Leicester’s visit in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday once again poses the question – will this will be the last cup tie at Griffin Park?
The high-flying Foxes are having another successful season and the FA Cup is just one of three fronts on which they are chasing honours.
Leicester, whose amazing Premier League title triumph in 2016 will always be remembered, are third in the table this season, three points behind Manchester City and 16 adrift of runaway leaders Liverpool.
As well as being in the FA Cup, they are also 90 minutes from Wembley in the Carabao Cup. They face the second leg of their semi-final against Dean Smith’s Aston Villa at Villa Park on Tuesday. The sides drew 1-1 in the first leg.
Leicester have the third best home record and third best away record in the Premier League this season.
At the King Power Stadium, they have won eight times, drawn twice and only lost twice, and on the road they have picked up seven victories and one draw and suffered four defeats.
Their most eye-catching result of the season was the 9-0 win at Southampton in October, which equalled the 24-year-old record for the Premier League’s biggest victory. It was the largest victory by an away side in English top-flight football and was also the Saints’ record defeat.
The Foxes’ recent history has been nothing sort of remarkable. As recently as 2008/09 they were in League One, and then after five seasons in the Championship they returned to the Premier League after a 10-year absence.
After finishing 14th in their first season back, they defied odds of 5000/1 to be crowned champions 12 months later.
Since then, they have finished 12th once and ninth twice, but this term have been firmly in the running for a Champions League place for most of the campaign.
LEICESTER IN THE FA CUP
Leicester have reached the FA Cup final four times, but have still to lift the trophy.
The first time was in 1949, when after beating us 2-0 in the quarter-finals in front of a record Griffin Park crowd of 38,678 (pictured above), they took on Wolves, but lost 3-1.
The other three occasions were all in the 1960s.
In 1961, they were beaten 2-0 by Spurs, who clinched the double as a result, two years later they lost 3-1 to Manchester United, and in 1969 were edged out 1-0 by Manchester City.
Since then, their best performances have been two semi-final appearances.
In this season’s third round, they beat Championship Wigan 2-0 with two goals in the first half – the first was an own goal and the second was scored by Harvey Barnes. Manager Brendan Rodgers made 10 changes from their previous Premier League match, with only England left-back Ben Chilwell retaining his starting place. However, it was an experienced line-up, which also featured title winners Wes Morgan and Marc Albrighton from the start and Christian Fuchs from the bench.
In Leicester’s 4-1 win over West Ham on Wednesday, the Premier League’s top scorer Jamie Vardy was forced off with an injury in the first half, following midfielder Namplays Mendy, who had been substituted earlier with a possible knee injury. He was replaced by Wilfried Ndidi, who returned to the bench less than a fortnight after minor knee surgery.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
Brendan Rodgers took charge of Leicester at the end of February last year.
In his previous Premier League job, he took Liverpool to within a whisker of the title in 2013/14. He had nearly three-and-a-half years in charge at Anfield before being sacked and after seven months out of the game, he took over at Celtic.
Rodgers led the Bhoys to two successive Scottish trebles and was on course for another when he left to join Leicester.
He started his managerial career at Watford and kept them in the Championship in 2009, before moving to Reading – but he was only there for six months before moving to Swansea.
In two years at the Liberty Stadium, Rodgers led the Swans into the Premier League via the play-offs – beating his old club Reading in the final – and then led them to a comfortable 11th-place finish in the club’s first season back in the top flight.
His success attracted the attention of Liverpool and he moved to Anfield in the summer as successor to Kenny Dalglish.
Rodgers’ playing career ended at the age of only 20 because of a knee injury.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
Brentford and Leicester have not met many times over the years and only in two seasons since the mid-1950s.
The first occasion was in the second round of the Milk Cup in 1984/85.
In the first leg at Filbert Street, Rowan Alexander gave us an early lead against the top-flight Foxes, but despite a second goal from Chris Kamara, Leicester ran out 4-2 winners. They then wrapped up a 6-2 aggregate victory with a 2-0 second leg win at Griffin Park.
Our most recent meetings came in Division One (now the Championship) in the 1992/93 season.
The newly-promoted Bees held Leicester 0-0 in mid-September, with only the crossbar denying us all three points when Detsi Kruszynski’s fierce shot crashed against it and flew away to safety.
The return in January was the start of a miserable run of results that culminated in relegation on the last day of the season.
Gary Blissett was on target for us, but two goals from Steve Thompson and another from Steve Walsh gave City a 3-1 win – and our paths haven’t crossed since.
BBC Radio Leicester’s Leicester City commentator Ian Stringer looks at the Foxes’ season so far, what Brendan Rodgers has done to revitalise the side and recalls past visits to Griffin Park with other clubs.
Q – How seriously are Leicester taking the FA Cup this season given their Premier League position and Carabao Cup semi-final spot?
Embed from Getty Images
A – Leicester City are taking the FA Cup very seriously this season. Brendan Rodgers showed Wigan lots of respect with his team selection and tactics and he’s said so publicly. There’s also a real determination to go deep into a cup the club have never won for the late chairman and his family. Khun Vichai’s loss was tragic for the club and the city and I know there’s a motivation internally to try and win a trophy in his name.
