Swansea have had a superb start to the season, shrugging off the disappointment of losing to us in last season’s play-off semi-finals to go second in the table after the weekend’s matches.
The Swans have only lost once this season in nine games, and trail long-time leaders Reading by only four points.
They have won five and drawn three of their other matches with Millwall (2-1), Stoke and Blackburn, on Saturday, (both 2-0) beaten in south Wales and Preston (1-0) and Wycombe (2-0) overcome on the road.
They were held by Birmingham (0-0) at home and also picked up points at Coventry and Bristol City (both 1-1) and come into Tuesday’s match unbeaten in five matches.
Their only disappointment so far was a first round exit in the Carabao Cup at the hands of south Wales rivals, and League Two high-flyers, Newport.
Swansea are in their third season back in the Championship.
They enjoyed seven seasons in the Premier League, with a best finish of eighth in 2014/15, although they only finished in the top half of the table in one of the other campaigns.
In 2013, they won the first major trophy in their history when they beat League Two Bradford City 5-0 in the Capital One League Cup final at Wembley.
That took them into the following season’s Europa League, where they negotiated two qualifying rounds to reach the group stages. They finished second to reach the knockout stages, where they lost 3-1 to Napoli after a goalless draw in the first leg.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
Steve Cooper was appointed to his first managerial job to succeed Graham Potter in the summer of 2019.
He spent his playing career in Welsh football with The New Saints, Rhyl, Bangor City and Porthmadog before moving into coaching and becoming the head of youth at Wrexham. From there, he moved to Liverpool’s academy, becoming its manager in 2011.
Two years later, he joined the FA’s youth set-up and ran the under-16 team and then the under-17s, who he helped win the World Cup for the first time in 2017. He also led them to the European Championship semi-finals a year later.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
Until our win at the Liberty Stadium in October last year, our recent record against Swansea had been pretty miserable.
In 2005/06, they beat us in the League One play-off semi-finals 3-1 on aggregate, after each side had won the home league match earlier in the season 2-1.
They failed to go up, and we met again the following campaign with Swansea doing the double with a pair of 2-0 wins – the same result when we met at the Liberty in the first round of the 2008/09 Carling Cup.
That was our last meeting until the 2018/19 season when we faced each other three times, with the Swans winning the lot with a goal aggregate of 10-3.
The only Griffin Park meeting – in early December – saw Swansea race into a 3-0 lead in only 27 minutes.
The first goal came after only 25 seconds when a mistake by Ezri Konsa allowed Barrie McKay to set up Wayne Routledge for the opener.
It was 2-0 after 22 minutes when a move involving Nathan Dyer and Oli McBurnie ended with the ball deflecting off Chris Mepham into his own net for an own goal. Leroy Fer quickly hit the third after another defensive muddle, but Ollie Watkins pulled one back with a header shortly before the break.
Said Benrahma gave the Bees hope of a remarkable comeback when he curled home a 20-yard free-kick for his first league goal for the club in the 69th minute. Brentford piled on the pressure but the closest we came to an equaliser was when Sergi Canos hit the bar with a volley late on as Swansea held on for a 3-2 victory.
The return game had to be postponed because on the same weekend, the sides were drawn together in the FA Cup fifth round – only our ninth appearance at that stage of the competition.
The Cup tie was played on the Sunday afternoon and turned into a nightmare for us as we crashed out 4-1.
Ollie Watkins put us ahead midway through the first half after a pass by Neal Maupay and we led at the break.
The Swans equalised four minutes into the second half when Bersant Celina’s free-kick hit the post and hit Luke Daniels’s back to go in for an own goal.
Four minutes later, Daniel James ran half the length of the pitch to score a superb solo goal to put us behind.
Ezri Konsa was later sent off for hauling down James and further goals from Celina, from the left-hand side, and George Byers, from 20 yards, merely confirmed the win.
The rearranged league game in early April was another disappointing trip for the Bees as Swansea cruised to a 3-0 win.
