Huddersfield arrive at Griffin Park as a changed team following the arrival of the Cowley brothers at the club.
The Terriers, relegated from the Premier League in May, had continued their poor top flight form into their Championship return and manager Jan Siewert paid for it with his job before the end of August.
Caretaker-manager Mark Hudson could not stem the tide of defeats and nor could Danny and Nicky Cowley when they took over during the September international break.
At the time, Town were second bottom of the table with one point from their six matches in a 1-1 draw at QPR. Two defeats in the Cowleys’ first two games in charge made it seven successive losses in all competitions for the club.
However, they had led 2-1 at West Brom in the second of those matches, before losing 4-2, to hint at better things to come.
And so it proved as they stopped the rot with a 1-1 draw against Millwall and then, in the same week, followed up with back-to-back wins at Stoke (1-0) and over Hull (3-0) to really get off and running.
Draws at Blackburn (2-2) and with Middlesbrough (0-0) followed, before a 2-1 win over Barnsley last Saturday stretched their unbeaten league run to six games and took them out of the relegation zone.
This had all been a far cry from their last Championship season in 2016/17 when Huddersfield were serious promotion contenders and went up to the Premier League for the first time in their history by beating Reading 4-3 on penalties in the play-off final after a goalless draw.
They finished 16th in their debut season in the Premier League – four points clear of the drop zone – but last term was different and they came bottom on 16 points, 20 adrift of safety.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
Danny Cowley and his brother Nicky as assistant, has moved carefully up the leagues during their managerial careers.
They started at non-league Concord Rangers in the Essex Senior Football League, winning three promotions in six seasons to take the club into the National League South.
From there they moved on to National League side Braintree, who they led to third in the league – the club’s highest-ever finish – and defeat in the play-off final to Grimsby.
That summer – 2016 – they gave up teaching and took charge of fellow National League outfit Lincoln.
In their first season at Sincil Bank, they took the Red Imps back into the Football League and also made them the first non-League side to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals in more than a century.
In their second campaign they won the EFL Trophy and lost in the League Two play-off semi-finals, and last season they were crowned League Two champions to return the club to the third tier for the first time in 20 years.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
Brentford have met Huddersfield six times in the Championship, with each side winning on three occasions.
The first game, in December 2014, finished 2-1 to the Terriers in West Yorkshire. Sean Scannell gave them an early lead and a Jake Bidwell own goal after the break doubled the advantage before Jonathan Douglas replied for us.
The Tuesday night return three months later saw the Bees run out comfortable 4-1 winners. A Chris Long double, either side of Harry Bunn’s reply, put us in control and Alex Pritchard and Jon Toral put the seal on the win late on.
There were goals galore the following season with six of them in each game as we did the double over the Terriers.
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The Griffin Park game on the Saturday before Christmas saw us put four past them again, although this time we ended up winning 4-2.
We were 3-0 up at the break through Sergi Canos, Lasse Vibe and Alan Judge. Joe Lolley pulled one back right at the start of the second half, but a Judge penalty restored our two-goal advantage, before Kyle Dempsey hit a late reply.
In the return – on the last day of the season – we earned an extraordinary 5-1 away win. Canos put us ahead in the first minute before a second half goalfest. Jamie Paterson equalised five minutes after the break but a quickfire double from Scott Hogan and a strike from Vibe put us 4-1 up before John Swift hit the fifth in the 88th minute.
Strangely, we faced each other on the first day of the following season and Huddersfield did the double over us on their way to promotion, as the consecutive matches did not result in consecutive Brentford wins.
Elias Kachunga put the Terriers ahead five minutes into the second half, but substitute Nico Yennaris levelled for us 13 minutes from time. Huddersfield immediately threw on Kasey Palmer, and he hit the winner 60 seconds later, as we fell to a 2-1 defeat.
Rajiv van La Parra hit the only goal of the Griffin Park return in March midway through the first half to give Town a 1-0 win.
The victory left Huddersfield third in the table, six points behind top two Newcastle and Brighton, while we slipped down to 14th after not scoring for the first time in 12 Championship games.
Only three Brentford players named in the matchday 18 that day, less than three years ago, remain at the club. Rico Henry, who started, Sergi Canos, who came on midway through the second half, and Josh Clarke, who was an unused substitute.
BBC Leeds sports editor Jonathan Buchan looks at the impact the Cowley brothers have made since their arrival at Huddersfield, what had gone wrong previously and the style of football Bees fans can expect to see from Saturday’s visitors.
Q – What have the Cowley brothers done to turn things round so quickly since their arrival?
A – Positivity. As simple as that. If you listen to their pre-game press conferences they talk a lot about ‘the process’ which has ultimately been getting back to basics and making the players realise that they can get points. A horrendous year or so which resulted in defeats week after week was always going to have a mental impact on players, so rebuilding their confidence has been key.
The best example could be Juninho Bacuna, who was allowed a few extra days away to visit his baby back in the Netherlands, and since then has started finding the back of the net.
Q – What had gone wrong under Jan Siewert – was the start to the season just a hangover from last season or something more than that?
A – Jan’s appointment was a surprise one in some way at the time, but also not a surprise in many ways. The club wanted to follow on from the success under David Wagner with a similar mould coach. The problem being Wagner was exceptional and had a squad which bought into his ideas, and that over time he shaped.
Jan didn’t have that opportunity to rebuild so worked with what he had, plus a couple of additions and many losses. The hangover was certainly a factor and the mentally beaten up squad was always going to need another new face if it was to stop the rot.
