Fulham are having a tremendous season and are on course for possibly their highest-ever Premier League finish.
Going into the weekend’s matches, the Cottagers are seventh in the table on 39 points and, like Brentford, are safe in the top flight for another season.
Seventh is their best top division finish – achieved in Roy Hodgson’s first full season in charge in 2008/09.
That was in the middle of their 13-year stay in the Premier League, which ended in 2014, and they only lasted a single season on each of the two occasions on which they returned to the top flight since then.
Things are different this time though thanks to solid form and a positive goal difference both at home and away.
Of their eight Premier League defeats this season, six have been by a solitary goal, while the highlight of their 11 wins was January’s 2-1 defeat of Chelsea, which was their fourth consecutive league victory.
Fulham are still in the FA Cup, with a quarter-final tie at Manchester United later this month after wins over Hull (2-0), Sunderland (3-2 in a replay) and Leeds (2-0).
However, their Carabao Cup run ended at the first hurdle in a surprise 2-0 defeat at League Two Crawley.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
Marco Silva replaced Scott Parker at the helm at Fulham in July 2021.
He led the Cottagers to the Championship title in his first season, meaning they were the fourth Premier League team he had managed after previous spells in charge of Hull, Watford and Everton.
Marco started his managerial career in his native Portugal with Estoril, before moving on to Sporting and then going to Greece to manage Olympiacos.
He spent his playing career as a right-back in Portugal, starting at Belenenses and finishing with Estoril, for whom he made the most appearances of his career, during which he played for nine clubs.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
Monday will be Fulham’s first visit to New Griffin Park with fans present – but their second game at our new stadium.
The first was in October 2020 when we won 3-0 to reach the League Cup quarter-finals for the first time.
Marcus Forss gave us the lead in the 37th minute and a second half double from Said Benrahma – including a brilliant second which proved to be his last goal for the club – took us comfortably through.
Monday will be Fulham’s first top-flight visit, although our first-ever top division meeting was in August when the Cottagers won 3-2.
Bobby Decordova-Reid put them ahead in the first minute from close range and Joao Palhinha headed in a second, before Christian Norgaard volleyed us back into it from Bryan Mbeumo’s corner just before half-time.
Ivan Toney had two efforts disallowed before finally equalising for us from Yoane Wissa’s cutback, but Aleksandar Mitrovic had the final say – heading in a 90th-minute winner.
The meeting before that was of course the 2020 Championship play-off final which Fulham won 2-1 after extra-time at a deserted Wembley.
All the goals came in extra-time with a double by Joe Bryan proving enough for them to win promotion, despite Henrik Dalsgaard’s late consolation.
Brentford had the upper hand in the five seasons in which we met in the Championship.
We won both the 2014/15 matches – 2-1 at home (Jota in the last minute) and 4-1 at the Cottage (in front of 6,000 travelling Bees), although we did lose a second round Capital One Cup tie 1-0 at Griffin Park.
We drew 2-2 at Fulham just before Christmas the following season, before winning the return 3-0 at the end of the campaign.
In 2016/17, the Cottagers grabbed their only league win so far in this series in a televised GP enounter, as a goal in each half from Sone Aluko and Tom Cairney, in second half stoppage time, gave them a 2-0 win.
A first half penalty save by Daniel Bentley from Tom Cairney, and a stop from the follow-up, ensured the Bees drew 1-1 at Fulham at the end of April. Cairney gave them an early lead but Nico Yennaris equalised after a one-two with Konstantin Kerschbaumer.
In 2017/18, despite Neeskens Kebano putting Fulham ahead midway through the first half at GP, Sergi Canos quickly equalised and then Romaine Sawyers put us ahead shortly after half-time. Denis Odoi was then sent off before Ollie Watkins’ third sealed a 3-1 win.
Aleksander Mitrovic put Fulham ahead in the 70th minute of the late-season return, but Neal Maupay’s last-gasp equaliser earned us a point in a 1-1 draw.
