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Brentford hope to leave rivals Fulham in a blur and pocket £160million prize in play-off final

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brentford hope to leave rivals fulham in a blur and pocket 160million prize in play off final

On Tuesday night, as the sun dips beneath the arch and clocks tick towards zero-hour, a familiar melody will tumble out of the Brentford dressing room.

For those final minutes before kick-off, stirring speeches will give way to Blur. Defender and in-house DJ Henrik Dalsgaard has turned Song 2 into the soundtrack to this push for the Promised Land.

‘It just gets us going a little bit,’ Dalsgaard, 31, said on Monday.

Brentford's Henrik Dalsgaard will be in control of the music in the dressing room on Tuesday

Brentford’s Henrik Dalsgaard will be in control of the music in the dressing room on Tuesday

‘The young players were playing such s*** music. They’d probably say that about my music taste as well but I completely overruled them, I told them, “I’m vice captain!”‘

On Tuesday evening, on the promotion race’s 368th day, Thomas Frank’s side will hope that unmistakeable riff ricochets off the four corners of a deserted Wembley and ushers in a glittering new era for the west London club.

After eight previous play-off failures and the long goodbye to Griffin Park, a sense of destiny has enveloped Frank’s side. The only problem? Further up the Wembley corridors, another team feel they belong in the Premier League too.

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Few clubs bounce straight back but nothing less was expected of Fulham after their scarring relegation. ‘There has been a laser focus on us,’ manager Scott Parker said. ‘The journey has been spelt out from day one.’

With this short trip to Wembley, however, Fulham will enter unfamiliar territory: in the eyes of the bookies, Parker’s side are the underdogs. 

Not that midfielder Harrison Reed believes they have anything to fear. ‘We know if we turn up on the day we can get the job done,’ he said.

The stakes could hardly be higher: it’s estimated Brentford would earn £160m and Fulham slightly less at £135m as they are still receiving parachute payments following their relegation.

And the past year would certainly suggest little separates these local rivals.

Over 46 matches, only goal difference divided them but these are two clubs operating in two different worlds.

‘I think you can say that,’ Frank said. ‘They were a Premier League club last year, they got the parachute money, they have been in the playoff final.

‘They have to go to the Premier League as soon as possible. We have been building something over years and now we are, for whatever reason, very level.’

Fulham wasted £100m en route to relegation and £22m striker Aleksandar Mitrovic — their fit-again, 26-goal talisman — is one of a number who experienced the 2018 final when they won 1-0 against Aston Villa.

Aleksandar Mitrovic is one of a number of Fulham players who featured in the 2018 final

Aleksandar Mitrovic is one of a number of Fulham players who featured in the 2018 final

‘If you have been in the arena, smelt it, and done it, of course it will help,’ said Parker.

Brentford’s success, meanwhile, is underpinned by data and built on undervalued players. They have become masters of the transfer market but have been starved of top-flight football since 1947. The closest Dalsgaard has ever got to Wembley? The nearby Ikea.

The contrast extends to the dugout. Parker, 39, is a guarded young coach whose penchant for neat football mirrors his looks: all three-piece suits and well-coiffed hair.

Then there is Frank, 46, an engaging speaker who often watches in T-shirt and trainers.

The success of Thomas Frank's side is underpinned by data and built on undervalued players

The success of Thomas Frank’s side is underpinned by data and built on undervalued players

Scott Parker is a young coach who has led Fulham to the final in his first full season in charge

Scott Parker is a young coach who has led Fulham to the final in his first full season in charge

‘I think it is Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook who wears the same clothes every single day so you don’t need to use brain capacity,’ he said. ‘I like to do that as well.’ Fashion won’t make the difference tonight. Nor will the supporters.

Both sides have matchwinners aplenty. Mitrovic won the Championship’s Golden Boot but Brentford boast their 59-goal ‘BMW’ forward line of Said Benrahma, Bryan Mbeumo and Ollie Watkins.

Instead it could come down to who deals best with the occasion. Parker has worked tirelessly to heal scars and rebuild shattered ‘foundations’. Frank, meanwhile, will hope this is where Brentford’s human touch — their ‘big secret’ — bears fruit.

‘The reason why we recruit very well is because we want good characters,’ he said. ‘It is so big for me.’

Brentford have a threatening forward-line which includes impressive striker Said Benrahma

Brentford have a threatening forward-line which includes impressive striker Said Benrahma

It helps explain why the manager is not concerned about rousing his players before kick-off. ‘Who are they playing for? Themselves, their families, the fans. I could say A,B,C,D — it doesn’t matter,’ Frank said.

‘I would love it if I can do an Al Pacino ‘Game Of Inches’ speech but I know they are ready.’

Whatever he chooses, Brentford will make time for Dalsgaard to fire up the speakers once more. Then? One final blur of action, one final tussle for the top flight.

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‘He could get a standing ovation at ANFIELD’: Robertson praises on Rashford for school meals work

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he could get a standing ovation at anfield robertson praises on rashford for school meals work

If fans have returned by January 16, when Manchester United travel to Anfield in the Premier League, Andy Robertson thinks Marcus Rashford could receive a standing ovation from the Kop.    

The striker become football’s star of lockdown when he successfully lobbied the Government to reverse its decision on ending the free school meals scheme amid the pandemic. 

Robertson himself gave a crucial donation to Glaswegian helpline Back Onside, and is setting up his own AR26 charity, aiming to help those less fortunate through football.  

