For the second successive home game, Brentford will be coming up against the Premier League leaders.
Three weeks ago it was Liverpool, but this Saturday it is European champions Chelsea visiting the Brentford Community Stadium for a west London derby in another televised 5.30pm kick-off.
The Blues head the Premier League table by a point from Jurgen Klopp’s side after five wins and a draw in their first seven games, in which they have only conceded three goals.
They started the campaign with back-to-back wins over Crystal Palace (3-0) and at Arsenal (2-0), before holding Liverpool to a 1-1 draw at Anfield.
Thomas Tuchel’s side then overcame both Aston Villa (at home) and Spurs (away) 3-0 before suffering their first defeat of the season – 1-0 to Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.
They went into the international break on the back of a 3-1 defeat of Southampton.
In the Champions League group stages, they have beaten Zenit 1-0 and lost 1-0 to Juventus.
And in the Carabao Cup they will face Southampton the week after next, after beating Aston Villa 4-3 on penalties following a 1-1 draw.
Chelsea have won a string of honours over the years, both domestically and in European football.
They have been crowned League champions six times (five of those being in the Premier League), have lifted the FA Cup eight times and the League Cup five times.
The Blues have also won the Champions League twice – beating Bayern Munich 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the final in 2012, and again last season with a 1-0 win over Manchester City.
They have also been Europa League champions twice and won two Cup Winners’ Cups.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard as Chelsea manager in January.
Thomas has twice taken over from Jurgen Klopp as a boss – firstly at Mainz in 2009 and then at Borussia Dortmund six years later.
He then moved to Paris St Germain, where he won the league title in successive seasons and also guided the club to a Champions League final.
Thomas’s playing career was cut short by injury at the age of only 25 and he became a youth coach and was then in charge of FC Augsburg’s reserve team, before taking the Mainz job.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
Despite being such near neighbours, Brentford and Chelsea have rarely met in competitive games over the years.
In fact, as with our previous visitors Liverpool, we have only played 10 League fixtures, although we have been drawn together three times in the FA Cup – twice in the last decade.
Our first meeting in the competition came at Griffin Park in the third round in 1949/50, when we were in the Second Division (now Championship) and Chelsea were in the top flight. And it was the visitors who went through 1-0 thanks to an early goal from Jimmy Bowie.
We were drawn at home to the Blues again in the fourth round in 2012/13 when we were in League One and we nearly pulled off a shock victory.
Marcello Trotta gave us the lead just before half-time, only for Oscar to level after the break. Harry Forrester put us 2-1 up with a 73rd-minute penalty, after a foul on substitute Tom Adeyemi, but Fernando Torres ruined our dreams with a late equaliser as it finished 2-2.
In the Stamford Bridge replay, we held out until the 54th minute before Juan Mata gave Chelsea the lead, and then further goals from Oscar, Frank Lampard and John Terry completed a 4-0 win for the hosts.
It was the same scoreline when we again met in the fourth round in 2016/17, with Chelsea being drawn at home this time.
Willian and Pedro had the Blues 2-0 up after only 21 minutes, and Chelsea struck twice more in the last 21 minutes through Branislav Ivanovic, in his farewell appearance for the club, and Michy Batshuayi, from the penalty spot.
We’ve only won four of our 10 league meetings, including doing the double in 1938/39, have drawn one and lost five.
Our past league results – all in the top flight with Brentford score first – are:
1935/36 – (H) W 2-1 (A) L 1-2
1936/37 – (H) W 1-0 (A) L 1-2
1937/38 – (H) D 1-1 (A) L 1-2
1938/39 – (H) W 1-0 (A) W 3-1
1946/47 – (H) L 0-2 (A) L 2-3
DID YOU KNOW?
The attendance of 56,810 for the Bees’ defeat at Stamford Bridge in October 1937 was the highest to watch a Brentford league match until earlier this month, when 59,889 saw us beat West Ham at the London Stadium.
Q – What has been the secret to Chelsea’s superb start to the season?
A – The secret to the start is probably a combination of factors including both momentum from the positive end to last season and the boost from the arrival of new players, especially Romelu Lukaku. That victory in the Champions League final means that the group feel that they are winners, and even though some of the early season performances didn’t live up to the head coach’s expectations they had a knack of getting the three points.
It also brings an air of awe with it, and while teams may want to grab the scalp of the champions of Europe it can sometimes put a lot of pressure on the opponents. They have also maintained their defensive solidity, and opponents have found them tough to break down. That provides a very solid foundation on which to build.
Q – Twelve different Chelsea players have scored in the league this season – how important is that flexibility to their style of play?