Q – What were the expectations at the start of the season – promotion push, mid-table or relegation battle and have the Cowleys’ arrival revised those?
A – I think a lot of fans were realistic with their expectations. Some hoped for a flirt with the play-offs, some expected it. Most knew that stopping the slide was ultimately job number one, and this hasn’t been achieved just yet.
Q – What transfer business – in and out – did Town do over the summer?
A -Their biggest signing was actually made last January. Karlan Grant. 12 goals in 27 games, eight this season shows what a real capture he is. They lost some key men too, Aaron Mooy being a huge departure along with the likes of Philip Billing and the long-serving Tommy Smith.
Q – What style of football should Brentford fans expect to see from the Terriers – has this changed under the Cowleys?
A – It isn’t pretty at times, but it is seemingly effective at getting results. They have firmed up at the back with three clean sheets in their last five games, but have still conceded some sloppy goals trying to play it out from the back.
Q – Which players should we watch out for?
A – Grant is lively especially when cutting in from the left and with the experience of Fraizer Campbell they have started to link up well at times up top.
Q – Finally can you give me a possible Town starting line-up and formation?
A – Speaking before the weekly press conference I am not sure on injuries, but possibly the same as the last team line-up will be the same…maybe with Chalobah back in for Bacuna.
Grabara, Elphick, Simpson, Schindler, Brown, Hogg, Chalobah, O’Brien, Kachunga, Grant, Campbell.
BEESOTTED SCORE PREDICTIONS
Some of the Beesotted crew have given me their score predictions for Saturday’s game.
3-0 Bees – Resurgent Brentford break down a stubborn Huddersfield system. Watkins, Benrahma and Mbeumo on the scoresheet. Cham de Silva
1-0 Bees Compact Cowleys stifle and frustrate for 75 until their shape is finally pulled apart. Kamo winner teed up by Rico placed low from the edge. Four in a row for Frank. David Anderson
2-1 Bees Late goal from Terriers but comfortable for Bees. Gerry the cabbie
1-0 Bees A stubborn Huddersfield side frustrate the Bees for long periods but patience pays off with a winner late on. Damo
2-1 Bees Late October’s run of good form kicks off November on a winning start, important for keeping a winning mentality going. Liberal Nick
PUBS IN BRENTFORD AND TRAVEL NEWS
For Huddersfield fans coming to Griffin Park for the final time, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming and away-fan-friendly (as it should be). As you are probably well aware, Brentford is well known for its four pubs – one on each corner of the ground. 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 and the newly-opened and renamed The Brook pub – which has jumped on the craft beer bandwagon – are the other options.
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) & 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.
The ‘Northfields run’ makes a much better pub crawl route than South Ealing – getting off at Northfields station, turning left and stopping off at The Plough (2 min walk), The Lord Nelson (10 min walk from The Plough) & The Globe (1 min walk from The Nelson) en-route before ending up at The Griffin (8 min walk from The Globe) by the away turnstiles. There’s also a relatively new tiny microbrewery pub in Northfields called The Owl and The Pussycat (Northfields Ave) – right turn out of the station away from the ground as opposed to left.
If you decide to get off at South Ealing station, we’ve heard a few people pop into Roddy’s Bar. Whereas The Ealing Park Tavern (back in the day, the infamous Penny Flyer) is fairly busy now that they seem to have lifted their “no football fan” policy.
If you like your craft beer, another fairly new pub worth checking out is The Black Dog Beer House, formerly The Albany, on Albany Road, which is fairly busy before and after the match. There is a pub right by Brentford mainline station referred to as … the Pub by Brentford station.
For real ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman (Ealing Road) can probably hold 15 of you at a push. The Brewery Tap (Catherine Wheel Road) is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super-adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit One Over the Ait (Kew Bridge Road) – a spacious boozer right next to Kew Bridge, and across from the site of the Bees’ new stadium at Lionel Road. This pub is situated on the location of the now-demolished Oxford & Cambridge pub where Brentford Football Club was founded in 1889.
There is also The Express Tavern (Kew Bridge Road) – an ale pub with a retro feel. If you sit in the garden, you can see Brentford’s new stadium towering over you. There are a load more pubs in the river in Kew if that takes your fancy – just take a walk down Strand On The Green. A quick Google search and you’ll find them all.
There are many, many more too if you have a look around. Parking near the stadium is a no-no but is pretty easy in the streets north of Griffin Park on the other side of the A4 Great West Rd via Ealing Road or Windmill Road. Make sure you look our for the parking signs which change from area to area.
Getting to Brentford from town – many fans get the tube to Waterloo (Northern, Jubilee lines) or Vauxhall (Victoria Line) then take the Overground train to Brentford.
The reality is the tube is easier and quicker (and cheaper). It’s 35 minutes to South Ealing or Northfields stations from King’s Cross or Euston (even less from Paddington) on the Piccadilly Line and then 15 minutes walk to Griffin Park from there (4 mins on the bus) – more if you take the Northfields to Brentford
If you’re feeling lazy you could take the E2 bus from outside Northfields station (turn LEFT outside the station) to either outside The Globe pub (3 stops – serves The Lord Nelson too) or Brentford FC (4 stops – 5 minutes).
If you get off at South Ealing, you can get the 65 from the bus stop across the road – right outside the station.
You can check out Transport for London’s guide to travel on the Tube and Overground.