockdown, however, did not come at a good time for the London club as they had just come off two straight wins against promotion rivals Swansea City and Preston and secured a 1-1 draw at Bristol City.

Indeed, the restart subsequently witnessed the Cottagers loose against Brentford and Leeds United before recapturing some of their form from November by winning against the likes of Nottingham Forest and Cardiff City and they also emerged on the right end of a 5-3 score line against Sheffield Wednesday thanks to two goals each from Neekaens Kebano and top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic.

That result ensured that they would feature in the play-offs and following a 1-1 draw with Wigan they knew they would be up against Welsh side Cardiff City in the Semi-finals.

The Cottagers secured a crucial 2-0 victory in the first leg thanks to a superb individual effort from midfielder Josh Onomah and just before the end Kebano curled in a wonderful free kick.

The second-leg at Craven Cottage saw Fulham ultimately progress to the final at Wembley despite a 2-1 loss and additionally they had to do it without their main man, Mitrovic.  The Welsh side got off to the dream start and they were able to demonstrate their impressive ability from set pieces. A powerful header from Curtis Nelson made it 1-0 before just 30 seconds later Kebano was able to convert an Anthony Knockaert cross.

Cardiff’s Lee Tomlin restored his side’s advantage on the night just after half time and ensured a tense 40 minutes for The Whites. Parker’s team, however, were able to hold out to ensure that they made it to Wembley for the second time in three years.

Indeed, the Whites certainly have fond recent memories when it comes to the Championship play-offs having beat Aston Villa in the 2018 play-off final 1-0 thanks to a goal from their captain, Tom Cairney.

Team news

Brentford have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the Play-Off Final.

Fulham’s top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic has managed to overcome a hamstring strain, which kept him out of the semi-final victory over Cardiff. While Harry Arter and Ivan Cavaleiro will also be available meaning that Parker will have a fully fit squad to choose from.

How to watch

The match will be shown live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football and is scheduled for a 7:45pm kick-off on Tuesday 4th August. Coverage begins from 7pm.  The match will take place behind closed doors at Wembley Stadium.

Prediction

Only four and half miles separate the sides and only goal difference divided them in the regular season. Tom Frank’s Bees, however, have held the edge over Fulham in their two league encounters this campaign and fancy them to get the job done at Wembley.

 Score Prediction: Brentford 2-1 Fulham

 

Night of drama in Championship as Bees loose out to Baggies to go up

The best league in the world served up more drama on the final round of matches in the Championship on Wednesday evening.

Before kick off there was plenty of issues still to be decided.  Who would be joining Leeds United in the Premiership?  Who could possibly squeeze into the play-offs? Finally which three sides would be playing in League One next season?

West Brom Manager Slaven Bilic had to suffer 96 minutes of unbearable tension before the Baggies were guaranteed Premiership football next season.

After a two-year absence, they are back in the big time but they were pushed all the way by a resilient QPR side. It was the Londoners who took the lead through Ryan Manning, but West Brom hit back to lead 2-1 before Eberechi Eze levelled for Rangers just over the hour mark to leave the Baggies facing an anxious end to their league campaign.

When the final whistle went, West Brom players waited on the pitch to hear what was happening at Griffin Park. When news came through that Brentford had lost, wild scenes erupted around the Hawthorns as West Brom were confirmed as runners up.

You have to feel sorry for Brentford, who up until the last two results had looked the side likely to join Leeds in the top flight of English Football next season.

However, their surprising defeat to Stoke City at the weekend and last night’s shock 2-1 loss to Barnsley has cost them dearly. It will be play-offs for Thomas Frank’s vibrant side. For Barnsley, thanks to Clarke Oduor’s stoppage time winner, it meant that they had left the bottom three, thanks to Wigan Athletic’s 12-point deduction.

Fulham will have to go through the tough grind of the play-offs after a 1-1 draw against Wigan at the DW Stadium.

The draw meant that the Cottagers finished in fourth place in the table, two points outside second place West Brom.

Before last night’s action there would have been very few people who would have bet on both Welsh sides getting to the play-offs. Following an incredible night of action, however, saw both Cardiff and Swansea book their play-off dates with Nottingham Forest agonisingly missing out.

Cardiff relegated Hull City at the Cardiff City Stadium by securing a 3-0 win, while down the M4 Swansea were doing their best to gate crash the play-off mix by heavily beating Reading 4-1.

At the start of the evening, The Swans had to overcome a five-goal swing with Forest. The Welsh side did their bit, so it was down to what Forest could do against Stoke City at the City Ground.

Forest, in the top six for most of the season, capitulated 4-1 against Stoke and missed out on the play-offs. Swansea pipping the East Midland side on goal difference by a mere one goal.

Leeds celebrated being crowned champions  by hammering Charlton Athletic 4-0 at Elland Road. A result that sent Lee Bowyer’s side down to League One.

Luton Town survived a nervy night and escaped relegation after beating Blackburn Rovers 3-2 at Kenilworth Road.

In other matches, Middlesbrough’s impressive form under Neil Warnock continued with a 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough, while Millwall ended their campaign on a high with a 4-1 victory against Huddersfield, with Derby County winning at Birmingham 3-1.

