Spread the love

Watford come into Friday’s Premier League clash at the Brentford Community Stadium four points and four places behind Brentford after a mixed start to the season.

The Hornets, promoted with us from the Championship last term, have been involved in some goal-filled games so far – especially since Claudio Ranieri replaced Xisco Munoz as manager in October.

The aggregate goal total from their 15 matches so far of 49 is the joint third-highest in the Premier League so far, along with Manchester United but behind Liverpool (56) and Leicester (50).

However, 29 of those goals have been conceded – with only Newcastle (30) and Norwich (31) letting in more – to show where their problems have lain.

Munoz was sacked seven matches into the season, with Watford having earned a point per game, but Ranieri has only earned six points from his eight matches in charge.

His two wins were spectacular – 5-2 at Everton and 4-1 over Manchester United. But they also lost 5-0 at home to Liverpool in his first game in charge and were beaten 4-2 at Leicester a fortnight ago.

They have only drawn one match so far this season – 1-1 against Newcastle – and their overall away record is two wins (the other one 3-1 at Norwich) and five defeats, in four of which they haven’t scored.

They didn’t even have much of a cup run as a distraction – losing 3-1 to Stoke, who then lost to us, in the third round of the Carabao Cup after a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace in round two.

In the FA Cup third round, they will travel to Leicester.

A run of 13 wins in 16 matches from mid-February until the end of April clinched promotion for the Hornets last season with two games to spare.

Their home form over the whole campaign was the best in the division with 59 points gained from their 23 games from 19 wins, two draws (one against us) and two defeats.

Watford have been in the top two divisions since 1998, when they won the Division Two (now League One) title. This is now their fourth spell in the Premier League. The first two – in 1999/2000 and 2006/07 – each only lasted one season, but when they were relegated two seasons ago, it ended a five-year spell in the top flight, during which they had a best finishing place of 11th.

The Hornets finished as runners-up in the old First Division in 1982/83 just five seasons after being promoted from Division Four alongside us. The following season they got to the third round of the Uefa Cup and at the end of that campaign, they reached the FA Cup final, where they lost 2-0 to Everton despite the best efforts of former Bee Steve Sherwood in goal.


As mentioned earlier, Claudio Ranieri took charge of Watford just over two months ago.

Embed from Getty Images

In taking over from Xisco Munoz, he became the 14th managerial change made by the Pozzo family since they took over the club in 2012.

Claudio is best known in England for the huge achievement of leading unfancied Leicester to the Premier League title in 2016.

As well as the Foxes, he has also managed Chelsea and Fulham in England, while he has won the cup in Italy with Fiorentina and in Spain with Valencia.

Other clubs on his CV include Juventus, Inter Milan and Monaco, while he also had a spell in charge of the Greece national team.

Watford are the 21st club in his 35-year managerial career.


Brentford and Watford have met many times over the years in league and cup matches – but Friday will be the first time we’ve faced them in the top flight.

We have played the Hornets in every other division from both sides’ very first season in the Football League in 1920/21.

We won promotion together from Division Four in 1977/78 and were involved in a thrilling 3-3 draw the following season – in a match from which highlights were shown in that weekend’s The Big Match on ITV. You can get a flavour of the coverage here.

We also played them during two of our seven seasons in the Championship.

Championship meetings (Bees scores first):

2014/15 – (H) 1-2 (A) 1-2

2020/21 – (H) 2-0 (A) 1-1

In the away game at the end of September 2014, a Jonathan Douglas goal was not enough to earn us a share of the spoils. He equalised in the 57th minute from an Alan Judge pass, after Odion Ighalo had put Watford ahead with a rebound from a penalty, after David Button had saved his spot-kick.

Matej Vydra clinched a 2-1 win for the hosts with a superb shot from the edge of the area, but Daniel Pudil was sent off for a second yellow late on, before Judge was inches away from a second equaliser, with his injury-time header being saved by Heurelho Gomes.

The win took Watford up to third in the table, level on points with top two Norwich and Nottingham Forest, while Brentford stayed 12th.

The return match in February was shrouded in controversy after it came out that morning that Bees manager Mark Warburton would be leaving Griffin Park at the end of the season.

Once again, Brentford lost 2-1, Watford missed a penalty, Odion Ighalo was on target, and there was a red card. But this time, it was the Bees who went down to 10 men, when Jake Bidwell was sent off for a foul in the 37th minute.

Despite that, future Watford striker Andre Gray put us ahead early in the second half, with the players running to Warburton to celebrate. David Button then saved a spot-kick from Troy Deeney, but the visitors did equalise through Ighalo, who then volleyed their winner in the first minute of second-half stoppage-time.

In last season’s first encounter, there were more penalties and another red card, as Brentford earned a 1-1 draw at Vicarage Road.

All the significant action happened in a six-minute spell early in the second half. Watford were awarded a spot-kick for a foul on Ismaila Sarr by Ethan Pinnock, who was sent off – but only after the referee recalled Mads Bech Sorensen, who he had initially dismissed in error. After a long delay to sort all that out, Troy Deeney crashed home the penalty to put the Hornets – playing in front of 2,000 home fans – ahead.

