West Ham arrive at the Gtech on Saturday for fireworks weekend after a sparkling start to November.
After a difficult end to October, with no wins in four games in all competitions, they bounced back on Wednesday with a comprehensive 3-1 victory over Arsenal in the Carabao Cup to reach the quarter-finals for the fourth time in eight seasons, where they will travel to Liverpool next month.
The Hammers had a bright start to the campaign. Buoyed by winning the Europa Conference League last season, they briefly topped the Premier League at the start of September after winning three and drawing one of their first four games.
But since then, they have only won of their next six league matches to drop down to ninth – one place and one point above us.
West Ham’s home and away league records are identical this season – with two wins, one draw and two defeats both at the London Stadium and on the road.
Their two away victories came back-to-back early in the season – 3-1 at Brighton and 2-1 at Luton – while they drew 2-2 at Bournemouth, and lost 3-1 at Liverpool and 4-1 at Aston Villa.
In the Europa League, they top their group with six points from three games. They opened their campaign with a 3-1 win over Serbian side TSC Backa Topola and followed that up with a 2-1 win at Freiburg – the former club of Mark Flekken and Kevin Schade. However, they lost their third match 2-1 at Olympiacos last week.
This is West Ham’s 12th consecutive season in the Premier League, where they have been for 18 of the last 19 years.
Their highest finish in this spell was sixth in 2020/21, but their highest-ever top flight finish was third in the old Division One in 1985/86, when they were four points behind champions Liverpool and two adrift of second-placed Everton.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
David Moyes took charge of West Ham for the second time at the start of 2020, after replacing Manuel Pellegrini, making him the fifth longest-serving manager in the Premier League, behind Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola, our own Thomas Frank and Mikel Arteta. He is also the ninth longest-serving manager in all four divisions.
He initially signed an 18-month contract, but then signed a new three-year deal in the summer of 2021 after leading the Hammers to a Premier league club-record 65 points that season.
In David’s first spell at the helm during the 2017/18 season, he ensured their top-flight survival.
His first managerial job was at Preston, where he had finished his playing career, and after four years there he moved to Everton, where he was to be in charge for 11 years.
Short spells followed as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor at Manchester United, and then at Real Sociedad and Sunderland before arriving at West Ham for the first time.
He played more than 600 games in his professional career as a centre-half for Celtic, Cambridge, Bristol City, Shrewsbury, Dunfermline and Hamilton before joining Preston.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
We have been a bit of a bogey team for West Ham so far in our Premier League meetings – winning all four times.
This is only the 13th season in which we’ve met in the League and our record against them is good overall, with 10 wins and seven draws from our 24 meetings.
Our first Premier League clash was in October 2021, when we ran out 2-1 winners.
Bryan Mbeumo gave us a 20th-minute lead, which we held on to until 10 minutes from time when Jarrod Bowen equalised. However, deep into injury-time Yoane Wissa pounced after a Mathias Jensen free-kick had not been cleared, to lash home a last-gasp winner and spark delirious scenes among the players and travelling Bees fans.
We won the return at the Gtech 2-0 in April with second-half goals from Bryan Mbeumo and Ivan Toney.
We also won at the London Stadium last season in our final match of 2022, earning a 2-0 victory, thanks to first-half goals from Ivan Toney and Josh Dasilva.
We completed our second successive double over them with yet another 2-0 win in our penultimate home game of last season.
Bryan Mbeumo and Yoane Wissa were on target in the first half to confirm that we would finish in the top half of the table.
We have also met in the FA Cup twice – firstly back in the 1926/27 season fourth round. The Hammers were in the old Division One while we were in Division Three (South), but we caused one of the shocks of the round as we won 2-0 in a Griffin Park replay following a 1-1 draw.
Last season, we lost 1-0 at home to the Hammers in the third round at the start of January, to a goal from ex-Bee Said Benrahma.
Before our Premier League meetings, all our league games had come in the second tier, for two seasons in the 1930s, seven in a row from the late 1940s into the early 1950s and then in 1992/93.
We failed to score in either of the games that season – drawing 0-0 at Griffin Park on the last Sunday morning before Christmas, before being “hammered” 4-0 in the April return in east London, with goals from Peter Butler, Kevin Keen, Trevor Morley and future Bees manager Martin Allen.
