Bournemouth have found things tough going on their return to the Premier League and go into the weekend just a point above the relegation zone.
Things certainly haven’t been dull on the south coast so far.
After a 2-0 win over Aston Villa on the opening day, three successive defeats without scoring against Manchester City, Arsenal and then Liverpool, where they were hammered 9-0, led to the sacking of promotion-winning manager Scott Parker.
Interim replacement Gary O’Neil steadied the ship – picking up 13 points from the next 11 games and taking the side into the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.
O’Neil was made permanent boss during the World Cup break, but since then the Cherries have lost five successive matches – three in the Premier League and one in each of the cups, including a 4-2 home defeat by Burnley in the FA Cup third round last Saturday.
Bournemouth’s first Premier League stay lasted five years and was the first time they had reached the top flight in their history.
They had a best finish of ninth in the 2016/17 season, but finished in the bottom half of the table in their other four campaigns – being relegated by a single point in 2019/20.
The Cherries have spent most of their league career in the third tier – although they did have a three-season stay in the second tier from 1987 to 1990 and a couple of two-season spells from 2013-15 and 2020-22.
They also won the first-ever Associate Members Cup, which became the Freight Rover Trophy, Johnstone’s Paint Trophy etc, in 1984, winning the final 2-1 at Hull, in the only year it was played outside Wembley.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
As mentioned earlier, Gary O’Neil took his first managerial role earlier this season.
His first coaching job was as assistant manager for Liverpool’s under-23s in August 2020, before joining the Cherries the following February, where he worked as part of Jonathan Woodgate’s backroom staff.
As a player, he made more than 500 appearances as a midfielder for Portsmouth, Middlesbrough, West Ham, QPR, Norwich, Bristol City and Bolton. He also won nine England under-21 caps.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
Brentford and Bournemouth have played each other more than 100 times over the years – but this is the first season we have been in the top flight together.
Most of our meetings have been in the third tier, but we have also met in all three cup competitions and for two seasons in the Championship.
The first one was our first campaign at that level for 22 years with our first away game after promotion being at Dean Court in August 2014, and we slipped to a 1-0 defeat. The only goal was scored by Junior Stanislas in the 72nd minute, while Andre Gray hit the bar for us in the first half.
The return game in February happened just after the news broke that Bees manager Mark Warburton would be leaving the club at the end of the season.
And Brentford turned in one of their best performances of the campaign as they beat the Cherries 3-1.
Jonathan Douglas gave us a ninth-minute lead after Alex Pritchard took advantage of hesitancy by Yann Kermorgant, but Marc Pugh levelled on the half-hour mark after a pass deflected off Toumani Diagouraga into his path.
Pritchard restored our lead in first-half stoppage-time direct from a free-kick, and then set up substitute Chris Long to seal the victory right at the end of the second half.
The victory denied Bournemouth the chance to go back to the top of the table and left us one point outside the play-off zone.
We also met four times in the 2020/21 season – twice in the regular campaign and also in the two-legged play-off semi-final.
The first two matches were played behind closed doors and the Bees did the double.
We won at the then-Brentford Community Stadium just after Christmas 2020 as goals from Henrik Dalsgaard and Tarique Fosu cancelled out Dominic Solanke’s opener.
In the return, we overcame Pontus Jansson’s sending-off to win 1-0 thanks to a late Bryan Mbeumo goal.
Each play-off match had a limited attendance.
At Dean Court, Arnaut Danjuma scored the only goal ten minutes into the second half – and when the same player struck five minutes into the second leg, our promotion dreams looked over.
But Ivan Toney equalised on the day from the penalty spot and then ex-Bee Chris Mepham was sent off before second-half goals from Vitaly Janelt and Marcus Forss gave us a famous 3-1 victory for a 3-2 aggregate triumph and a place in the Wembley final.
Our first Premier League meeting in October ended 0-0.
BBC Radio Solent’s AFC Bournemouth commentator Kris Temple analyses the Cherries’ season, looks at the decision to appoint Gary O’Neil and discusses ex-Bees Chris Mepham and Emiliano Marcondes’s campaigns.
Q – How would you assess Bournemouth’s season so far?
A – There’s no hiding from the fact that it’s been largely pretty poor. They didn’t bring in any notable Premier League experience in the summer, and have looked short of the required quality. Marcus Tavernier from Middlesbrough (currently out injured) has been the biggest plus of those pre-season captures. Scott Parker’s sacking after the 9-0 loss at Liverpool led to a period of flux, one that you’d say they’re still in really, despite the takeover being completed, and Gary O’Neil’s permanent appointment. The Cherries solidified initially under O’Neil’s interim charge, but have found goals very difficult to come by, while looking very porous at the other end. A bad combination.
Q – The Cherries have the Premier League’s worst goals conceded record – partly because of the 9-0 defeat at Liverpool – but what else do you put it down to?
