West Ham are having a great season, challenging for a place in the top four of the Premier League for the second season in a row, as well as for success in the Europa League.
Coming into this weekend’s league fixtures, the Hammers are sixth in the table, three points behind both Spurs and Arsenal but having played more games than each of them.
And they are also in with a good chance of reaching the Europa League semi-finals, following their 1-1 draw with Lyon in the first leg of their quarter-final on Thursday.
West Ham’s home form in the Premier League has been much better than their away form this season – in fact they are due an away win, having not picked up three points in any of their four league matches on the road since winning at Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day.
Their fixture list has been quite unbalanced as they have played seven Premier League home games in that time.
They have collected 30 points from their 16 home league matches, and 21 from their 15 away games.
It has been a long season for the Hammers, who have already played 15 games in other competitions – nine in the Europa League with at least one more to come, three in the FA Cup and three in the Carabao Cup.
They topped their Europa League group with four wins, a draw and a defeat from their six games, before hitting back from a 1-0 first leg deficit to beat Sevilla 2-0 after extra-time in the second leg of their round of 16 tie at the London Stadium, with Ukrainian international Andriy Yarmoleko hitting an emotional winner.
Then in this Thursday’s tie at home to Lyon, West Ham’s first European quarter-final since 1981, they overcame the sending-off of Aaron Cresswell to draw 1-1 with Lyon, who equalised after Jarrod Bowen had given the Hammers a 52nd-minute lead. The second leg is next Thursday.
In the FA Cup, West Ham beat Leeds and Kidderminster before going out at Southampton in round five, while in the Carabao their run ended at Spurs after they had knocked out both Manchester clubs.
In the Hammers side on Sunday should be former Brentford striker Said Benrahma. He’s in his second season with the club after spending just over two years with us. He joined West Ham initially on loan at the end of the 2020 summer transfer window, before making the move permanent in January last year.
In his time as a Bee, he was part of the famous BMW front line and scored 30 goals in 94 games for us in all competitions.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
David Moyes took charge of West Ham for the second time at the start of 2020, after replacing Manuel Pellegrini.
He initially signed an 18-month contract, but then signed a new three-year deal last summer after leading them to a Premier league club-record 65 points last 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 first arriving at West Ham for the first time.
David has managed 614 Premier League matches, with only Arsene Wenger (828), Ferguson (810) and Harry Redknapp (641) being in charge of more.
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
This is only the 11th season in which Brentford and West Ham have met in the League.
We have a good record in the contests, with seven wins and seven draws from our 21 meetings.
Before this season, all our 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.
That was it until the sides met again in the Premier League last October, 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.
BBC Radio London commentator and presenter Phil Parry looks at West Ham’s season, discusses why Declan Rice has been valued at £150m by the Hammers, and assesses ex-Bee Said Benrahma’s impact at the London Stadium.
Q – How would you assess West Ham’s season?
A – I think that it has been another really positive season under David Moyes, who recently won the London Football Awards “Manager of the Year” accolade for the second successive season. With a tight-knit squad, and no overspending on players, they have progressed to within touching distance of a European final and are still in the shake-up when it comes to a top four finish.
The London Stadium, while not the Boleyn Ground, has started to feel like home, helped in no small part by big days and nights such as the last two home Europa League encounters. They have players who can excite, such as Benrahma, Bowen and Antonio, combined with defensive solidity and grit, and no small amount of real quality scattered throughout the team.
Whatever happens over the next few weeks, it has been a positive year I would suggest for the Hammers and heading into the last month-and-a-half of the season with so much on the line is testament to that.
Q – What is the bigger target for the Hammers – a top four place or winning the Europa League – or can they do the double?
A – After Thursday night’s draw with Lyon and the current shape of the Premier League I would say that everything is still to play for. It was a shame for the Hammers that despite being down to 10 on the field they couldn’t hold on to that narrow lead over Lyon, but did the French side show enough to suggest that the second leg is a scary prospect, many would say no.
Of course there’s either Frankfurt or Barcelona in a possible semi-final, but the reality is that West Ham could get to the Europa League final without having to win any more games, draws and penalty shoot-outs could be enough – remember Huddersfield in the Championship play-offs when they got promoted. Of course David Moyes’s team have shown that they can get the big wins, and surely belief must have grown after seeing off Sevilla.
