Southampton are having a miserable season, and despite some positive performances in the cups, come into Saturday’s game with their Premier League position in jeopardy.
They have only won four times in 20 league matches this season – although three of those victories have come in away games. The latest of those was a 2-1 triumph at Everton last month, which ended a winless league run of eight games.
The Saints’ other victories came earlier in the season – 2-1 both at Leicester and at home to Chelsea in August, and 1-0 at Bournemouth in October.
However, they have shown different form in the cup competitions – reaching the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup and the fifth round of the FA Cup.
In the Carabao, they won 3-0 at Cambridge, beat Sheffield Wednesday 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 draw and saw off Lincoln 2-1 before a surprise 2-0 victory over Manchester City set up a two-legged semi-final with Newcastle.
However, that is where their run ended as they lost 1-0 at home and then 2-1 in the second leg at St James’ Park on Tuesday.
In the FA Cup, they earned 2-1 wins at Crystal Palace and at home to Blackpool, and they host Luton or Grimsby next.
Their indifferent league form cost long-serving manager Ralph Hasenhuttl his job at the start of November after nearly four years in charge.
He was replaced by Luton boss Nathan Jones.
The Saints are in their 11th consecutive season in the Premier League after winning successive promotions from League One and the Championship.
They were founder members of the competition in 1992 and stayed in it until they were relegated in 2005 to end a 27-year stay in the top flight. Their only other top-flight spell was from 1966 to 1974.
In 1976, as a Second Division (now Championship) club, they famously won the FA Cup by beating Manchester United 1-0 in the final.
Southampton joined the Football League with Brentford in 1920.
SEVENTY YEARS A BEE
This Saturday marks a special occasion for one Brentford supporter, as it is exactly 70 years to the day since blind fan Melvin Collins attended his first Bees game.
He was invited to Griffin Park by George King, one of the people behind Brentford becoming only the second club in the country to set up a commentary scheme for blind and visually impaired fans.
Despite the Bees losing that day 2-1 to Aston Villa in an FA Cup fourth replay, young Melvin was hooked and he has been coming to games ever since.
There is a special interview with Melvin in Saturday’s matchday programme to mark the occasion.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
As mentioned, above, Nathan Jones left Luton to become Southampton boss just before the World Cup.
It was his second spell in charge at Kenilworth Road. He originally took charge of Luton in January 2016, after leaving his post as first-team coach at Brighton, and in his first full season led the Hatters to the League Two play-offs, where they lost to Blackpool in the semi-finals.
However, they made no mistake the following season, winning automatic promotion as runners-up behind Accrington, before he left midway through the next 2018/19 campaign to move to Stoke.
Things did not go well with the Potters though, and after a string of poor results he was sacked after less than a year in the job.
He returned to the Hatters after the end of the 2019/20 season and led them to 12th place and then last year to sixth, before they lost to Huddersfield in the play-off semi-finals.
Nathan played more than 500 senior games in a 21-year career in defence or midfield for Merthyr, Luton, Numancia (Spain), Badajoz (Spain), Southend, Brighton and Yeovil, where he became player/assistant manager.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
Saturday will be our first meeting with Southampton this season after our game at St Mary’s in September was called off following the death of the Queen. The match has still to be rearranged.
Last season’s two meetings were very different – although the home team won by three goals on each occasion.
Once again we had a postponement of our original fixture at St Mary’s – this time it was a Covid outbreak in the Brentford camp that forced our trip due in December to be called off.
When the game was played, it was a disastrous night for us as we were hammered 4-1.
Although Vitaly Janelt cancelled out Jan Bednarek’s early opener, an Alvaro Fernandez own goal restored the Saints’ lead before the break, and then second-half strikes from Armando Broja and Che Adams completed the scoring.
The return in early May was an equally comfortable victory – this time for us.
Pontus Jansson and Yoane Wissa scored within 77 seconds of each other early in the first half to put us in control, before Kristoffer Ajer made absolutely sure with his first Brentford goal as we ran out 3-0 winners.
Before last season, we had met Southampton more in the cups than in the league in recent years.
Having faced each other in 12 of the 13 seasons from 1947 to 1960, this is only the fourth campaign since then in which we have been in the same division, with the others being in League One in 2009/10 and 2010/11, and of course last season in the Premier League.