But three minutes later, Brentford were level once again when Ivan Toney took his Championship goal tally for the season up to 16 when he sent Ben Foster the wrong way from the penalty spot, following handball by Christian Kabasele.

The point took Watford up to third, three places and two points ahead of the sixth-placed Bees.

The return at the start of May was a record-breaking day for Ivan Toney, who equalled the Championship’s individual scoring record for a season of 30 goals with a second-half penalty as we won 2-0.

Marcus Forss gave us the lead against the already-promoted Hornets right at the start of the second half, but Toney’s moment came on the hour mark as he slotted home from the spot to match Glenn Murray’s eight-year-old goals total.


BBC Three Counties Radio’s sports editor Geoff Doyle analyses Watford’s season so far, picks out the key players to watch out for and relishes a Friday night under the lights with fans inside, the BCS.

Q – How would you assess Watford’s season so far?

A – Very much going according to plan! Everyone knew it would be difficult for Watford following promotion. The Hornets made summer signings but didn’t address defensive issues and that’s why they haven’t kept a clean sheet all season. The Hornets got off to an excellent start against Aston Villa first game and have picked up three other wins. November was always going to be a nightmare month up against so many top six teams, so to be where they are is pretty much expected.

Q – How surprised were you at the sacking of Xisco Munoz?

Embed from Getty Images

A – Not at all. The club probably should have done it in the summer. Their heart ruled their head. Munoz achieved his goal by getting Watford promoted but it didn’t come easy and there were worrying moments particularly at the beginning. But there was always a doubt that his lack of experience would limit him in the Premier League against top-class coaches.

His tactical game was also questionable, and it felt that his sacking was going to come as soon as there was a little dip giving the board an excuse to do so.

Q – There have been plenty of goals at both ends under Claudio Ranieri so far – what has he changed since taking over?

A – Watford will always concede with the defence they currently have. If you include the last time Watford were in the Premier League, it’s now 25 games in a row that they haven’t kept a clean sheet. Defensively the Hornets aren’t strong enough.

But the positive is that they will score goals and they have very exciting young players who are making a name for themselves. Ranieri has made Watford more attacking so they won’t go down without a fight and it’s certainly going to be exciting. They possess a front four or five who are all extremely talented in front of goal.

Q – What transfer activity took place over the summer and how much is expected in January?

Embed from Getty Images

A – Watford bolstered the midfield bringing in Moussa Sissoko, Juraj Kucka, Imran Louza, Ozan Tufan and Peter Etebo. Those lot have been hit and miss with the one exception we’ll come on to later. In attack, Joshua King, Cucho Hernandez and Emmanuel Dennis came in (along with a load of others who have barely featured). But in defence only Danny Rose and Nicoloas Nkoulou were brought in as first-team players and the latter has been injured for most of it and the former is still not really match-fit.

Q – Who have been the key men so far for the Hornets this season?

Embed from Getty Images

A – In midfield, Moussa Sissoko has been excellent. We wondered whether he would have the heart for it dropping down a level from Tottenham, but he certainly has, and he’s been consistently good all season hence his new captaincy role.

In attack Watford have been a revelation. Emmanuel Dennis has regularly scored and assisted making his transfer fee of around £4m seem a pittance. Joshua King has been excellent leading the line, Joao Pedro blossoms with every game, Ismaila Sarr started brilliantly before injury and Cucho Hernandez has shown really encouraging signs. If Watford could defend better, they would be comfortably mid-table.

Q – What memories do you have of past Brentford-Watford encounters?

A – The most recent one was an awful one from Watford’s point of view – but that has been very much the exception for absolutely ages! Before that defeat you had to go back to 1977 for the last time the Bees beat Watford – a staggering 17 games in which the Hornets were unbeaten.

Last year’s match at the Community Stadium was the next game after Watford had secured promotion back to the Premier League and it very much felt like it. The Hornets already looked like they were thinking about top-flight football. Brentford wanted to enter the play-offs in good form and spirit and duly did, beating Watford y2-0. Watford had two early injuries and that seemed to affect them too.

Q – How much are you looking forward to being in the Brentford Community Stadium with fans for the first time?

A – Really looking forward to it. I like the fact that the stands are close to the pitch unlike other new stadiums, so the noise generated is always really loud. For Watford fans this is an easy one to get to, and no doubt plenty will make a day and evening of it so hopefully it’s a great atmosphere.

Q – Finally, can you give me a possible Watford line-up and formation please?

A – It’s likely to be very similar to the last few games because a lot of the Watford injury problems are long term which is a shame. So Bachmann in goal. A defence of Femenia, Ekong, Cathcart and Rose. The midfield could change but likely to be Louza, Sissoko and Cleverley. In attack Dennis, King and Pedro.


If you can’t get to the Brentford Community Stadium for Friday’s sold-out 8.00pm kick-off, there are various ways of following the game.

TV – The game is being shown live on Sky Sports, with coverage starting at 7.00.

Radio – There will be live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and reports on BBC Radio London Digital and TalkSport.

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, with Mark Burridge and the team.




For Watford 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 minutes 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.