It seems surreal that the play-off semi-final between Brentford and Swansea was just over three months ago. Would you say there was a high level of disappointment following the defeat? Or was there a sense of achievement, having reached the top six in Steve Cooper’s first season in charge?
There was definitely a mix of both emotions. Once you're in the play-offs, the ultimate aim is to win, no matter who you come up against. Let's be honest - of the teams in the top six, Brentford were probably playing the best football, even though they lost the last couple of games of the season. That front three was special and Swansea always knew it was going to be an incredibly tough two-legged tie. After finishing in the top six in the manner they did, there was probably more onus on the likes of Fulham and Brentford to do the business, as opposed to Swansea and Cardiff. Then again, to lead 1-0 after the first leg, with Brentford going a man down, there was probably an expectation that they should've done a bit better in that second leg. Ultimately, a really poor first half proved costly and it was a shame for Swansea because when they did attack Brentford, they looked like scoring and set up a tense finish when Rhian Brewster scored late on, but the damage was already done by then. There was a lot of emotional disappointment at not getting over the line, but it was still a good achievement, with what Steve Cooper was given to work with, to even get into the top six in the first place.
There doesn’t appear to have been any real hangover, despite the quick turnaround, with just one defeat in the opening nine league games. Can you summarise their start?
The first block of fixtures were really gritty. There's been a massive overhaul in the squad, with lot of key players from last season - the likes of Mike van der Hoorn, Conor Gallagher, Ben Wilmot and Brewster - having moved on, meaning there's lot of fresh blood this time around. Morgan Gibbs-White and Jamal Lowe are two of them and it's a real shame that Gibbs-White has suffered an injury that will keep him out until January because he started the season like a house on fire, as did Swansea after taking 10 points from the first 12 on offer. Since then it's been a little bit tougher, with the first defeat of the season coming against Huddersfield where, in truth, they actually could have won the game. They created lots of chances but just couldn't put the ball in the net and Huddersfield were efficient at the other end of the pitch. Then came back-to-back draws with Coventry and Bristol City; they were probably fortunate to get a point against Coventry but very unfortunate to not win against Bristol City after Nahki Wells' late penalty. All in all, it's been a very solid start and if they can hover around that top six for most of the season, like they did last time, they've got a chance of another play-off finish.
Having been a long-term target of several Premier League clubs, centre-back Joe Rodon finally departed to join Tottenham before the transfer window closed. How much will he be missed at the Liberty Stadium?
He's a massive loss. From a football perspective, I think people always expected him to go, whether it was this summer, January or next summer. The fans are are not impressed with the sum - £11 million plus add-ons - that Tottenham paid for him and from a playing perspective, he's an enormous loss because he's a top, top player at this level and you could already see - even at 23-years-old - that he was someone ready to make the step up into the Premier League. On a personal level, it's a fantastic move for him and one he thoroughly deserves, but it just means the onus is on other players like Marc Guehi and Ben Cabango to shine.
The last few times you’ve spoken to the official matchday programme, you’ve selected Andre Ayew, but which player should Brentford fans be keeping an eye on this Tuesday?
In attack, I'd certainly have to stick with Ayew because, with Gibbs-White injured, they lack creativity in the final third at times. Against Coventry they didn't really create too many clear cut chances and against Bristol City, when they did get into the final third, they were a little bit wasteful and that's where Gibbs-White was excellent because he could unlock defences. Futher back, Jake Bidwell has been a real threat at left wing-back this season. At the time of writing, he has three assists to his name and his first goal for the club, too. The role seems to suit him and he's a real outlet on the left.
How is Cooper likely to set up his side at the Brentford Community Stadium?
It's probably going to be a back three again, so either a 3-4-3 or a 3-5-2 and something like this: Woodman, Cabango, Bennett, Guehi, Roberts, Smith, Fulton, Grimes, Bidwell, Ayew, Lowe.
Brentford have had the rub of the green in recent times, winning three of the last four meetings. What’s your score prediction this time around?
I fancy Swansea to get something from it this time. Last season, I think Brentford outclassed Swansea in both league games, particularly the one at the Liberty Stadium. I'll go with a score draw - and I think I've predicted this before - but I'll go for 1-1.
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