Championship play-offs

Swansea City vs Brentford first leg Sunday 26th July second leg Wednesday 29th July.

Cardiff City vs Fulham first leg Monday 27th July second leg Thursday 30th July

Final Tuesday 4th August

Plenty to play for in the Championship on midweek Wednesday

For the first time ever the final round of fixtures in the Championship will be completed midweek on a Wednesday evening.

Although Leeds United have been confirmed as champions, there is still a scrap for the one other automatic promotion spot.

West Brom, Brentford and their London rivals Fulham are the three sides in contention for the one place available.

The Baggies go into the final game only a point clear of Brentford and Fulham a further point behind.

On paper it looks likely that all three sides could win their final match, but as we know on the final day of the regular season there is always many surprises.

Brentford and Fulham will be praying that fellow London side QPR will be able to do them a favour by winning at The Hawthornes. West Brom’s form has slipped of late after not winning for three games. Despite a 4-3 victory against Millwall, Rangers form after lockdown has been poor with the club winning just twice in their last eight games.

Brentford, heading in to their final game looked the likely side who would go up with Leeds after a scintillating run of form which has seen the Bees win eight games in a row before suffering a setback with a 1-0 defeat against Stoke at the weekend.

The visitors to Griffin park are Barnsley who start the day one of the bottom of the table and two points from safety. The Tykes travel to London on the back of a fine victory at the weekend over Nottingham Forest. They know on Saturday they must win and hope other results go their way for them to be playing Championship football again next season.

Fulham make the long trip to Wigan on Wednesday and will be facing a resurgent Wigan side who are unbeaten in their last four matches. The Latics received  news this week that the EFL have confirmed that Wigan will have their twelve point deduction handed out after Wednesday nights final round of matches- provided the Latics appeal against the decision, due to be heard before 27th July, isn’t upheld.

In terms of the play-off picture it is much clearer with Forest  already guaranteed a play-off spot ,baring a 5 goal swing with Swansea,  either Cardiff or Swansea will join them .

Cardiff entertain Hull City at the Cardiff City Stadium with Swansea facing the trip to the Madjeski Stadium to face Reading.

As it stands The Swans will have to beat Reading and hope struggling Hull can beat Cardiff. A tough ask for the Tigers who are bottom of the table. However, if they could pull of a shock it would put pressure of the other sides facing the drop along with Barnsley.  Both Luton and Charlton are the two sides in most trouble, with Middlesbrough and Birmingham virtually safe.

The Hatters are at home to Blackburn Rovers, whilst Charlton travel to Leeds. Luton have hit good form of late with the Hatters unbeaten in their last four including a massive victory over Hull City on Saturday.

Charlton travel up to Yorkshire without a win in their last six games and won’t enjoy playing the newly crowned champions.

So, plenty for most teams to play for in the most competitive league in the world. Come around 9.30 on Wednesday evening we will have a clearer picture, with plenty of nails being chewed by nervous fans around the country.

West Brom vs Fulham- Preview

High flying West Brom host fellow promotion chasers Fulham tonight, looking to solidify their place in the automatic promotion spots with Brentford closing in.

The Baggies are now just three points ahead of Brentford, after they only drew against Blackburn at the weekend and Brentford defeated Derby.

Their next opponents Fulham are also hot on their heels, as they look to secure a quick fire return to the Premier League after they suffered relegation last season.

Fulham’s 2-0 win against Cardiff, coupled with West Brom dropping points, means that Scott Parker’s men are fourth, five points behind the Baggies, but with a chance to close the gap to just two points and put real pressure on West Brom with victory tomorrow night at the Hawthorns.

The sides last met in September at Craven Cottage, when Anthony Knockaert’s stunning looping effort was cancelled out by a late header from Ajayi.

West Brom have certainly kicked on since then, joining leaders Leeds as the only other side to occupy an automatic promotion place this season, although that is under threat with three games left to play.

Slaven Bilic’s men have had mixed results since the restart, winning three, drawing two and losing one, (a significant 1-0 defeat to Brentford) allowing other teams to make up ground on them.

Fulham’s comeback from the enforced break was initially disastrous as they suffered two damaging losses against Leeds and Brentford.

Scott Parker’s men have improved since then however, winning their last four games on the bounce, keeping three clean sheets in the process.

West Brom will have to contend with the absence of first choice left back Kieran Gibbs, who is still out after suffering a hamstring injury against Hull last weekend. Bilic hopes he will return for the final two games of the season.

He joins Nathan Ferguson on the treatment table as West Brom’s two injury concerns. Hal Robson-Kanu, Grady Diangana and Rekeem Harper all in contention to start, whilst Ahmed Hegazi is back from suspension for the Baggies.

Fulham captain Tom Cairney is still a doubt for the visitors, having missed the last two games with a knock. Stefan Johansen, Ivan Cavaleiro and Neeskens Kebano are pushing for starts after impressing off the bench in the win against Cardiff.

It is set to be a mouthwatering game between two evenly matched teams, and you can watch it live on Sky Sports, with kick off at 5pm.