Liverpool star Andy Robertson was impressed by Marcus Rashford's lockdown off-field work

Liverpool star Andy Robertson was impressed by Marcus Rashford's lockdown off-field work

Liverpool star Andy Robertson was impressed by Marcus Rashford’s lockdown off-field work

The Manchester United striker set about lobbying the Government over free school meals

The Manchester United striker set about lobbying the Government over free school meals

The Manchester United striker set about lobbying the Government over free school meals

Rashford's success leads Robertson to believe Anfield could applaud the striker when he visits

Rashford's success leads Robertson to believe Anfield could applaud the striker when he visits

Rashford’s success leads Robertson to believe Anfield could applaud the striker when he visits

Robertson was also involved in Jordan Henderson’s Players Together fund during lockdown, and was highly impressed with the work of his rivals’ front-man too.  

‘The two words that everyone’s saying (during the pandemic) are “Marcus Rashford”‘, the left-back told the Times.  

‘He made politicians overturn the decision (not to extend free school meals) because he wanted every kid to get fed. What he’s done was amazing, outstanding.

‘Once the fans are back in, Marcus Rashford could be the first Man United player to get a standing ovation here. 

Robertson made his own contributions for those struggling during lockdown in Glasgow

Robertson made his own contributions for those struggling during lockdown in Glasgow

Robertson made his own contributions for those struggling during lockdown in Glasgow 

‘He’d definitely deserve it because thousands of families are getting fed now.’ 

After applauding him Liverpool would quickly have to turn their attention to stopping Rashford when they face-off, with the Englishman stepping-up on the pitch as well as off it last season. 

Virgil van Dijk will be the principle centre-back charged with marking Rashford, but the powerful Dutchman got his season off to a rocky start last weekend.  

The former Ballon d’Or runner-up conceded three goals and was at fault for Patrick Bamford’s 30th minute equaliser in a 4-3 victory over newly-promoted Leeds United, but Robertson was keen to remind viewers of the centre-back’s world class quality.  

Virgil van Dijk had a rocky start to his Premier League season but his team-mate is backing him

Virgil van Dijk had a rocky start to his Premier League season but his team-mate is backing him

Virgil van Dijk had a rocky start to his Premier League season but his team-mate is backing him

‘When he makes a mistake everyone’s shocked and that shows how good a player he is,’ Robertson added. 

‘It’s a bit like when Lionel Messi misses a chance.

‘He has the whole package as a centre back: so strong in the air, physical, fast, good on the ball, a leader, he commands. He’s amazing to play with.’

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Edouard Mendy ‘has said his goodbyes to Rennes team-mates’ ahead of his imminent move to Chelsea

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edouard mendy has said his goodbyes to rennes team mates ahead of his imminent move to chelsea

Edouard Mendy has reportedly said his goodbyes to his Rennes team-mates ahead of his imminent move to Chelsea.

The 28-year-old has been pursued by the Blues as manager Frank Lampard wants a new goalkeeper to usurp much-maligned Kepa Arrizabalaga as his No 1.

And L’Equipe claim the player has informed the Rennes squad that the deal is set to be completed.

Rennes goalkeeper Edouard Mendy is close to completing a move to Chelsea, says his agent

Rennes goalkeeper Edouard Mendy is close to completing a move to Chelsea, says his agent

Rennes goalkeeper Edouard Mendy is close to completing a move to Chelsea, says his agent

Talks with Mendy’s club Rennes have been ongoing but according to his agent Djily Dieng a significant breakthrough has happened over the past few days.

‘The deal with Chelsea is almost done. Only the formalisation is remaining,’ he told Extra Time on Thursday afternoon as per Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano

‘It could be completed even in the next hours’.

Mendy is set to become the seventh signing in an extraordinary summer of spending for Chelsea after Sportsmail revealed at the weekend they had agreed a £25million fee with the Ligue 1 side.

The 28-year-old is set to join Chelsea in a £25m deal - as Frank Lampard looks for a new No 1

The 28-year-old is set to join Chelsea in a £25m deal - as Frank Lampard looks for a new No 1

The 28-year-old is set to join Chelsea in a £25m deal – as Frank Lampard looks for a new No 1

Mendy was initially pulled out of training on Friday after Chelsea’s bid was accepted and was subsequently left out of Rennes’ 4-2 victory against Nimes on Sunday.

Chelsea conceded 54 goals in 38 Premier League games last season and manager Frank Lampard wants Mendy to help eradicate such a poor record.

His arrival would take Chelsea’s outlay this summer beyond £250m following the purchases of Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Malang Sarr, Thiago Silva  and Kai Havertz.

Kepa Arrizabalaga is the Blues current No 1 but he is much-maligned after several mistakes

Kepa Arrizabalaga is the Blues current No 1 but he is much-maligned after several mistakes

Kepa Arrizabalaga is the Blues current No 1 but he is much-maligned after several mistakes

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12pm Arsenal transfer news LIVE: Aouar deal ‘this window’, Partey boost as Simeone calls Torreira, Raya LATEST

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12pm arsenal transfer news live aouar deal this window partey boost as simeone calls torreira raya latest

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG has committed his future to Arsenal by signing a new three-year deal at the Emirates.

And there is good news on the Gunners’ transfer pursuit of Houssem Aouar and Thomas Partey.

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