Q – How would you assess West Ham’s season so far?
A -The Hammers started the season very positively taking the momentum of that Europa Conference League win into the new campaign. They raced to a number of wins in the Premier League, made a positive start to their European exploits and still top their group and of course are into the last eight of the League Cup. In the Premier League they’ve been in a more difficult run of fixtures against the likes of Man City, Newcastle and Liverpool.
Last Sunday’s defeat to Everton was probably the most disappointing showing in a game where they only got two efforts on target. That was the final of three defeats on the bounce in eight days and provoked some questions from some sectors of the media. But the response was emphatic midweek with the Cup win over Arsenal so they will head to the Gtech in a much better frame of mind.
Q – With European glory achieved, is more Euro success, a domestic cup win or a high league placing a bigger target?
A – The fans certainly enjoyed seeing the side lift a trophy and despite the below par return in the Premier League last time out the campaign did have a glint to it. If they were to repeat the feat in the more senior European competition, which they made the semi-finals of two seasons ago, that would be seen as a fantastic outcome. The League or FA Cups also provide great routes to further silverware and having tasted glory the desire for more only increases. In reality are they a top five challenger, probably not, can they emulate the seventh of a couple of years ago, it’s certainly a target, but would 12th and a cup run be acceptable, for many it possibly is.
Q – What did you think of the Hammers’ summer transfer business and how they are coping without Declan Rice?
A – Declan Rice provided both leadership and a huge drive in midfield and it was of course no surprise that he was coveted by other clubs. He became one of three captains to have lifted major silverware for the club and will always be held in high regard. And of course replacing him directly was going to be difficult. But what the transfer has allowed is the investment in the squad. James Ward-Prowse has already started making an impact with his quality from set-pieces and his ability to chip in with goals. Mohammed Kudos looks like an exciting addition and scored a lovely goal against Arsenal, although David Moyes has admitted they have to be wise with how they use him and get him up to full speed. Edson Alvarez is another solid acquisition to bolster the midfield which Rice left. A number of observers have looked at the forward division and questioned if the club needed to add a striker, but with the prices the front men command that is easier said than done. The Gianluca Scamacca move did not work out and the Hammers, like other clubs, have found it difficult to find that out-an- out striker to bring into the club.
Q – Ex-Bee Said Benrahma seems to have started less regularly in the Premier League this season – how do you think he is doing?
A – There is more competition to Said’s spot in the starting line-up this season and he has had to be more content with minutes off the bench or in other competitions. He is still able to make an impact as witnessed last Sunday when he registered one of two shots on target against Everton. But with the arrival of new players, added to the squad depth in the attacking positions and the way that David Moyes wants to play he may have to be patient. I do wonder if talk about a possible exit will increase if he continues to find getting into the starting XI tough. We know what quality that he possesses and that he will continue to try and break down defences or create chances even if the first effort does not work.
Q – What do you remember of the four Premier League games between the sides?
A – The Hammers have been opponents that the Bees have enjoyed playing from the first Premier League meeting and the crazy scenes at the end with Yoane Wissa’s winner at the London Stadium. I remember bumping into some Bees fans outside the ground that day whose smiles were very broad.
The home win last season was also an indication of what the first half of this season might look like with a Toneyless line up. The away game over the Festive Period last season was interesting in the way that the Hammers started, but once Thomas Frank’s side went ahead the result did not really look in doubt.
I am sure that this weekend David Moyes will be hoping that he can prove that Thomas doesn’t have his number.
Q – Finally, can you give me a possible West Ham formation and line-up please?
A – Areola
Coufal. Zouma. Aguerd. Emerson
Bowen Benrahma Kudos
HOW TO FOLLOW THE GAME IF YOU CAN’T BE THERE
If you can’t get to the Brentford Community Stadium for Saturday’s 3.00pm 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.
There is also live commentary on all frequencies on BBC London with Andy Rowley and ex-Bee Paul Mortimer.
PUBS IN BRENTFORD AND TRAVEL NEWS
For West Ham 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
**** There is a train strike on National Rail on Saturday so please check ahead of your journey – there is no strike on the London Underground. ****
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.