What a relief to get back to thinking about on-field matters after a very long week being a Bees supporter – and we couldn’t have much better opponents than Bournemouth to occupy our minds.
The Cherries are the team in the Championship we have played most in recent years – virtually entirely in League One – with matches between us in the vast majority of the seasons over the last three decades and more than 100 meetings between us overall.
Saturday though will be their first visit in English football’s second tier.
Bournemouth have set the pace in the division this season and went top when they beat Cardiff 5-3 on December 13. They stayed there until February 10 when they drew 2-2 with Derby.
Although another draw against Huddersfield (1-1) put them back on top last Saturday, Middlesbrough’s midweek point at Birmingham means the Cherries arrive here second in the table – ahead of Derby on goal difference.
Eddie Howe’s side have the best away record in the Championship this season with 30 points picked up on their travels.
They have won nine and drawn three of their 15 matches on the road with the highlights their 8-0 win at Birmingham in October, the first time the Cherries had ever scored eight in a meaningful league game, and 6-1 triumph at Blackpool just before Christmas.
Results like that have made them the top scorers in the Premier and Football Leagues with 65 goals to their credit – two ahead of both promotion rivals Watford and League One’s MK Dons.
Several players have contributed to this total with Callum Wilson on target 15 times and Yann Kermorgant and Matt Ritchie weighing in with nine apiece while Brett Pitman and Marc Pugh have each scored seven.
The match is going to be the featured game on Saturday night’s Football League Show on BBC1 – this week at 11.50pm.
WHO’S THE GAFFER?
Eddie Howe is in his second spell in charge of Bournemouth, a club where he also spent most of his playing days.
When he was first appointed in January 2009 he was the Football League’s youngest manager at the age of 31.
He helped the Cherries overcome the 17-point penalty which had been imposed at the start of the season and avoid relegation into the Conference from League Two before leading them to promotion 12 months later.
Halfway through the following season he moved to Burnley but 18 months later was back at Dean Court to steer Bournemouth into the Championship in 2014 for the first time since 1990.
Then last season he guided the Cherries to their highest-ever league position of 10th.
As a defender, he won two England under-21 caps during a 13-year career which featured two spells with Bournemouth and a brief stay at Portsmouth.
As mentioned earlier, Bournemouth have been frequent opponents in recent years – but results have not gone our way – at least in the league – for a while.
We have failed to beat the Cherries in any of our last seven encounters where there were three points at stake.
As well as losing at Dean Court in August, we drew both games in the 2012/13 season and in each of the previous two campaigns lost away and drew 1-1 at Griffin Park.
Our last league successes against them came when we did the double during the 2008/09 season on our way to winning the League Two title.
Two first half goals from Marcus Bean gave us a Boxing Day victory at GP and a strike just before the interval by Billy Clarke took the points in the Easter Monday return, despite the second half dismissal of Darren Powell for fighting with Bees team-mate Karleigh Osborne.
Our most emphatic recent win over Bournemouth however came in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in 2011 when Mike Grella scored four goals, his only ones in our colours, to lead us to a 6-0 win – with Sam Saunders and Shaleum Logan also on target.
Cherries boss Eddie Howe has told the Bournemouth Echo that he thinks the goings-on at Griffin Park this week may work in Brentford’s favour on Saturday.
He said: “We expect a tough game, regardless of what’s happening off the pitch. Brentford’s players have shown really good spirit this season and I don’t expect that to change.
“Now the statement has come out and it is final, I think that will help the situation. I think the problem was the uncertainty.
“We could be facing an even more motivated and difficult opponent than we were potentially a week ago. We need to make sure we are more motivated than them and that is our challenge.”
Howe added: “I remember playing at Griffin Park early in my career and it was a ground I visited many times after. It is a really tough place to play and a tough place to win.
“We have had some really good battles with them down the years and they have done extraordinarily well this season.
“I think our home win over them was the only game this season where we have been fortunate to get three points.”
BOURNEMOUTH SQUAD NEWS
Bournemouth have some injury and suspension problems going into the game at Griffin Park.
Ever-present midfielder Harry Arter loses his appearance record as he serves the first of a two-game suspension while fellow midfielder Eunan O’Kane and defender Billy Cargill are both out with injury.
However there could be returns for former Everton and Newcastle midfielder Dan Gosling and striker Tokelo Rantie, who played for South Africa at the Africa Cup of Nations, while midfielder Shaun MacDonald may make his first Championship start of the season.
Defender Simon Francis could also return to the side having overcome an illness which left him on the bench against Huddersfield last weekend.
Howe has hinted he may move into the loan market so there is a slight chance of a new face or two when Bournemouth arrive at Griffin Park on Saturday.
Apart from Arter, other Championship ever-presents in the side are defenders Steve Cook and Tommy Elphick while Matt Ritchie has started every match bar one, in which he came on as a substitute, and striker Callum Wilson has only missed a single fixture.
DID YOU KNOW?
When Dean Court, now officially known as the Goldsands Stadium, was completely rebuilt in 2001, the pitch was turned 90 degrees from its original angle.
The work was not completed in time for the start of the 2001/02 season so the Cherries had to play their opening few home games at nearby non-league club Dorcester Town – fixtures which included a 2-0 Brentford victory.
Pubs in Brentford
For Bournemouth fans coming down, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming – something that we found most disappointing about our trip to Bournemouth.
As is etched in common folklore , there are four pubs around the ground. The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very, very busy. The New Inn is on the other side is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal and The Royal Oak (sometimes home fans only. The only pub with bouncers on the door in Brentford) are the other two options.
Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) include … The Globe (Windmill Rd) &The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) – both incredibly friendly and cosy away-frienly pubs .. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’. Boro fans and Bees fans had one hell of a party before and after the match in these boozers (despite us losing)- and The Plough (Northfields Ave) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields before making your way down to the ground (normally stopping off at The Globe and Lord Nelson en route).
There is also a pub right by Brentford station always referred to as … the Pub by Brentford station. I guess many Muff fans will use that.
For ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman can probably hold 15 of you at a push. The Brewery Tap is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit the brand new boozer One Over the Ait right on the river – beside the bridge. There are loads more too.
A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many many more too if you have a look around.
Parking is pretty easy away from the ground going up towards and over the A4 Great West Rd (ie. North) via Ealing Rd or Windmill Rd.