Dean Smith previews Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup trip to Chelsea
Brentford Head Coach Dean Smith doesn’t believe his side will be overawed by taking on the Premier League leaders Chelsea in the Fourth Round of the Emirates FA Cup this weekend. The Bees head to Stamford Bridge on Saturday for a West London derby against Antonio Conte’s Blues who currently lead the league by eight points. Despite the wealth of talent at Chelsea’s disposal, Dean has backed his players to cope with the occasion and give a good account of themselves at The Bridge.
“We know that it is going to be a tough game but it is one that we are looking forward to,” said Dean, speaking to Bees Player ahead of the match. “We know the pool of talent that they have but we will be going all-out to win the game. You only have to look at who could play, like Willian and Michy Batshuayi who cost £65 million combined. The group of players that I have got are honest, hard-working and will look forward to the game. We are quite used to these sort of games: we played Newcastle United a couple of weeks ago and there are big clubs like Aston Villa, Brighton and Hove Albion, Derby County, and Sheffield Wednesday in the league. Every week it is a tough game and we are getting used to playing games like this. It is not going to be a shock although they have done a fantastic job this season.”
Tickets for this weekend’s match sold out almost a week ago with Bees fans taking just two days to snap up their allocation of 5,897 tickets. Having already seen his side win at Queens Park Rangers, Dean is aiming to complete the second-leg of a West London derby hat-trick and send those travelling fans home happy on Saturday.
“It only took our fans two days to sell out the 6,000 tickets so we know that there is going to be great support there,” said Dean. “I’m told that it’s the first time we have played all three West London teams away from home in a season. We’ve already won at QPR so hopefully we can win at Chelsea and then Fulham later on in the season. It is as tough a draw as you could get, the current leaders of the land away from home, but it is one that we are excited for as well.”
There has been plenty of speculation around the future of Brentford’s top scorer Scott Hogan in recent weeks with the striker missing the last two matches against Newcastle United and Wigan Athletic. Dean revealed that the frontman is available for selection this Saturday and said that if teams are interested in the services of the 14-goal striker they must match The Bees valuation.
“Scott is available for selection,” said Dean. “He has trained all week as he did last week but it will be my decision whether he is starting, on the bench, or not involved. We made it abundantly clear at the end of the game last week that we are not going to get affected by phone calls and that my decision about whether he plays or not will be final. We have had offers from different clubs for Scott but all of them haven’t met the valuation. We keep our business strictly private and we will say no to people if we don’t think the value has been met. Then it is up to them to come up with a deal that does meet ours.”
The January transfer window closes next Tuesday at 11pm, after which time teams will only be able to add free agents until the end of the season. With five days to run, Dean wasn’t to be drawn on The Bees transfer targets but did admit that negotiations behind the scenes were on-going.
“I can confirm that we have been in negotiations with Florian Jozefzoon but we will keep things private until the deal is done,” said Dean. “At the moment it is not done so we are still waiting on that. Sam Saunders left last week so it is a case of one out and one in where we can. We will try and get that deal but if we can’t then we will move on to another target. We have not discussed Chuba Akpom. We have regular recruitment meetings with a number of players on our lists but he is not one that has been discussed at length.”