Fulham are one of many Championship teams who have been inconsistent this season, but are one of only two sides, the other being QPR, who have won more away than home games so far.
They played in the opening match of the 2016/17 campaign – beating Newcastle 1-0 – and with a 2-1 win at Preston, two draws and a 1-0 victory at Blackburn, they ended August second in the table behind Huddersfield.
It was then that their inconsistent form kicked in.
They failed to win any of their five league games in September – losing at home to Birmingham (1-0) and Bristol City (4-0), drawing with Burton at the Cottage and also earning a point from each of their away matches at Wigan and Nottingham Forest.
October started in similar vein with a 2-1 home defeat by QPR in the season’s first west London derby, before they bounced back with a 4-2 win at Barnsley.
After being held to a 2-2 draw by Norwich, they lost 1-0 at Aston Villa before producing one of the results of the season six days ago by hammering Huddersfield 5-0.
One of the goals against the Terriers was a penalty – and this continued an amazing sequence of spot-kicks at Craven Cottage this season.
In the Birmingham game, the visitors were awarded two and both were taken by our former striker Clayton Donaldson. The first was saved by another ex-Bee in David Button, but Donaldson scored the second to wrap up the points.
Then in the QPR game, Fulham were given two spot-kicks but Tom Cairney’s was saved before Sone Aluko hit the post with his effort.
And against Norwich, the Cottagers gave away two first half penalties – both of which were scored by Graham Dorrans.
Fulham only have one Championship ever-present this season – goalkeeper David Button.
The 27-year-old made the short journey across west London this summer after three years with us, during which he barely missed a game.
Not only did he play 42 games in our League One promotion season but he was ever-present in the Championship in each of the past two seasons.
David began his career with Spurs, but failed to make a league appearance for them – instead being loaned out to no fewer than 11 clubs before joining Charlton permanently in 2012. One year later he moved to Griffin Park.
Fulham are in their third successive season in the Championship after their 13-year spell in the Premier League ended in 2014.
They mostly finished in the bottom half of the table during their top flight stay, although they did have four seasons when they came between seventh and ninth and in 2010 reached the Europa League final, where they lost 2-1 to Atletico Madrid after extra-time.
WHO’S IN CHARGE?
Slavisa Jokanovic was named as Fulham manager just after Christmas last year – nearly two months after they had sacked their previous boss Kit Symons.
The former Chelsea player led Watford into the Premier League in 2014/15 but left the club after contract talks could not be resolved.
He started last season managing Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv before moving to the Cottage.
He has managed in six different countries having also been in charge of Partizan (Serbia), Muangthong United (Thailand), Levski Sofia (Bulgaria) and Hercules (Spain).
Jokanovic played for eight clubs, with Deportivo La Coruna among them, while he won 64 caps for Yugoslavia/FR Yugoslavia.
LAST SEASON’S MEETINGS
Brentford took four points from Fulham last season – but it could so easily have been six but for a rogue linesman’s flag.
In Dean Smith’s second game in charge of the Bees, we took the lead in our December trip to the Cottage with an early Alan Judge penalty but the teams went in level at half-time after a James Tarkowski own goal. Moussa Dembele put Fulham ahead for the first time midway through the second half but Jack O’Connell equalised with his only Brentford goal.
We thought we’d won it when Jota repeated his habit of finding the net late on against the Cottagers, but his effort was ruled out for a dubious offside decision and the match finished 2-2.
By the time of the April return game, our last home match of the season, Scott Hogan was back in action and he scored twice in an emphatic 3-0 win.
All the goals came in the first half – a cheeky Sam Saunders chip in the fifth minute setting us on our way with Hogan doubling the lead two minutes later and wrapping up the game five minutes before the interval.
WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT US
BBC Radio London commentator Emma Jones analyses Fulham’s season and reveals why she loves visiting Griffin Park as she looks forward to her first-ever Brentford-Fulham match.
Q How do you see Fulham doing this season?
A Who knows?! They started so well and were unbeaten in August, but then didn’t win in September. They go into this game on the back of that 5-0 win against Huddersfield that appeared to come out of nowhere.
The early talk of a possible play-off place seems to have stopped. But I certainly don’t think they will be in the position they have been in for the last few seasons, which is looking worrying down the table rather than optimistically up it.
Q What memories do you have – good or bad – of previous trips to Brentford?
A They haven’t met each other too many times in the recent past – so this will be the first time I have seen the two teams play each other. Brentford have a pretty good record in recent meetings though, so that will no doubt fill them with confidence.
Q Is there anything you particularly like, or dislike, about visiting TW8?
A Griffin Park was one of the first grounds I ever went to as a BBC reporter, so I have particular fondness for it because of that. It is a great, old-fashioned ground and can generate a great atmosphere. I have been there so many times – but one match that particularly sticks in my mind for some reason is the late 3-2 win against MK Dons in December 2012. It was a match that seemed to have everything – including a last-minute winner from Clayton Donaldson.
Q Which Bees players will Fulham be most wary of?
A You don’t have to look much further than Scott Hogan at the moment. I know it has been a few matches since he last scored. But maybe he has been storing them up for Fulham!
Q Who should Bees fans look out for on the Fulham side – any of the new signings or people from last season’s team?
A Slavisa Jokanovic has made so many signings this season, that I think he has yet to find his best 11. But it looks like striker Chris Martin, who is on loan from Derby, has found his scoring boots. The Huddersfield result may have been a blip – or might indicate that several of the new additions are starting to find their feet at Fulham.
Of the old guard, even in his mid-30s, Scott Parker can still be effective in midfield, if he plays, as can Tom Cairney. And a player who the Brentford fans don’t need any introduction to, David Button, will no doubt be hoping to add to the clean sheet he kept against Huddersfield. I imagine he will also be keen to make amends after his mistake meant Fulham’s unbeaten away run ended at Aston Villa.
Fulham played a 4-2-3-1 formation in last weekend’s 5-0 demolition of Huddersfield.
As mentioned earlier, David Button continued his ever-present run in goal.
He played behind a defence consisting of another ex-Bee in former sprinter Ryan Fredericks (brief loan spell in 2012) at right-back, summer signing Scott Malone (ex-Cardiff) at left-back and Chelsea loanee Tomas Kalas and Ragnar Sigurdsson, who played against England in Euro 2016, in central defence.
Norway international and another summer arrival Stefan Johansen (ex-Celtic) and Kevin McDonald (ex-Wolves) sat in front of the back four and in front of them were Tom Cairney (ex-Blackburn) on the right, another Chelsea loanee Lucas Piazon on the left and close season signing Sone Aluko (ex-Hull) in the middle.
Up front was Chris Martin (on a season-long loan from Derby), who has scored four goals in his last four games to become Fulham’s top scorer so far.
Among the substitutes were captain and former England international midfielder Scott Parker, USA international defender Tim Ream (ex-Bolton), Togo international striker Floyd Ayite – another to join the club in the summer, 16-year-old Ryan Sessegnon, who became the youngest player to score in a Championship match when he found the net against Cardiff in August, and ex-Oldham striker Matt Smith.
PUBS IN BRENTFORD
For Fulham fans coming to the game, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming.
There are now only three pubs around the ground, following the closure of the Royal Oak.
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 and is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal is the other option.
Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) …. The Globe (Windmill Rd) is the Beesotted pre-match pub. This boozer & The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) are both incredibly friendly and cosy away-friendly pubs and about 1 min walk from each other .. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’.
The Plough (Northfields Ave) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields (it’s a much better pub crawl route getting off at Northfields than South Ealing) 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.
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 Road or Windmill Road.
You can check out Transport for London’s guide to travel on the tube and Overground here.