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Thomas Talks… everything clicking and going for it

Report from the post-match written press conference after Saturday's win at Chelsea

5 April 2022

Brentford came from behind to record a memorable victory over Chelsea on Saturday. The Bees fell behind early in the second half but roared back to win 4-1 on a never-to-be-forgotten West London afternoon. Vitaly Janelt got two of the goals and Christian Eriksen scored as well. Yoane Wissa came off the substitute’s bench to add the fourth.

All the goals came in a thrilling second half, but the first was almost as entertaining. Brentford dominated the early stages without finding a way through and then fell behind to a long range strike from Antonio Rüdiger at the start of the second. They levelled within seconds and never looked back, beating the team that currently hold the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA World Club Cup.

The win was Brentford's first over Chelsea since 1939. After the game, Thomas Frank spoke to the Premier League's broadcast partners before a written press conference. Jim Levack, who has covered Brentford for many years for Press Association, among others, reports on what he had to say..........

Vitaly’s upward curve

“Vitaly Janelt put in a top performance. He’s been a really good signing for us for the last two years, coming in from the second Bundesliga and stepping straight into the Championship and then to the Premier League where he’s just continued his good form.

“He’s got that rare ability to be a really good pressing player, is very good defensively and a decent passer. But he’s also got that knack of arriving in the box and running deep and scoring goals. He has four which is very impressive in any Premier League team but for a promoted side it speaks for itself.

“When we signed him, for me he was a six that could play as an eight but obviously he's played eight because we have Christian Nørgaard in the six and we know he’s got that ability to go box to box.”

Perfect timing

“We timed it perfectly to score the goals in the end where our fans were and I think that made it even more special.

“In football you work so hard, put in so many hours every day, every week, every month, every year, and a lot of times you maybe don't think you get what you deserve for all the hard work you’ve put in because you can’t control all the randomness in football. It was nice to see all that work rewarded.

“Everything clicked and we managed to be part of a team of fantastic players, staff and fans winning at Stamford Bridge against the European champions and World Club champions. But the fact it was fully deserved in an almost complete performance… that's a little bit unbelievable.”

Chelsea jitters

“Normally they defend unbelievably well, but today we managed to create plenty of opportunities and that was down to us. We actually played a very good first half as well. I think we started very well and maybe could have scored one or two.

“But what I liked most was that we were brave. We wanted to press high a lot and our equaliser came after a high press that we won. So it was a big moment for everyone connected with the club.”

Eriksen’s Bridge bonus

“I told him I was pleased he saved a goal for Brentford after his two for Denmark. It’s an ongoing fairytale and we’re obviously very pleased with what he brings to the team in terms of his ability on the ball, his calmness and the fact we can always give it to him and he will find a solution.

“I said a week or so ago that we had yet to see the best of Christian but he’s getting there now and you can see the difference in his goals and assists. The important cross against Burnley and our third that maybe killed the game off at Chelsea even though at 3-1 nothing is ever guaranteed at Stamford Bridge against the world champions.

“Christian gives us that little extra with his personality. He's not a big presence like Ivan, but he's a big presence on the ball and the way he presents himself.”

Unique group

“This is a unique group of players. In the first half we performed very well and then Rüdiger scored a goal he probably thought deserved to win the game. The fact we can bounce back after a defeat is important but to do it in a game by pressing high, being aggressive and winning it. That’s even more impressive.

“We’ve said for the whole season that the only focus we have is the next game and finishing as high as possible, and nothing has changed. Of course, those wins against Norwich and Burnley were important but in the beginning of the season and now in the last four or five games we've shown that we'd like to push as high as possible.

“I'm respectful and know everything can happen in this league, but right now I’m just very, very pleased and proud of what we achieved on Saturday. So we’ll enjoy it for 24 hours and then focus on the next game.”

Never having doubts

“When it came to Christian Eriksen I thought ‘okay, his entire body has been checked over and he didn’t have an injury like a ligament’. That and his determination to play at the World Cup meant I was never in doubt about if he could do it. I also knew his foundation physically was quite good but I didn’t know how quickly he would get up to this level, so it’s mpressive and we are very pleased. “

I like it, I like it… Toney and Bryan Mbeumo

“They are a dynamic duo and have done unbelievably well for us. Ivan could have scored goals but I think sometimes people forget how good a link up player and passer he is too. That first-time pass to Vita for his second goal was perfectly weighted.

Bryan deserves more praise for the assists but what he gives gave us and why I always play him is because I trust him, he presses aggressively high, he works very hard defensively, he runs in behind and he's also a goal threat.

“He’s hit the post seven or eight times this season which is crazy. He sometimes lacks that final third quality but he showed it at Chelsea. It’s definitely in him so hopefully he can keep that at a consistent level.”

Complete performance

“I'm just very proud of being part of Brentford with these players and staff enjoying the moment with the fans, but I’m almost more pleased that it was a deserved win and an almost complete performance because you very rarely experience that in a season. So that's a big moment for me personally.”

Going for it

“Because we performed so well in the first half, I said to the players at half time that there was something in the game for us. We agreed we weren’t settling for a draw and that we’d be brave and try to go for it. Then they scored in the top corner and I thought ‘oh no, not again’. But it was a fantastic reaction from the players.

“We’ve proved we can do it home and away and that’s impressive. We've done well to come from behind and win games this season and we've done that a few times which I think is very impressive because it's so difficult just to win a game at this level.”

Switching defensive formation

“Against Chelsea switching to a three or five at the back was genius. Next Sunday I may be an unbelievable madman but that's football, it goes up and down.

“When you play against the best teams, we need to defend well and I think the back three or back five is much more difficult to break down in a low block.”

Pivotal point in the season

“In my first full season in the Championship after we’d won 3-0 away at Swansea I got everyone together in a huddle in the dressing room because that was a very good performance. It wasn’t the first win but it came after a really tough start and was a really good performance away from home. This win feels like that.

“I got us all together in the dressing room at Chelsea too because it's not that often that the players and staff do what we did there, so celebrating those moments is very important. Not to get too big headed or over the moon, but to really celebrate it for 24 hours and then be unbelievably focused on the next game.”

Keeping Christian…

“I'm just very pleased that he's playing because that's an unbelievable story in itself, and it’s no secret that I would love him to continue with us next season. I know he’s revelling in his football and really enjoying being back but let's see what happens at the end of the season.”

… and knowing his mindset

“There are a lot of aspects that come into play in any footballer’s decision to stay at a club or leave and that would be the same for Christian.

“To be fair I know him quite well and one thing he's good at is just enjoying the moment and I think that maybe he's doing that even more right now. So I’m not thinking too much of what is going to happen in two or three months’ time.”

Bravery paying off

“We like to have the approach of trying to be brave and aggressive throughout the game and also when you're leading 1-0. Sometimes it pays off and other times it doesn't. In the home game against Watford we equalised quite late but kept pushing for the win and got it, so we like to do it as much as possible. At Chelsea it definitely paid off.”

Positive perspective

“If Chelsea go on to beat Real Madrid this week it will put this win into even more perspective. Joking apart we played the team who are current European Champions with more or less the same players that played in that final so it's not like they were missing seven or eight of their top players. It was the strongest team they put out there so that makes it very special.”

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