Once again, we fell behind after only a few seconds as Mads Bech Sorensen’s backpass was intercepted by Daniel James, who fed Nathan Dyer to score his first Swansea league goal since August 2014.
Dyer doubled the lead just after the half hour mark after racing clear of our defence and Daniel James sealed the win in the 78th minute, when he slammed home a rebound after Connor Roberts’s shot came back off the post.
Last season, we ended a winless run of 10 league games, and 13 in all competitions, against Swansea with a 3-0 victory at the Liberty Stadium in October.
Said Benrahma hit the opener with a curling shot from the edge of the area, and an own goal from ex-Bee Jake Bidwell, under pressure from Bryan Mbeumo, doubled the lead before the break.
Mbeumo got on the scoresheet early in the second half with a fierce effort from 20 yards.
We completed our first double over the Swans since the 1974/75 season with a 3-1 win at Griffin Park on Boxing Day.
Bryan Mbeumo scored at Griffin Park for the fourth game in a row to give us a 20th minute lead and Ollie Watkins doubled the advantage five minutes later.
Andre Ayew pulled one back midway through the second half, but Watkins sealed our fifth successive home win in the 88th minute to take us up to third in the table, and drop Swansea down to eighth.
We then of course met in the play-off semi-finals after Swansea snatched a place in the top six on a dramatic final day of the regular Championship season.
There was plenty of incident in the first leg at the Liberty Stadium as Swansea won 1-0.
David Raya saved an Andre Ayew penalty in the 63rd minute, awarded after Pontus Jansson brought down Rhian Brewster, but two minutes later Rico Henry was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Connor Roberts.
Ayew then had the last word, beating Raya with a brilliant half-volley from just inside the penalty area in the 81st minute for the only goal of the night.
The second leg was always going to be emotional, given that it was the final competitive game at Griffin Park.
The Bees were boosted beforehand when Rico Henry’s red card from the first leg was overturned, allowing him to play in the second match.
It took only 11 minutes for Ollie Watkins to level the tie from Mathias Jensen’s pass with what turned out to be his last Brentford goal.
And four minutes later we were ahead overall when Emiliano Marcondes headed in Said Benrahma’s cross.
Bryan Mbeumo made it 3-0 on the night, and 3-1 overall, in the first minute of the second half when he volleyed in Henry’s left-wing cross.
There was a nervous finish for the Bees when Rhian Brewster pulled one back in the 78th minute by chipping David Raya, but the Bees held on to sign off at GP in style and reach the so-called “richest game in football” of the Championship play-off final with a 3-1 (3-2 aggregate) win.
BBC Wales Football Correspondent Rob Phillips reviews Swansea’s season so far, tells us why ex-Bees captain Jake Bidwell has made such an impressive start to the campaign, and explains why he will be more than 300 miles away from west London during Tuesday’s match.
Q – How would you assess Swansea’s start to this season?
A – The Championship table says everything. Second behind Reading, shows they have started really well.
Without wishing to curse the trip to Brentford, the Swans have been particularly impressive on the road with two wins and two draws from four away games so far.
Defensively they have found a formation which really suits their assets, with Wales international Ben Cabango and Chelsea loanee Marc Guehi particularly impressive in a three-man central defensive line. This has allowed wing-backs Connor Roberts and former Brentford captain Jake Bidwell to push forward and supply the ammunition into the penalty area.
Early worries about the home form after a goalless draw with visitors Birmingham and a defeat by Huddersfield, have been eased after Liberty Stadium victories over Stoke City and Blackburn in the last week or so.
Q – What transfer business did the Swans do over the shortened summer?
A – Well, the big story was the departure on deadline day of Wales centre back Joe Rodon to Tottenham Hotspur for a fee of £11m plus £4m of add-ons. Frankly, it looks a bargain for Spurs.
But, to be fair, Steve Cooper has again been shrewd in the transfer market and if anything, last Tuesday’s win over Stoke illustrated how the depth of the Swansea squad has improved. At least some of this is down to the exit of Rodon, providing finance for arrivals.