As for the top four, the Hammers have played more games than their rivals, but Arsenal and Spurs have to face each other and have other challenging games, while Manchester United do not convince. Being back in the Europa League at least is a realistic prospect, but there could be so much more still.
The Europa League is a route to the Champions League of course, so surely most fans would love the glory of European success rather than a nice prize of a fourth spot.
Q – Declan Rice has been valued by West Ham at £150m – what does he bring to the team and how much has he improved over the past 12-18 months?
A – Declan has continued to develop as both an accomplished and talented player, as well as a real leader who will no doubt wear the captain’s armband for England. Could he even emulate the great Bobby Moore and lead both club and country to silverware?
He is a now one of the crucial cogs in the West Ham machine reading the opposition, breaking up play then driving his side forward into attack mode. He has superb fitness levels and game knowledge, which allow him to be an influence on the game in every area of the pitch. The fact that he’s talked about as a potential central defender as well as a central midfielder indicates just how much Rice has to offer.
His maturity as a leader has also come to the fore in the last year or so, following in the footsteps of the likes of Moore, Bonds and Noble, Declan could be the captain for the next decade or more, although he is a player who will continue to attract interest from outside of East London.
Q – Bees fans will welcome back Said Benrahma on Sunday – how much of an impact has he had for the Hammers this season?
A – Said is a player who can make the opposition think about him, therefore allowing others the space to do their thing. He has featured in all but four of the Hammers’ Premier League games so far as well as being involved in Europe, and while most of his appearances have been from the start, he is a player liable to make way for a replacement at some point in the game.
Perhaps he will be a little disappointed with a goal return of nine (six in the League) but he retains that capacity of being able to create for others and will never stop in his pursuit of looking for opportunities. In any team you need a range of types of player and Said provides something which would be missed if he wasn’t there.
Q – What do you remember of the Bees’ victory at the London Stadium in October?
A – I suppose the most stand-out memory is the nature and more importantly the timing of the winner for the Bees. Myself and Billy Reeves bumped into some fans who’d travelled from West to East as we walked back to Hackney Wick station and there was still a real buzz in the air. It was another game which helped grow the “Legend of Wissa” following on from his late equaliser against Liverpool the week before It was also a game which typified in many respects how tough the Premier League can be, and how much is required to get a result away from home.
Q – Apart from Rice and Benrahma, who else should Brentford fans look out for in the West Ham team?
A – It might seem like an obvious thing to say, but one of the most important factors with the Hammers is the collective not just the individual. The team ethos is key to their success and while particular players can stand out, their recent success has been an acceptance that it is not just about one or two stars.
Michail Antonio started the season in fine goalscoring style, but his relative drought in front of the posts has been compensated for by the form of Jarrod Bowen, another big goal this week of course against Lyon. Tomas Soucek has continued to be a hugely important partner for Declan Rice in the middle of the park while Craig Dawson has again stepped forward in defence.
It’s obviously been a very difficult time for Andriy Yarmalenko, but he has come off the bench a couple of times in recent weeks to great effect, so it may be worth watching out for him and keep an eye out for defender Ben Johnson, the cousin of BBC Radio London and England’s Paul Parker
Q – Finally can you give me a possible Hammers line-up and formation please?
A – It will be interesting to see how many changes David Moyes will make after Thursday night and with the second leg to come .. but here goes:
Coufal Dawson/Diop Zouma Cresswell
Bowen Benrahma Fornals
HOW TO FOLLOW THE GAME IF YOU CAN’T BE THERE
If you can’t get to the Brentford Community Stadium for Sunday’s sold-out 2.00pm kick-off, there are various ways of following the game.
Radio – There will be live commentary on BBC Radio London Digital.
iFollow – If you want Brentford commentary, iFollow audio coverage is available via monthly or seasonal passes. Coverage starts half an hour before kick-off and is advert-free, with Mark Burridge and Karleigh Osborne.
PUBS IN BRENTFORD AND TRAVEL NEWS
For West Ham fans coming to the Brentford Community Stadium for their side’s first competitive visit, 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 (still very lively but easier to get a pint)
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 (very busy on match days)
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.