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Beesotted contributor Paul Harrison rounds up the week’s key stories and talking points for Brentford ahead of the Championship run-in.

WEEKEND CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW

Brentford are at home to 14th placed Wigan on Saturday afternoon. The Bees sit 3rd on 69 points, 5 points behind West Brom in 2nd.

With just 6 games to go Brentford need to win every game to finish in the automatic promotion slots whilst relying on the Baggies slipping up.

But Wigan are certainly no pushovers. They are the form team in the division, having won 5 of their last 6 all without conceding a single goal. They have carried their pre-lockdown form into the run-in, thumping Stoke 3-0 last time out.

The club appeared to have pulled away from the relegation zone, but have just this week gone into administration. With a 12 point deduction on the cards that would drop them to the foot of the table, this weekend’s visitors to Griffin Park will certainly be up for it.

Read Ian Westbrook’s extensive preview of the match here.

Josh Dasilva scores at Wigan

Josh Dasilva scoring against Wigan earlier this season

Leeds (1st) travel to Blackburn (10th). Dropping points at home to Luton on Tuesday night, Leeds weren’t able to extend their advantage and are now only 6 points ahead of the Bees. Drop points again on Saturday and Leeds will be be worrying about repeating the events of last season. Blackburn are still just about clinging onto play-off hopes – 5 points behind 6th placed Cardiff –  but are coming into this match off the back of two losses.

West Brom (2nd) host Hull (19th) on Sunday afternoon. The Baggies breathed a sigh of relief with a vital 3-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the week. But Brentford are still hot on their heels. Hull are in a relegation dogfight, currently just two points above the drop-zone. But they’ve picked up four points from their last two games; Brentford will be hoping Hull show similar levels of determination to take crucial points off of West Brom. If Brentford do beat Wigan and Hull snatch 3 points off West Brom the gap between The Bees and The Baggies shrinks to just 2 points.

The weekend’s crunch match is the East Midlands derby – in-form Derby (7th) at home to Nottingham Forest (4th). Forest are on 67pts and look assured of a play-off spot, but certainly won’t take it easy against their bitter rivals. Derby (on 60pts) have won their last five in the league and could potentially leap above Cardiff into 6th with a win. Cardiff (6th) take the short trip to Bristol City (12th). The Welsh club have looked good post-lockdown but were held to a 0-0 at home to Charlton in the week. Bristol City meanwhile have lost their last 3 and are unlikely to reach the play-offs.

Fulham (5th) will be without top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic after he was banned for three matches for a deliberately vicious elbow on Leeds’ Ben White. They host Birmingham (17th) on Saturday – the Blues are unlikely to get pulled into a relegation scrap and have looked inconsistent since the return. Fulham, like Forest, seem assured of a play-off spot. But a loss here and wins for Cardiff and Derby would put their playoff place in jeopardy.

Top half of the table with 6 games left

At the bottom Stoke (22nd) face Barnsley (23rd) in a huge game for both of their seasons. Middlesbrough (21st) will be hoping new boss Neil Warnock can lead them to a win over one of his former sides, QPR (15th), on Sunday. Huddersfield (20th) host out-of-form Preston (9th), with Luton (24th) looking to continue their good post-lockdown form at home to Reading (16th).

Bottom half of the table with 6 games left

The other two games this weekend are Charlton (18th) v Millwall (11th) on Friday night, and Swansea (8th) v Sheffield Wednesday (13th) on Sunday.

“Fingers crossed we meet Brentford again one day”

On the Beesotted pre-Wigan-match podcast, Adam from the PWU podcast put Wigan’s league season and impending 12 point deduction into perspective, saying that the most important thing is their survival as a football club.

The whole situation has come as a shock. Administrators were called in this week, just over a month after new owners took charge at the club. It has emerged today that EFL chairman Rick Parry, whilst being secretly recorded, said that the circumstances surrounding Wigan’s administration are unclear. He even pointed to rumours that it’s possibly allegedly linked to a large bet on Wigan’s relegation being made in the Philippines.

The story is developing rapidly. It’s all rather bizarre, considering that the club’s executives spent last week negotiating new player contracts, blissfully unaware of an impending administration. Wigan are likely to appeal any 12 point deduction should it happen.

On the podcast there were also discussions around how tight the league is getting, as well as plenty of reflection on Brentford’s 3-0 win at Reading in the week.

Transfer Talk

Brentford have once again been linked with Peterborough’s Ivan Toney. The English striker, who has scored 24 goals in League One this season, has supposedly had an offer for £4m turned down by an MLS club. Posh are allegedly hoping to fetch £8m for their star – a couple of million less than what they wanted for him in January.

The deal may well depend on which league Brentford are playing in next season. The Bees did make moves to sign Toney in January, and he was interested at the time. But the price was too high and the terms of the deal – with Posh insistent on him being loaned back to them until the end of the season – were too stringent.

But with the new economic climate, and Peterborough remaining in League One for next season, how much Posh can expect to get for the striker has come down dramatically.

Embed from Getty Images

The Athletic’s David Ornstein has reported that Brentford are also keen on 18-year-old Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun. He has failed to agree a new contract with the Gunners, having played zero minutes for the first team despite scoring 13 goals in 19 games for their under 23s.

The Mail Online has reported that German giants RB Leipzig are eyeing up Brentford’s head of recruitment Lee Dykes, as they look to replace their own recruitment chief Paul Mitchell who is Monaco-bound.

Brentford Masking Up

With many EFL clubs facing financially uncertain futures, thousands of Brentford fans have generously donated the value of their unused 2019-20 tickets to maintain the club’s revenue streams.

The club continue to express their gratitude – following the sending out out promo codes for matches on iFollow and club shop merchandise, season ticket holders are now being sent Brentford-branded face masks. These should be arriving in the post by July 13th at the latest.

Pubs Open Again

Saturday marks the re-opening of pubs across the country. Whilst the Wigan match (3pm KO) will only be available on iFollow, there are plenty of other matches on the screens for Bees fans going to the pubs – notably Derby v Forest at 12.30pm, and Cardiff v Bristol City at 3pm.

Pubs are putting in special measures to maintain social distancing – this includes table service, making the most of outdoor seating, and taking bookings. Many are expected to be full to their new post-lockdown capacity on Saturday afternoon.

Brentford’s next match on Sky Sports is the trip to Derby next Saturday (July 11th) at 12.30pm.