A – Chelsea are keen to utilise players from all over the pitch to get involved in scoring and have the squad with technical ability to do that. It forces the opposition to be wary of danger from all over the park, and that is a tough concept to deal with. Not having a reliance on one or two goalscorers is often seen as a strength, forwards are still seen as an important source of goals, especially when things get a little tight or challenging, and confidence could then be a key. There appears to be a culture of collectiveness, with the team taking responsibility for what they achieve.
Q – Why has Thomas Tuchel improved Chelsea’s fortunes since taking over as manager?
A – I think the players immediately bought into what he wanted them to do and he appears to be a real “players” manager with the squad warming to him. He has a clearly defined structure that he wants the team to apply and it seems that his ability to communicate his message is very strong.
He cuts an impressive figure – not just with what he has achieved before, but in the way he conducts himself in the public glare. I get the impression that the players have great connection with the manager and trust him to provide them with the tools and tactics to lift more silverware.
Q – How would you assess their summer transfer business?
A – Noticeably there were too many new faces arriving at the Cobham training ground and the one big signing was an old face. But Romelu Lukaku has been seen as a missing piece in the jigsaw with what he offers in that central striking role. He provides a presence combined with his hugely impressive skillset and ability to bag goals. It also helped that he hit the ground running, and although the goals have been a little more scarce in the last few games, his presence is still important.
As for outgoings, well Tuchel had already assessed who he wanted to work with to move the squad forward. The fee received for Kurt Zouma looks good business, but I wonder if Marc Guehi is one who may be seen as one who could have been held on to for a bit longer to benefit from his continued development.
Q – Do you think Chelsea’s priority this season is to retain the Champions League, win the Premier League, or both?
A – I think that Chelsea set out each season with the aim to win as much as they possibly can. But I get the impression that while retaining the Champions League would be lovely, the domestic title is a big draw. Thomas Tuchel has talked about the challenges of bridging the gap to the top, and I’m sure it’s a challenge that he would love to succeed in.
The Champions League is still a knockout competition in the end, and the trophy can be lifted with a handful of positive evenings. The Premier League is a true test of the quality and staying power of a squad, and of the two I think a return to Stamford Bridge of the Premier League title would be a slightly more pleasing objective.
Q – You have commentated at many west London derbies – what are you expecting from this one?
A – Derby days are different and have that special edge. This one is the first in the League since the 1940s, so has been long in the waiting. It will have an extra edge to the atmosphere, and with the darkening evening skies provoking a need for the floodlights I’m expecting the atmosphere to be crackling. The Bees should be confident going into the game and should certainly not have any fear, and they have already shown they are ready to go toe-to-toe with any opponent.
Chelsea will be favourites, but Tuchel will know the challenge his side faces. A few extra tasty tackles, some real game-changers on show and the potential for being a classic. I sat in the Braemar Road stand with my then seven-year-old son when the sides met in the FA Cup in 2013 and that was a fantastic afternoon, his face was a real picture. But to see the same side now on an equal League status makes this one mouthwatering for me.
Q – Who are the key men to watch out for in the Blues side?
A – The record signing Romelu Lukaku is an obvious one to consider, he has the ability to score goals but also the presence to allow others to chip in to. Elsewhere an appearance of Mason Mount can raise expectations, but there are plenty of options in the middle of the pitch. Timo Werner may also be one to watch – having scored a couple of goals for Germany on Monday – so confidence is high. Be wary of the wing-backs mind, especially Ben Chilwell, and there’s some power in a back three.
Q – Finally, can you give me an idea of a probable Chelsea line-up and formation please?
A – Mendy
Chalobah Christensen Rudiger
Azpilicueta Kovacic Jorginho Chilwell
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, there are various ways of following the game.
TV – The match is being shown live on Sky Sports, with coverage starting at 5.00.
iFollow – If you want Brentford commentary, iFollow audio coverage is available via monthly or seasonal passes. Coverage starts half an hour before kick-off and is advert-free and on Saturday, Mark Burridge and Jonathan Douglas are your commentators.
PUBS IN BRENTFORD AND TRAVEL NEWS
For Chelsea fans coming to the Brentford 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 matchday 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
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 a bus (237/267) to Kew Bridge.
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
Travel on Saturday is going to be a nightmare.
Because of planned engineering works, there will be no trains stopping at Kew Bridge, Brentford or Chiswick stations.
Gunnersbury station will be closed for an extended period both before and after the match.
The closest tube stations, from which you then need to walk or take a bus, are South Ealing, Action Town, Chiswick Park, Turnham Green, Kew Gardens and Richmond, as well as South Acton Overground station.
To make things even harder, the M4 is closed between junction 4B (for the M25) and junction 3 for Hayes.
More details can be found here.
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, 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.