Manchester City arrive at the Gtech on Monday night, having seemingly already started their traditional second-half-of-the season winning surge.
The Premier League champions have won their last eight games in all competitions and have their major stars returning from injury.
After three consecutive substitute appearances, Kevin de Bruyne made his first start against Burnley on Wednesday.
And Erling Haaland returned as a substitute in that match – leading to speculation he may make his first start since early December against us.
Haaland will have a point to prove as we are the only Premier League he has – as yet – failed to score against, although he has only faced us once.
They go into the weekend second in the Premier League table – five points behind Liverpool and ahead of Arsenal on goal difference.
They have only lost three league games this season – all away – 2-1 at Wolves and 1-0 at Arsenal in consecutive matches and then 1-0 at Aston Villa.
City did the treble last season by winning the Champions League for the first time, the Premier League for the seventh time but ninth top-flight title overall, and the FA Cup for the seventh time.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
Pep Guardiola is the second longest-serving manager in the Premier League, behind Jurgen Klopp, and fourth longest-serving in all four divisions, after taking over as Manchester City boss on 1 July 2016.
He joined the club after successful spells at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
He won 14 trophies with Barca, including the La Liga title in three of his four seasons in charge and two Champions Leagues, before leading Bayern to three successive Bundesliga titles, winning the German Cup in two of those campaigns.
So far, he has won 12 trophies at City, including five Premier League titles.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
Sunday will only be our 13th league meeting with City – but the one which will always live long in the memory is last season’s one at the Etihad.
We of course pulled off a famous 2-1 win thanks to two goals from Ivan Toney – early in the game and in the eighth minute of stoppage time. Phil Foden replied in first-half stoppage time.
And we went on to complete an unforgettable double over the champions, as a late Ethan Pinnock goal gave us a 1-0 win at the Gtech on the final day of the season in Pontus Jansson and David Raya’s final games for the club.
It was our second double over them, having completed another one in the 1937/38 season, when we finished sixth in the top flight and City were relegated.
Our league results against City – with Brentford score first – are:
Division One (now Premier League)
1935/36 – (H) D 0-0 (A) L 1-2
1936/37 – (H) L 2-6 (A) L 1-2
1937/38 – (H) W 2-1 (A) W 2-0
Division Two (now Championship)
1950/51 – (H) W 2-0 (A) L 0-4
2021/22 – (H) L 0-1 (A) L 0-2
2022/23 – (H) W 1-0 (A) W 2-1
Before our Premier League games against City, our biggest memory from playing them was the famous FA Cup fourth round tie of January 1989.
The Bees had a miserable record in the competition and hadn’t reached this stage for 18 years.
After beating non-league Halesowen, and then both Peterborough and Walsall in replays, we were drawn against Second Division City at Griffin Park.
In the era of inflatables, the ground was filled with fans holding blow-up bees and bananas – and they witnessed a memorable 3-1 win for Brentford, with Gary Blissett the hero.
The Mancunian striker gave us the lead when he turned in Richard Cadette’s pass from close range, and Keith Jones doubled the lead from just inside the area before half-time.
Future Bee Nigel Gleghorn pulled one back for City on a mudbath of a pitch, but Blissett had the final say when he slotted home a rebound after Cadette’s shot had been saved, following good work by Andy Sinton and Roger Stanislaus.
Remarkably we played City twice more in 1989 – in a two-legged second round Littlewoods Challenge (League) Cup tie.
In the first leg at Griffin Park, Terry Evans gave us a first-half lead when he nodded in a cross from Gary Blissett, who doubled the lead from a rebound in the 85th minute, before David Oldfield pulled one back in the dying seconds.
David White levelled the tie on aggregate from close range early on in the Maine Road second leg, but our then record signing Eddie May equalised on the night – and restored our aggregate lead – before the break.
However, three goals in five second-half minutes ended our challenge – two from Trevor Morley and one from David Oldfield giving City a 4-1 win on the night and 5-3 overall.
We were drawn at home to City in the FA Cup third round in 1996/97. The original tie was postponed twice – the second time on a Tuesday night only two hours before kick-off, because part of the Griffin Park pitch was frozen.