Goalkeeper Freddie Woodman, son of former Brentford goalkeeper Andy, has returned for a second loan spell from Newcastle, as has Guehi, from Chelsea. Wolves loanee Morgan Gibbs-White showed promise before picking up an injury, while Cooper has also signed Bristol City midfielder Kasey Palmer and Brighton striker Viktor Gyokeres, on loan.
Centre-forward Jamal Lowe, an £800,000 buy from Wigan, is already among the goals, while Korey Smith has made his presence felt having arrived from Bristol City.
And the departure of Rodon was balanced by wing-back Ryan Manning’s arrival from Queens Park Rangers; experienced Ryan Bennett moving from Wolves, and Manchester City defender Joel Latibeaudiere also heading to Swansea. So far Rodon’s absence has not been markedly noticed, though any club would miss a player of his quality.
Q – Ex-Brentford captain Jake Bidwell seems to have played a much more attacking role this season – how is he doing?
Bidwell has made a particularly impressive start to the campaign. As I said earlier, Swansea have gone with three centre-backs and wing-backs. The quality of delivery by Bidwell on the left and Connor Roberts on the right, has been a huge factor in the Swans’ decent start.
Brentford fans will surely be familiar with Bidwell’s bounding runs down the left flank and he has not disappointed this term. He already has a goal to his name, scoring against Millwall, and has been an added aerial threat at set pieces.
It says a lot about Swansea, the majority of their goals have derived from assists by Bidwell and Roberts. They are certainly key elements in Swansea’s success, so far.
Q – What was it like being at the last competitive first-team game at Griffin Park?
A – I must say the overall result wasn’t the one any of us from Wales wanted!
And I actually thought Brentford were hanging on late in the game, despite their quicksilver start to overturn the initial advantage from the home leg.
But, that said, I used to like going to Griffin Park (apart from the hunt for parking spaces!) and as I have said previously on these pages, I have seen some memorable games there.
I actually thought Brentford would win the play-off final, but it was not to be – and that probably explains why I never bet on football results.
Overall, it was an absolute privilege to be part of an historic occasion. And that night definitely was historic.
Q – How much are you looking forward to being inside the new stadium?
A -I have driven past it plenty of times, so I am really looking forward to it. Going into new grounds is always a thrill and an adventure.
Unfortunately, I will have to wait for that privilege. As the BBC Wales Football Correspondent, Swansea City are not the only team I report on.
So as Brentford take on Swansea, I will be about as far away as I possibly could be, watching whether League Two table toppers Newport County can continue their fabulous winning run – at Carlisle United.
At least I see the world.
Q – Who should Bees fans watching on iFollow look out for in the Swansea team?
A – I am sure they will be looking out for Jake Bidwell.
I would have thought captain Matt Grimes will also return, having been rested (on the bench) for Saturday’s win against visitors Blackburn Rovers, ending a remarkable run of 89 consecutive League games in which he had not missed a minute of action.
But, the player I always single out is the man who will be well known to Brentford fans – Andre Ayew.
He scored in the play-off semi final first leg last season and netted against the Bees in the Boxing Day defeat at Griffin Park too.
He is a skilful, all-action striker who is a talisman for Swansea City.
Ghana captain Ayew has often been linked with moves away from the Swans and is in the last season of his contract at the Liberty Stadium.
But despite frequent speculation over his future, his commitment to the cause has always remained undiminished. He is not the captain of Swansea, but is a real leader in Steve Cooper’s squad and on Saturday scored his fourth Championship goal of the campaign
Win or lose, he is always worth watching.
Q – Finally can you tell me a possible Swansea line-up for the game please?
A – Possible line-up Woodman; Roberts, Naughton, Cabango, Guehi, Bidwell; Grimes, Smith, Fulton; Lowe, Ayew.
The match is being played behind closed doors at the Brentford Community Stadium with an earlier than usual kick-off time of 7.00pm on Tuesday, but is being shown live on iFollow. Season ticket holders have free access to watch the match, but others can buy a match pass for £10.