Leicester are mounting a real Premier League title challenge again this season and, if other results had gone their way in midweek, then they could have been arriving in west London on Sunday as league leaders.
The Foxes beat Chelsea 2-0 on Tuesday night to go top of the table for the first time at this stage of the season, since winning the title in 2016.
They were overtaken by first Manchester City and then Manchester United, but sit in third place just two behind Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s side and level on points with Pep Guardiola’s, having played a game more.
Leicester have the second-best away record in the Premier League this season, with seven wins, one draw and one defeat from their nine games on the road, a travelling points haul only bettered by Manchester United. Their home record is the fifth-best in the Premier League, with five wins and a draw, but four defeats.
The Foxes’ superb away form has been repeated in the FA Cup, as they won 4-0 at Stoke in the third round to set up Sunday’s tie with the Bees.
We reached this stage with a 2-1 home win over Middlesbrough.
It is a real coincidence to draw Leicester at home in the fourth round for the second season running.
However, the circumstances couldn’t be more different from 12 months ago, when we played them in front of a sold-out Griffin Park.
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.
They followed that by finishing 12th and then ninth twice in a row, before coming fifth to qualify for this season’s Europa League.
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, 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.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
Brendan Rodgers has nearly been in charge of Leicester for two years, having taken over at the end of February 2019.
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 three 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 only league meetings in this period 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.
Last season’s FA Cup meeting was decided by an early goal from Kelechi Iheanacho.
We had our moments, with Emiliano Marcondes hitting the post, but our final cup tie at Griffin Park ended in defeat.
BBC Radio Leicester’s Leicester City commentator Ian Stringer looks at the Foxes’ title challenge, whether they are taking the FA Cup seriously and recalls an unusual incident in last season’s Griffin Park tie.
Q – With all the Man Utd-Liverpool title race talk, how satisfying was it for Leicester to go top of the Premier League on Tuesday?
A – Being top of the league on Tuesday was satisfying but not in a “gonna win the league” way. More of a “it’s enjoyable spoiling your party” kind of way. Having happened before I think there’s a real reluctance to think it’d ever happen again. Expectation management and all that.
Q – What do you think are the Foxes’ chances of winning the title again, or at the very least of finishing in the top four?
A – Winning the title – 5000/1 shot if you ask me and that’s never happened…… Finishing in the top four would be an incredible season and whilst it looks possible, the Foxes threw that away last season so there are no chickens being counted here.
Q – How do Leicester continually challenge the mega-clubs, who have far more resources than they do?
A – Brendan Rodgers. Quite simply, it’s the manager. He’s astute, tactically top class and a wonderful man manager. He’s getting the best tune out of Jamie Vardy which is of course vital.
Q – How seriously will Brendan Rodgers be taking the FA Cup this season?
A – We were all surprised when Brendan selected a very, very strong side against Stoke. He rested Vardy and Maddison but other than that it was a “first 11” so I think that tells us all we need to know. He’s having a go in this competition, although he did say on Friday he would rotate his team, but still play a strong line-up.
Q – What memories do you have of last season’s FA Cup tie between the sides at Griffin Park?
A – I have a very strange memory of Griffin Park actually. Pre-match we were setting our kit up and we use a radio mic (a wireless microphone that allows our presenter to wander around and speak to fans etc) it uses a frequency that links to a transmitter. Now, that kit also requires another piece of kit that allows our presenter to hear the output of the station.
Randomly, the frequency of that kit and the stadium PA at Griffin Park was the same, meaning, for a long time pre-match, BBC Radio Leicester was being broadcast on the PA speakers in the ground. You got our travel reports, weather and the odd Gloria Gaynor tune. The game was good, Brentford looked classy. Leicester had to dig in. Griffin Park was beautiful.
Q – Which Leicester players should Bees fans watching from home keep an eye on?
A – Keep an eye on Wesley Fofana at centre-half if he plays. He’s a very, very classy player. Harvey Barnes on the wing is in fine form, Gareth Southgate will surely offer him another cap in March, and James Justin will surely be on that list too, as the full-back is having the season of his life. Kasper Schmeichel is in the best form I’ve ever seen him, and Wilfred Ndidi in central midfield has been labelled the fireman for obvious reasons.
Q – Finally, are you able to give me a possible line-up and formation please?
A – Line-up could be:
Justin Fofana. Evans. Castagne