Brighton have made a solid start to the season and going into the weekend’s matches sit seventh in the Premier League table.
The Seagulls were unbeaten in their first four games – starting their campaign with a 2-1 win at Manchester United, drawing 0-0 at home to Newcastle, winning 2-0 at West Ham and then seeing off Leeds 1-0 at the Amex.
They suffered their first setback in a 2-1 midweek defeat at Fulham, before bouncing back to beat Leicester 5-2 and then earn a thrilling 3-3 draw at Liverpool, before losing 1-0 at home to Spurs last Saturday evening.
The Leicester game proved the final one of manager Graham Potter’s near three-and-a-half year stay at the club, as four days later he was named the Chelsea boss in succession to Thomas Tuchel.
Potter’s successor is Roberto de Zerbi, who has been in charge for the last two matches.
As well as a busy programme of Premier League fixtures before the World Cup break, he will also have a third round Carabao Cup tie at Arsenal to look forward to, after the Seagulls saw off Forest Green 3-0 in Gloucestershire in round two.
Brighton finished ninth in the Premier League last season – the best top-flight finish in their history.
Since winning promotion in 2017, they had finished 15th twice, 16th and 17th, winning nine matches every campaign, but last year recorded 12 victories.
It is now their longest-ever spell in the top flight, with their only previous stay being four seasons in the old First Division from 1979 to 1983, the same season they also reached the FA Cup final, where they were beaten 4-0 by Manchester United in a replay.
Brighton have now been at the Amex Stadium for 11 years, after moving there in 2011 following 12 years at Withdean athletics stadium. They had been forced to groundshare for two seasons at Gillingham after leaving the Goldstone Ground.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
Roberto de Zerbi was appointed as Graham Potter’s successor in the middle of September.
He began his managerial career in his native Italy with Palermo and then Benevento in Serie A before moving to another top-flight club in Sassuolo. He led them to two successive eighth-place finishes and they only missed out on qualifying for last season’s Europa Conference League on goal difference.
In the summer of 2021 he took over at Shakhtar Donetsk, leading them to victory in the Ukrainian Super Cup later that year. He left the club this July after the season was suspended because of the war.
Roberto spent most of his playing career as an attacking midfielder in Italy. He was on AC Milan’s books but never played for them, but did represent Foggia and Napoli among others. The only club he played for outside Italy was Romanian outfit CFR Cluj.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
Brighton did the double over us last season and we failed to score against them in either game.
The match here in early September was our fourth in the Premier League and our first defeat as, despite numerous chances, we slipped to a 1-0 loss – thanks to a 90th-minute goal from Leandro Trossard.
The Boxing Day return was controversially moved to an 8pm kick-off for live coverage on Sky which, with no trains or other public transport, affected fans of both teams.
Those Bees who made it down to Sussex had a disappointing night as Leandro Trossard again, and ex-Bee Neal Maupay scored in front of the away end in the first half to give the Seagulls a 2-0 win.
Those matches meant we had played the Seagulls in all four divisions.
We met in the Football League basement as recently as 1998/99, and then met in five of the next 12 seasons in the third tier.
The Seagulls were also on our fixture list in our first three seasons in the Championship.
We did the double over them in 2014/15 (3-2 at home and 1-0 away), although they gained revenge in the FA Cup third round 2-0 in Chris Hughton’s first game in charge of them.
But we had two memorable meetings in 2016/17.
We became one of only three visiting teams to win at the Amex that season, when a goal in each half from Scott Hogan wrapped up a 2-0 victory in early September.
And we shared the spoils in a thrilling 3-3 draw in the Griffin Park return.
The Bees raced into an early 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Jota and Harlee Dean and that was how it stayed until the closing 15 minutes, when two goals in four minutes from Solly March and Shane Duffy levelled the match. Konstantin Kerschbaumer thought he had won it with his first Brentford goal in the fourth minute of stoppage-time, but there was still time for Tomer Hemed to nod in a dramatic late equaliser.
BBC Radio Sussex’s Brighton and Hove Albion commentator Johnny Cantor, who you can follow on Twitter here, analyses Brighton’s managerial change, looks back at Graham Potter’s time in charge of the Seagulls, and reflects on Neal Maupay’s spell on the south coast.
Q – How much of a shock was it when Graham Potter left the club?
A – I think most BHA fans knew he would leave at some point as his stock was rising so quickly, but there was maybe a bit of surprise it came when it did six games into the season. He was widely tipped to be the next England manager but to Chelsea? That wasn’t predicted!
Q – Can you sum up his achievements in his three-and-a-half years with the Seagulls?
A – Of course he managed to secure a highest-ever position and points total but perhaps one of his biggest achievements was to do so whilst also changing the style of play from a more rigid set-up under Chris Hughton. Flexibility and versatility were the key words of his reign.
Q – In his short time in charge so far, what tweaks – if any – has Roberto De Zerbi – made to things?
A – He hasn’t changed too much but clearly wants to invite teams on more and play intricate patterns to pass through the press. High risk, high reward.
Q – Aside from the managerial change, how would you assess Brighton’s season so far?
A – Despite all the off-field changes the club has incredible stability with its owner Tony Bloom and the players remain the same, so hopes remain high.
Q – The Seagulls are now a well-established Premier League club – so what would be a successful campaign in 2022/23?
A – I don’t think after five years in PL the club see themselves as that, but another top 10 finish would be seen as success.
Q – How disappointing it was to lose ex-Bee Neal Maupay and can you sum up his time at the club?
A – I think everyone knew as he was skipping down the pecking order he might go, and Danny Welbeck has been key to the progress in 2022. Neal could frustrate at times but had an eye for a spectacular or very late goal which endeared him to the fans. Especially when it’s against the team up the road.
Q – What impact do you think the split season will have on Brighton and are a lot of players due to be away at the World Cup?
A – There are several players going such as Sanchez and Trossard. Moises Caicedo is seen as an integral player and they will want him back safely, although he is attracting a lot of interest. Kauro Mitoma looks exciting and set to feature more, so could be one to watch in Qatar.
Q – What do you remember about last season’s two Bees-Seagulls matches?
A – I think the late Trossard goal in West London was a little harsh on the Bees, but Mbeumo should have had a hat-trick. BHA fans remember the owner Tony Bloom celebrating in the away end at FT.
Q – Finally can you give me an expected Brighton formation and line-up please?
A – It could well be unchanged from the Spurs game, but a refresh may be considered with a midweek game the following Tuesday. Mitoma is pushing to start and Adam Lallana or Billy Gilmour are options to rest a midfield that has worked very hard this season for club and country.
HOW TO FOLLOW THE GAME IF YOU CAN’T BE THERE
If you can’t get to the Gtech Community Stadium for Friday’s sold-out 8pm 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, who has Karleigh Osborne alongside him on Friday.
The match is being shown live on Sky Sports, with coverage starting at 7pm.
PUBS IN BRENTFORD AND TRAVEL NEWS
For Brighton fans coming to the Gtech Community Stadium, 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 minutes 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 (still very lively but easier to get a pint)
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 two minutes.
Pubs in the Kew Bridge zone (very busy on match days)
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 and Crown. 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 rating.
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 King’s 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 minutes 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.