A – A few of the reasons in the above answer are a part of it, as is trying to settle down a new back four. Argentina’s Marcos Senesi came in and took a while to settle at centre-half, while captain Lloyd Kelly has just missed 11 games through injury. The biggest single problem has been defending set-pieces. I think they’re up to 13 set-piece goals against now (plus five penalties). The two against Crystal Palace recently were horrendous. Meanwhile, in the FA Cup game against Burnley last weekend, three of the four Clarets goals were down to calamitous individual errors.
Q – What was the general feeling about the decision to make Gary O’Neil permanent manager?
A – The fanbase were, and still are, divided. He did really well in his first six interim games, staying unbeaten, and tightening up defensively. He did enough, in my opinion, before the World Cup to earn a chance full-time. Most supporters’ reservations centred on previous experiments with inexperienced managers, such as Jason Tindall (now back with Eddie Howe at Newcastle) who didn’t work out at all.
They’ve not got going at all since the World Cup break though, which came at a bad time for O’Neil, off the back of two good wins in a week over Everton. The noisy keyboarders on social media want him out already, and there have been boos after recent performances. My view is that he’ll get a chance with some new signings to try and improve things.
Q – What business do you expect the Cherries to do in the January transfer window – both in and out?
A – New American Bill Foley was bold in his promises that money would be spent, on three or four top players. It’s a hard sell recruiting at the moment though, given the league position, and recent bad run. They’re shopping in the European market for some top talent from there, but might face a battle or two if other Premier League clubs are interested.
At the time of writing, Emiliano Marcondes has gone on loan to FC Nordsjælland and Jamal Lowe has been loaned to QPR, but they do have quite a few other squad players who have struggled to make an impact, including Siriki Dembele and Ben Pearson. The need to ship a few out would be more for squad harmony, and those individuals’ own progress, rather than club finances.
Q – How is ex-Bee Chris Mepham doing and how did you feel about Emiliano Marcondes’s departure?
A – Chris Mepham was having a really good season before the World Cup. He’s not always been a first choice in recent seasons, but he made the RCB position his own, and was the standout defender. Since the World Cup, he’s struggled with illness and a little injury, so we haven’t seen too much of him.
Emi Marcondes has been restricted to very little, just cup appearances mainly – and wasn’t even in the League squad most weeks. So it’s no surprise he’s gone on loan, but he’s always been very popular with Cherries fans as one who’s given his all when called on.
Q – After many League One meetings, it’s brilliant for the sides to meet in the Premier League. Which past matches stand out in your memory?
A – I’ve been covering Bournemouth for 21 years, so there’s been a few tussles with Brentford down the years! The one that I always remember is 2004 at Griffin Park, a 2-1 win for the Bees. Stephen Hunt refused to return the ball after an injury, and started running towards the Cherries’ goal with it. Bournemouth’s Neil Young booted him nearly on to the M4 and got sent off! There was a big furore, Hunt got subbed minutes later, and Cherries boss Sean O’Driscoll gave me a very angry, and difficult post-match interview!
There was another time at Griffin Park where I got locked inside, after doing post match interviews!! I had to climb out over the turnstiles!
Q -What did you make of your first visit to the Gtech Community Stadium for the play-off semi-final in 2021?
A – It’s a very smart venue, and one of a similar kind of size and spec that Bournemouth are looking to build themselves I think. The Bees fans create a great atmosphere, but I must admit that play-off semi was obviously a pretty difficult visit for all concerned with AFCB (albeit it was a great game).
Q – Finally can you give me a possible Bournemouth line-up and formation please.
A – Right-back Adam Smith is suspended for five yellows, so there’ll be at least one change from the last league game.
Right to left
STACEY MEPHAM SENESI KELLY
COOK LERMA BILLING
CHRISTIE SOLANKE ANTHONY
HOW TO FOLLOW THE GAME IF YOU CAN’T BE THERE
If you can’t get to the Brentford Community Stadium for Saturday’s sold-out 5.30pm kick-off and want Brentford commentary, audio coverage is available via the new Buzz Box, currently on a free trial.
Coverage starts half an hour before kick-off and is advert-free, with Mark Burridge and Jonathan Douglas.
There is also live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live.
TV – The match is being shown live on Sky Sports, with coverage starting at 5.00.
PUBS IN BRENTFORD AND TRAVEL NEWS
For Bournemouth fans coming to the Gtech Community Stadium for the first time, there are plenty of pub options pre and post-match and all are most welcoming and away-fan-friendly (as it should be).
The pub areas are split into two zones. There is the area around Brentford’s old Griffin Park stadium. The pubs there are still very busy on match day frequented by Bees locals before heading down the road to the stadium at Kew Bridge which is only 15 mins walk.
Then there is the area in and around the stadium in Kew Bridge.
It is possible, if you have a good early start, to savour a few pubs in and around Griffin Park and Brentford zone before heading off to the pubs in the Kew zone or even vice versa if you so fancy.
Pubs in Griffin Park/Brentford zone
When at Griffin Park, Brentford was well known for its four pubs – one on each corner of the ground. Three are still operating.