We first met in August 2009 when the Saints had just been relegated and we’d just been promoted and shared a 1-1 draw at St Mary’s, with Cleveland Taylor cancelling out Dan Harding’s opener to earn us a point.
That was the same result in the midweek Griffin Park return the following January when another late Bees goal – this time from Leon Legge – equalised a Southampton opener, this one scored by Lloyd James.
Both the 2010/11 matches ended in away wins.
Goals in the first half-hour by Gary Alexander and Charlie MacDonald gave us a 2-0 pre-Christmas win on the south coast, but the Saints earned revenge at the end of April as goals by Adam Lallana, David Connolly and Oscar Gobern earned them a 3-0 Griffin Park victory.
All our other recent meetings have been in the cups.
They beat us 5-1 on aggregate in the second round of the Coca-Cola League Cup in 1997/98 (1-3 at The Dell and 0-2 at Griffin Park).
The next time we were drawn together was far more memorable – the fifth round of the FA Cup in 2004/05 when the Saints were in the Premier League and we were a League One club.
After the infamous ticket scramble, Bees fans were dotted all round St Mary’s but did not see the start we wanted from Martin Allen’s team as Henri Camara put the hosts 2-0 up by the 36th minute. However, Isaiah Rankin crucially pulled one back before the break before Sam Sodje famously headed us level in the 58th minute to earn a replay.
Despite taking a fourth-minute lead through Eddie Hutchinson at Griffin Park, two goals from Peter Crouch and one from Kevin Phillips took Southampton through to a quarter-final with Manchester United.
We caused a shock when we met in the second round of the 2020/21 Carabao Cup as we beat a strong Saints side 2-0 at St Mary’s, with goals late in the first half by Christian Norgaard, his first for us, and Josh Dasilva.
Q – How would you analyse Southampton’s season so far?
A – Massively disappointing so far. Back in the summer there was plenty of optimism around St. Mary’s after a rare net spend in the summer and the acquisition of some exciting young talent. But the first half of the season has been blighted by mistakes at the back and a lack of goals, always a recipe for trouble.
Q – How do you look back on Ralph Hasenhuttl’s time in charge?
A – He was the longest-serving manager for 30 years, and should always be remembered as that by Saints fans, who not surprisingly, started to run out of patience as results waned and Ralph seemed to run out of ideas. But he kept the club up for four seasons at a time when he lost good players and had a negligible budget. His commitment and passion for that difficult task shouldn’t be forgotten.
Q – What changes has Nathan Jones made since arriving?
A – Looking at results, you could say on the surface he hasn’t changed a lot. But every manager brings a new personality and new ideas to the team, and he’s working hard to make Saints harder to beat. Going forward I would argue they aren’t any better at all yet, but that could change. They are certainly a more direct team now than before he arrived.
Q – What business did Saints do in the transfer window?
A – On paper they had a good window. They broke the club’s transfer record on deadline day for the exciting Ghanaian winger Kamaldeen Sulemana and also added Nigerian 6’ 7” striker Paul Onuachu.
That was a £40m outlay in a bid to help the team score goals, and in total, with the addition of Croatian winger Misalv Orsic, midfielder Charly Alcaraz from Argentina, and James Bree from Luton, they’ve added depth and quality to the squad, spending over £60m in the process. Jan Bednarek returned from his loan spell at Villa too. So, a good window for sure.
Q – What are your memories of past Southampton-Brentford matches?
A – My abiding memory is of this fixture back in May last season, when for the first time really, the away Saints fans turned on Ralph Hasenhuttl and vented their frustration as the Bees cut through them to win easily, and added to Saints’ already bad run at the time. Not much has changed since!
Q – Finally can you give me an expected Saints formation and line-up please?
A – Well, there’s two answers, what I think and what I hope.
My hope is for a 4-3-3 with Bazunu; KWP, Bednarek, Salisu, Perraud; Lavia, JWP, Alcaraz; Orsic, Adams, Sulemana………but Nathan Jones keeps trying (and failing) to make Saints good with three at the back, and in that case, Tuesday’s side at Newcastle might be closer to reality.
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 and want Brentford commentary, audio coverage is available via the new Buzz Box, currently on a free trial.
Coverage starts half an hour before kick-off and is advert-free, with Mark Burridge and Jonathan Douglas.
PUBS IN BRENTFORD AND TRAVEL NEWS
For Southampton fans coming to the Gtech 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 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.