City officials were furious at the late call-off, but – showing how different things were only just over 20 years ago – referee Mick Fletcher told the Independent: “Brentford officials were apparently trying to contact me in the afternoon. I was on my way but don’t have a mobile telephone. I left home at 15:00 and was told the pitch was playable then. But I don’t think Brentford were anticipating the temperature would drop so severely.”
When the tie did take place finally, City edged through 1-0 thanks to a 62nd-minute goal from Nicky Summerbee.
BBC Radio Manchester’s Manchester City reporter Mike Minay looks at City’s campaign so far, discusses whether their usual second half of the season surge is under way and pinpoints which trophy would mean the most to the club to retain this season.
Q – How would you assess City’s season so far?
A – I think for City it’s on track. They’re still strongly competing across the three trophies they hold from their treble-winning season. Speaking to the players it sounds like they’d rather be leading the Premier League than hunting down Liverpool – although having chased down the leaders many times in the past they know they can do it. A small squad has faced its challenges with some big, long-term injuries, but they’re coming back now and it’s looking like it could be another impressive second half of the season.
Q – Recent form would suggest City’s usual second half of the season winning run is already under way – with Haaland and De Bruyne returning, can they keep it going?
A – This is exactly the feeling I get at the minute. Impressive late wins at Newcastle and Spurs certainly have that momentum-driving feeling. Kevin De Bruyne came off the bench in both of those to change the game and most recently against Burnley he started and ran the show. His vision is impeccable and his execution just as good. Haaland will need his minutes managed carefully – which might be fine for Brentford in this game, but there may be greater concern in the reverse come the 20th February for the Bees. City are unbeaten since losing to Aston Villa on the 6th December, winning all but one of those games. So yes, second-half-of-the-season-City certainly does feel like it’s happening again.
Q – If City could only retain one trophy this season, which one would mean most to the club?
A – I’ve asked the question to a couple of players this season and it seems the Premier League is the answer. For City it’s always been about breaking barriers – and that’s why the Champions League was such a key victory last season. It was a big stick rival clubs used to beat them down with, now they don’t have that. Yes, Guardiola will joke about how, for example, Nottingham Forest have won two European trophies, but I think that will be corrected in time. Now it’s about becoming Premier League winners four times in a row. Something nobody else has ever done before. Not even the great Manchester Uniteds under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Q – How much do City want revenge over Brentford for our double over them last season?
A – I think this is a tricky one, and one where the Etihad Stadium defeat hurts more than the Gtech one on the final day of the season when everything was sewn up and Pep Guardiola managed his players’ minutes before an FA Cup and Champions League final. So, yes, Brentford will have the double in mind and celebrate that, I genuinely think the City players haven’t given it much thought.
Q – What memories do you have of past City-Bees matches?
A – Certainly at the Gtech how tight they’ve been. Both sides have one 1-0 win each. And in neither game was either side presented with a host of chances. I remember how well Brentford marshalled Erling Haaland and kept Kevin De Bruyne quiet in the 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium back in November 2022. I believe the same tactics will be employed should both feature on Monday night.
Q – Finally can you give me a possible City line-up and formation for the match?
A – This is where it’s always tricky with Manchester City. When you think you know how Pep’s mind works, he surprises you. Personally at the minute, the five players that should start every game due to their form are: Ederson (but that’s almost a given, right?), Rodri (a definite given), Nathan Ake, Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne. Erling Haaland if his minutes are being managed isn’t a necessity. City have shown they can cope without him. I don’t think Rico Lewis had his finest game against Burnley, it’s whether or not Kyle Walker comes back into the starting 11.
HOW TO FOLLOW THE GAME IF YOU CAN’T BE THERE
If you can’t get to the Brentford Community Stadium for Monday’s 8.00pm kick-off and want Brentford commentary, audio coverage is available via Buzz Box for free.
Coverage starts half an hour before kick-off and is advert-free, with Mark Burridge and Karleigh Osborne.
The match is also being shown live on Sky Sports.
PUBS IN BRENTFORD AND TRAVEL NEWS
For City fans coming to the Gtech Community Stadium, 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.