The Griffin is closest to the old away end and has always been very popular with both home and away fans and has its regulars who still make the journey down to the new stadium from there on matchday. The New Inn is on the other side which used to also be popular with away fans before the move. The Brook pub is the other option if you want to savour a pub in and around what is left of our old home. Worth a peep if you want to reminisce about old Brentford.
About five minutes’ walk away from the old ground are two pubs which are enormously popular. The Globe (Windmill Rd) is a “lively but comfortable” pub on matchday. Incredibly friendly and cosy, it has always been popular with a selection of away fans who fancied having a beer a few minutes further walk away from the ground without having to queue six persons deep. After the move to the new ground, The Globe has retained many of lot its regulars from the Griffin Park days and with screens throughout the pub and in its sheltered beer garden, it shows both Premier League and EFL football before and after each match.
Meanwhile around the corner, The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) is another incredibly friendly and cosy away-friendly pubs about one minute walk from The Globe. Again with a TV screen for live sports and a lovely beer garden, this is another pub frequented by “away fans in the know”.
The other pub worth checking out in the Griffin Park region is The Black Dog Beer House, formerly The Albany, on Albany Road, if you like your real ales.
There are plenty of other pubs in and around Brentford High Street including real ale pub Magpie and Crown (Brentford High Street) and the cosy Brewery Tap (Catherine Wheel Road) near the river.
For a Griffin Park area pub crawl before heading over to Kew we recommend the following: Take the Piccadilly line to Northfields station. Turn left and walk for 2 mins and you will come to The Plough (Northfields Ave). Then walk to The Lord Nelson (10 min walk from The Plough) & then The Globe (1 min walk from The Nelson) en-route before hitting The Griffin (8 min walk from The Globe) and then The Black Dog (2 mins from The Griffin). You can also try and do the other three pubs on the corner whilst down here if you fancy.
Then you can then either walk (15 minutes from The Globe/The Nelson and The Griffin/Black Dog ) or take a train from Brentford station (which is five minutes walk away from both The Globe/The Nelson and The Griffin/Black Dog) or a bus (237/267) to Kew Bridge.
Trains run at 24 and 54 minutes past the hour to Kew Bridge from Brentford and take 2 mins.
Pubs in the Kew Bridge zone
Right next to Kew Bridge station, you will find the Express Tavern – an ale pub with a retro feel. The pub has been refurbished in readiness for the new football season and needless to say, is popular before the match due to its close proximity to the stadium.
Across the road by the river is One Over the Ait – a spacious boozer right next to Kew Bridge. This pub is situated on the location of the now-demolished Oxford & Cambridge pub where Brentford Football Club was founded in 1889.
Across Kew Bridge and the River Thames, there are two pubs on Kew Green – the Cricketers and the Greyhound – very close to the pier where Brentford fans have embarked on their away journeys by water to F*lham, Orient, Charlton, West Ham and even Southend.
North of the river along hoity-toity Strand on the Green, you will find The Steam Packet, in an old Cafe Rouge, and The Bell. A bit further down are The City Barge and the Bulls Head – two pubs side-by-side in which you would often see Ant and Dec hanging out.
There is also The Pilot which you can get to coming out of the BACK entrance of Gunnersbury station and we believe the old John Bull pub at the front of the station has been refurbed as The Gunnersbury but we have never been there so can’t give it a 👍🏾or a 👎🏻
Transport to Brentford and Kew Bridge
The simplest on paper to get to Brentford FC from town is to get the tube to Waterloo (Northern, Jubilee lines) or Vauxhall (Victoria Line) and then take the Overground train to Kew Bridge, which is right by the stadium. Brentford is one stop further on if you are on an ‘Original Griffin Park Pub’ mission.
With trains from Waterloo being only twice an hour (22 and 52) and taking 28 minutes, we normally recommend people jump on the tube from Kings Cross or Euston and head to Northfields or South Ealing on the Piccadilly Line as it is quicker (including the time getting across London and waiting at Waterloo) and trains are more frequent.
It is only 40 mins max station by tube to station meaning you could be in a Brentford pub within an hour of embarking your train at Kings Cross, Euston or Liverpool Street.
The other station option is Gunnersbury. You can walk to the stadium from Gunnersbury tube station (District line) in 25 minutes or take a bus (H91, 237, 267, 110), but note that it is closed for entry for one hour after the match.
For the Brentford/Griffin Park pubs you can get the Piccadilly line tube to Northfields station from King’s Cross or Euston (35 minutes) then walk down to The Plough, The Globe, The Lord Nelson and The Griffin and other pubs from there.
The new stadium is around 25 minutes’ walk from South Ealing station – if you don’t fancy Gunnersbury – or you can get on the 65 bus from across the road which will drop you almost outside in 15 minutes.
You can also pick up the 65 bus from Ealing Broadway (district and central line) which will take you to the new stadium in 25 minutes.
You can check out Transport for London’s guide to travel on the Tube and Overground.