Q – What were the expectations at the start of the season – title challenge, a cup run, a combination of the two – or just a mid-table finish and no cup success?
A – Many of us in the city, including me, believed that a top four finish was possible because of how well Brendan Rodgers did in his 10 games in charge. The team only won half of those clashes but it was the manner of the performances that caught the eye.
They were slick and playing with a freedom and intensity and seemingly without fear of failing. That’s not to say they were neglectful with the ball but had the confidence to try things and back their manager to encourage that. That approach, along with some additions in the transfer window, allowed for optimism this season and so far so good.
Q – What has Brendan Rodgers done to change the club’s fortunes after the Claude Puel era?
A – He’s connected with the players on a level Claude wasn’t able to. He’s a good manager of men, a leader and an inspiring person when you speak to him. Brendan Rodgers is also a serial winner and he’s brought that approach to the King Power Stadium and it’s infectious. He’s playing to Jamie Vardy’s strengths with some very exciting young talents.
Q – How is the impact of the Foxes’ Premier League title win being felt at the club nearly four years on from what was a truly stunning achievement?
A – It was the greatest day of all of our lives, watching Leicester City lift the Premier League trophy and still sounds strange to say it; Leicester City have been Premier League champions and nothing can ever take that away, the club could drop to League Two and it wouldn’t change the reality of the fact we’ve all seen the greatest day in the club’s history.
Expectations are a difficult thing aren’t they following that achievement because it warps a sense of reality, especially given Leicester have been in second place for a lot of this season amongst England’s elite. The impact is that a few more little kids are running round in the royal blue of Leicester City rather than Liverpool or Man Utd tops, thankfully.
Q – It’s Leicester’s first visit to Griffin Park for nearly 30 years and also their last-ever visit. Do you have any memories of that previous visit in the second tier in 1993?
A – Well as a football reporter I’ve actually been to Griffin Park a few times having covered Wycombe Wanderers and MK Dons in the early days of my career. I’ve always enjoyed trips especially under the lights midweek. A fine ground but exciting times ahead with the new ground which looks magnificent. It’ll take a while to settle in and for people to find their places and rebuild that, but I hope everybody enjoys it.
Q – What style of football should Brentford fans expect to see from Leicester?
A – It’s pretty fluid, “possession with a purpose” the manager will say and he’s right. They can be devastating when they turn on the style but teams have proven this season that if they can stay in the game and frustrate then they can nullify those threats and create chances. Leicester City are beatable but you’ve got to have a plan and be brave enough to execute it regardless of the pressure you may have to absorb in the process.
Q – What do you think the Foxes starting line-up and formation will be?
A – Schmeichel, Justin, Benkovic, Evans, Fuchs, Choudhury, Tielemans, Gray, Albrighton, Iheanacho, Maddison.
Q – Which players should we watch out for?
A – Maddison is a game-changer and Schmeichel doesn’t get the credit he deserves.
Wednesday’s injury is likely to rule him out, but Jamie Vardy is the main man and greatest player to ever play for the club. Find me another to challenge that statement if you’d like, I’ll wait…………………
BEESOTTED SCORE PREDICTIONS
Some of the Beesotted crew have given me their predictions for the score and Brentford line-up for Saturday’s game.
2-0 Leicester. Leicester’s second string stronger than ours. Bees team: Daniels, Roerslev, Jeanvier, Racic, Thompson, Mokotjo, Marcondes, Yearwood, Dervisoglu, Valencia, Zamburek. Gerry the cabbie
1-1. I think Gerry has the line-up right here. I’m going to go with Bees scoring early and Foxes equalising late on. Ali Mullaley
3-1 Leicester. Contrastingly, I believe Leicester will want to take the FA Cup very seriously. A Leicester CHUM of mine is close to the board of directors and strongly feels they will put out a strong team. I think this will be a glorious defeat in the last-ever FA Cup game ever at Griffin Park ever. Ever. Bring on the promotion push. Bees team: Daniels; Roerslev, Jeanvier, Pinnock, Thompson; Mokotjo, DaSilva, Marcondes; Mbeumo, Dervisoglu, Valencia. Robin Hood
1-1. Bees team: (Assuming fit first team squad for Forest) Daniels, Roerslev, Jeanvier, Racic, Thompson, Oksanen, Marcondes, Yearwood, Dervisoglu, Valencia, Zamburek. Although as Oksanen played half an hour for the B team on Wednesday night, maybe he won’t be involved from the start. Matt Allard
2-1 Brentford. I’m pretty certain that Matt has the potential correct line up so I’ll go the same as him. I’ve more faith in that team though. Liberal Nick
3-1 Leicester. Matt’s squad but a valiant defeat. Cham de Silva
Incidentally, for those of you who can’t get to Griffin Park for the match, it is being shown live on BBC One, with the coverage starting at 12.15, ahead of the 12.45 kick-off. And if you are there, it will be available on iPlayer to rewatch afterwards.
PUBS IN BRENTFORD AND TRAVEL NEWS
For Leicester fans coming to Griffin Park, 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. 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 out 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.