We did the double in 2019/20 with Bryan Mbeumo’s 22nd-minute goal enough for us to win 1-0 in our last Griffin Park meeting just before Christmas.
The return was the first match to be postponed because of the Covid suspension – and then was the first game played after matches resumed. Goals in the last three minutes from Said Benrahma and Emiliano Marcondes gave us a 2-0 victory in a match played in the middle of June.
BBC London presenter and commentator Emma Jones analyses Fulham’s season so far, what has been different this term to previous Premier League campaigns and discusses whether Cottagers fans would prefer FA Cup glory or a European tour.
Q – How would you assess Fulham’s season so far?
A – I think it’s safe to say they’ve done far better than even the most optimistic fan would’ve realistically hoped for. After getting promoted to the Premier League, the main aim would’ve been ensuring they didn’t head straight back down – yet again. Instead the supporters are singing about going on a European tour next season. And who knows – maybe a trip to Wembley in the FA Cup ?
Q – How would you analyse the job Marco Silva has done since taking over?
A – Marco Silva knew when he got the job he’d be expected to get Fulham promoted, and he did that with matches to spare. But the question was always going to be how he would manage in the Premier League, especially as a manager with previous top flight experience, which might have left him with a point to prove.
He’s done well with new signings, and has encouraged the team to continue to play the positive, free flowing football that served them so well in the Championship – and it is clearly paying off.
Q – With Fulham, and Brentford, all but safe already, what have Fulham done differently to their last two Premier League spells, which each only lasted for a season?
A – Recruitment has been better, with players like Joao Paulinha, Andreas Pereira, Willian, Manor Solomon and Berd Leno among the impressive additions. But just as importantly the more established players – like Tim Ream, Kenny Tete, Harrison Reed- and of course Mitrovic – have looked more confident and comfortable in the Premier League.
The playing approach has also been far more positive. Put simply, they have been trying to win matches rather than trying not to lose them.
Q – How reliant is the side on Aleksandar Mitrovic for goals?
A – I don’t think he is going to manage to match the 43 goals he scored last season! But 11 goals in 19 games in the Premier League has proved many doubters wrong. However, when he has either missed matches – or hasn’t been able to score himself – others have stepped up. 13 other players have scored for Fulham already this season.
Q – What would Fulham prefer this season – to qualify for Europe or win the FA Cup?
A – Whenever I have put this sort of question to managers, the answer is often, “Why not both?” It would be an extraordinary season if that was the outcome. However, if there had to be a choice, Fulham have got recent fond memories of playing in Europe, but have never won the FA Cup. So I would imagine most fans would choose winning the Cup over qualifying for Europe
Q – What memories do you have of past Brentford-Fulham games?
A – The last match I saw between the two teams will be one I remember for a long time. I commentated on the Play-Off Final – at an empty Wembley. You probably don’t need me to remind you what happened. Many people had Brentford as their favourites to win. It was a cagey affair that went to extra time. But then Joe Bryan scored not once – but twice.
The atmosphere – and perhaps the outcome – would’ve been so different with fans there. But it was clear to see that Brentford – despite their disappointment that day – would be joining Fulham in the Premier League soon.
Q – Finally can you give me a possible line-up and formation for the Cottagers please?
A – Palhinha will be serving the first of a two-match ban for getting 10 yellow cards, so he won’t be available.
Possible line up – Leno, Tete, Diop, Ream. Robinson, Pereira, Reed, Willian, Lukic, Mitrovic, Decordova-Reid.
Solomon could be a game-changer off the bench again.
HOW TO FOLLOW THE GAME IF YOU CAN’T BE THERE
If you can’t get to the Gtech Community Stadium for Monday’s sold-out 8.00pm 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 Karleigh Osborne.
TV – The match is being shown live on Sky Sports, with coverage starting at 7.00.
PUBS IN BRENTFORD AND TRAVEL NEWS
For Fulham 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.