Norwich have made a disastrous start to the season and already look to have an uphill battle to avoid relegation.
Having run away with the Championship title last term, hopes should have been high for the chance to build on that back in the Premier League.
However, an unkind fixture list at the start of the campaign set the tone, and the Canaries are yet to recover.
Most newly-promoted teams would have struggled with Liverpool, Manchester City, Leicester and Arsenal as their opening four games and Norwich were no different – losing the lot (0-3, 0-5, 1-2, 0-1) .
They went on to lose their next two matches as well – 3-1 at home to Watford and 2-0 at Everton, before picking up their first two points of the season in back-to-back goalless draws at Burnley and against Brighton.
But any thoughts that a revival may have been on the cards were crushed in the next game – a 7-0 hammering at Chelsea. And then last Sunday, the Canaries lost 2-1 at home to Leeds.
That match featured only their third Premier League goal of the season – from centre-half Andrew Omobamidele – with their other two both coming from Teemu Pukki.
Norwich won last season’s Championship by six points from Watford with a club-record points tally of 97, with the Bees finishing third on 87.
It was the latest in a series of promotions and relegations the Canaries have gone through in recent years.
Since 2009/10, they have changed divisions eight times.
They went from League One to the top flight in two seasons from 2009 to 2011 and then stayed in the Premier League for three years.
That was their longest spell there since playing in its first three campaigns from 1992, when they finished third in its inaugural competition.
Relegation in 2014 was followed by immediate promotion from the Championship, but another relegation followed 12 months later.
They won the Championship in 2019, but finished bottom of the Premier League 12 months later, before last season’s latest promotion.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
Daniel Farke is the 11th longest-serving manager in the country, and fourth longest-serving in the Premier League behind Sean Dyche, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, after replacing Alex Neil in May 2017.
Farke took over as Borussia Dortmund’s reserve team coach in 2015 – replacing David Wagner after he left to go to Huddersfield.
Stuart Webber, now the Canaries’ sporting director, was with the Terriers at the time that Wagner joined the club.
Farke, who spent his playing career in Germany’s lower divisions, is Norwich’s first foreign manager.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
After being regular league opponents in the 1920s, 30s and 50s, we were not in the same division as each other again until League One in 2009/10.
We then met in five of our seven seasons in the Championship and they had the better of things with five wins and two draws in our 10 meetings.
Our Championship results (Brentford score first):
2014/15 – (H) L 0-3 (A) W 2-1
2016/17 – (H) D 0-0 (A) L 0-5
2017/18 – (H) L 0-1 (A) W 2-1
2018/19 – (H) D 1-1 (A) L 0-1
2020/21 – (H) D 1-1 (A) L 0-1
We have failed to win any of our last four meetings.
Norwich took four of the six points available in 2018/19 on their way to promotion to the Premier League.
The Carrow Road meeting at the end of October saw the Bees slip to a 1-0 defeat in Thomas Frank’s third game in charge. Emiliano Buendia scored his first goal in English football in the 34th minute and that was enough to take the points.
Dan Bentley kept Brentford in the game on the stroke of half-time when he saved a penalty from ex-Bee Jordan Rhodes, after Ollie Watkins had fouled Max Aarons.
And then the Championship’s top scorer Neal Maupay missed a great chance to rescue a point in the 70th minute, when he hit the bar from close range.
It left the Bees winless in eight games in the league and dropped us down to 16th in the table, while Norwich climbed up to fourth.
The return on New Year’s Day ended 1-1 and Brentford did enough to win it.
The Bees had turned the corner form-wise and this game stretched our unbeaten run to four matches, while Norwich started 2019 in second place.
Julian Jeanvier headed us ahead from a corner with his first Championship goal midway through the first half, but Timm Klose maintained the Canaries’ promotion charge when he headed in an 84th-minute corner to equalise.
The Bees stayed 18th in the table – six points clear of the relegation zone.
Last season, Norwich were our first home midweek Championship opponents at the Brentford Community Stadium.
Ivan Toney put us ahead midway through the first half with his eighth goal in six games and 100th of his career, but Kenny McLean’s deflected shot in the 87th minute rescued a point for the visitors as it finished 1-1.
Neither side moved in the table, with Norwich still fifth on 14 points – three ahead of the 11th-placed Bees.
By the time the teams met for the Carrow Road return in early March – again in midweek – they were the top two sides in the table.
The Canaries were seven points ahead of us, with Watford a further three points back in third.
And a first-half goal from Emi Buendia ensured that they stretched that lead to 10 as we fell to a 1-0 defeat.
BBC Radio Norfolk sports editor and commentator Chris Goreham looks at Norwich’s poor start to the season, explains whether Daniel Farke is under pressure, and looks forward to his first visit to the Brentford Community Stadium.
Q – After running away with the Championship last season, why have Norwich done so poorly this term and can they turn it around?
A – That is a big question! The sale of Emi Buendia, who really wanted to leave, is one obvious difference. Norwich were always going to miss him. But selling their player of the year gave them the financial freedom to spend money across the squad.
There was cautious optimism at the start of the season that they had built a squad that was better than the one relegated two seasons ago. There are some good players in there and while no-one was expecting a top half finish, the return of two points from 10 games has come as a shock.
Q – How much has the result at Chelsea in particular rocked confidence in the squad and fans?
A – They had two 0-0 draws before that against Burnley and Brighton so there was a sense the squad was getting to grips with the challenge and was at least looking more solid. The manner of the defeat at Chelsea highlighted the issues that have undermined City’s season.
They have been too easy to score against and careless in possession of the ball. It’s been a far cry from the ‘Farkeball’ possession football we had become used to. They are also struggling to create chances and score goals.
Q – Daniel Farke seems to be under pressure – would a change of manager make any difference to their fortunes?
A – Farke is loved by City fans for the two Championship titles. But the tide has definitely turned in recent weeks. There is a definite sense that the squad is better than two points from 10 games suggests. We’re getting to the point where sticking with him is becoming more controversial than dismissing him.
Not many City fans want to actually turn on him because they have such fond memories of the good times. But patience is getting thinner by the week.
Q – What business did the Canaries do in the summer transfer window and how badly has Emi Buendia been missed?
A – Buendia was always going to be missed. However when Norwich sold James Maddison at the end of Farke’s first season things felt just as bleak. On that occasion they reinvested the money in the squad and replaced a brilliant individual with a squad capable of taking the team to the next level.
That was clearly the aim this time but the new signings have yet to deliver. Many of them have been in and out of the team which probably hasn’t helped.
Q – Who are the key men in the Norwich side for Brentford fans to watch out for?
A – If Norwich are going to score it’s likely to be Teemu Pukki, you know all about him. Mathias Normann has been the pick of the new signings to date, but he’s more of a combative midfielder.
Q – Any particular past meetings between the sides stand out in your memory?
A – It feels like we’ve had some really good battles in recent years. Perhaps it’s my short-term memory, but the last meeting at Carrow Road was as good an occasion as we experienced without fans. Both sides really going for it in a top-of-the-table Championship clash. I know the Norwich City players felt that 1-0 win was the moment they knew they were on course to win the league. It felt really big.
I’ll never forget losing 2-1 at Brentford in League One in August 2009. Paul Lambert had been appointed Norwich manager that day and sat just in front of us. It was the start of a brilliant ride after he’d got the chance to see the size of the task he’d taken on.
Q – How excited are you about your first trip to the Brentford Community Stadium?
A – I missed this one last season as it was midweek and I present the Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Norfolk, so away games on a Tuesday or Wednesday often see me ruled out. I’m looking forward to it, but I will miss the old place. Griffin Park had proper character.
Q – Finally can you give me a possible Norwich line-up and formation please?
A – This is the toughest question at the moment. But this is what they did against Leeds.
Krul – Aarons, Hanley, Kabak, Omobamidle – Normann, McLean – Rashica, Dowell, Sargent – Pukki
HOW TO FOLLOW THE GAME IF YOU CAN’T BE THERE
If you can’t get to the Brentford Community Stadium for Saturday’s sold-out 3.00pm kick-off, there are various ways of following the game.
Radio – There will be live commentary on BBC Radio London 94.9FM from Nick Godwin and Bradley Allen.
iFollow – If you want Brentford commentary, iFollow audio coverage is available again this season via monthly or seasonal passes. Coverage starts half an hour before kick-off and is advert-free and on Saturday, Mark Burridge, Karleigh Osborne and Charlotte Tanner are your commentators.
PUBS IN BRENTFORD AND TRAVEL NEWS
For Norwich fans coming to the Brentford Community Stadium for the first time, 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 minutes 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 two minutes.
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 rating.
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 King’s 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.