West Ham stand on the verge of Premier League safety and a European final in what could turn out to be a memorable season for the club.
The Hammers all but secured their top-flight status with a 1-0 win over Manchester United last Sunday, which took them to 37 points.
Then on Thursday, they beat Dutch side AZ Alkmaar 2-1 in the first leg of their Europa Conference League semi-final at the London Stadium – with the second leg next Thursday. If they come through that, then West Ham will reach their first European final since 1976.
Ex-Bee Said Benrahma scored in both matches and has played a key role this season, with 11 goals in all competitions
The Hammers have flirted with fears of relegation this season, and were in the bottom three in mid-January after a 1-0 defeat at Wolves stretched their winless Premier League run to seven matches.
A 2-0 victory against Everton in their next match dragged them clear and although results have been inconsistent since then, it looks like they have done enough to survive.
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 10th 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 them 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
This is only the 12th season in which Brentford and West Ham have met in the League.
We have a good record in the contests, with nine wins and seven draws from our 21 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 this season in our last match of 2022, earning a 2-0 victory, thanks to first-half goals from Ivan Toney and Josh Dasilva.
We have now 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.
This 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 last season, 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?
A – It has been the ultimate example of having a mixed season which could actually end with some silverware on the continental stage. Despite the summer spending which was done and the quality of the players who arrived domestically, it was the progress which was made in the Europa Conference League which provided some cheer in a rather drab and at times concerning first half of the season.
There were just four wins in the first 15 games in the Premier League before the break for the World Cup, and there were grumbles in the stands. The away form was particularly worrying and has remained so for much of the season.
The back end of the campaign has seen improvements and as the manager David Moyes has pointed out that when the side needed to pull out results, they have done so in big moments against the likes of Forest, Everton and Southampton.
They have also delivered some very positive moments at home in particular with the draw against Arsenal and the win over Manchester United. But I do wonder that after successive top seven finishes in the last two seasons, being placed in the bottom third this time around may be viewed as under-achievement.
Q – How important would it be for them to win the Europa Conference League?
A – There are quite a few people who I have spoken to who feel that to counteract the disappointment of an indifferent League campaign, success in the Europa Conference League is pretty important. It would certainly go a long way to giving the fans a way to remember a third successive season with fondness and counter-balance the disappointment of last year’s Europa League semi-final disappointment. It would also lead to a third successive season in Europe with a Europa League spot on offer for the winners of the competition, and after two campaigns of memorable Thursday nights at London Stadium, I think Hammers fans are hungry for more.
David Moyes would also have a positive end to what has been a challenging season where he has come under scrutiny for the first time at West Ham, and would secure him a little bit of West Ham history as one of only three gaffers who have delivered meaningful silverware, I’m sorry but the Intertoto Cup does not count in my book. Whatever happens moving forward, his three years so far at the club will be seen as very fruitful.
Q – How good a job has David Moyes done in his time in charge?
A – David don’t call him “Moyesy” has come in for a bit of flack during this season on social media and from some in the stands, as well as speculation in sections of the media, due to the domestic travails this season. But overall his three-and-a-half years since returning to the club have to be seen as pretty positive, especially if they go to Prague in early June and win the Conference League.
He has brought some structure, stability and identity to the place and has shown that he can deliver on the pitch. Two top seven finishes, two European semi-finals and potentially real silverware. Admittedly in the Premier League this season things have been tougher, but in recent weeks there are signs that last summer’s signings are starting to bed in and let’s not forget that there were the occasional fallow years at Everton when Moyes was in charge there.
The grass is not always greener and with his hunger and dedication to football there’s no reason why he won’t push the team back up the table next season
Q – Said Benrahma seems to have become more influential this season – how do you think he is doing?
A – I’ve always liked what Said can do and have always accepted that what you see is what you get. He can take on an ambitious effort and screw it wide but that won’t stop him trying again. He has the ability to change a game and can be tricky to play against. Initially under Moyes it seemed like he was struggling to find a regular and precise fit but his importance has grown, and as we’ve seen recently against Arsenal and last night against AZ he can take a mean penalty to help swing a game.
He’s into double figures of goals throughout the campaign, a good return for someone in his position and in a team that doesn’t bag that many, as well as being the top scorer in the League for the club, plus he chips in with assists. And while he, as with all players, loves to start, the impact that he can have off the bench has also been seen this year. If they are to win the Europa Conference League I think Said will have a key role to play.
Q – What do you remember of the three Premier League games between the sides?
A – The two trips to the London Stadium have been memorable for different reasons I suppose with last season’s late drama provided by Yoane Wissa contrasting with the trip this season for the Bees which, after an initial burst from the home team, saw the visitors take control and manage the game pretty effectively to maintain the winning run in the top flight against the Hammers.
Last season’s match at the Gtech coming in the positive run in the second half of the season was again a strong performance from the Bees dominating with chances and opportunities.
I suppose setting up the narrative, the Bees have the Hammers’ number… I’m looking forward to see if that continues at the weekend or if the mood music changes.
Q – Finally, can you give me a possible West Ham formation and line-up please?
A – This is a little tough as with Premier League safety almost there and a huge European second leg to come, it’s difficult to know how many changes David Moyes will make for the trip to the Netherlands.
Johnson Kehrer Aguerd Emerson
Bowen Fornals Cornet
HOW TO FOLLOW THE GAME IF YOU CAN’T BE THERE
If you can’t get to the Gtech Community Stadium for Sunday’s sold-out 2.00pm 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.
There is also live commentary on BBC London DAB with Phil Parry and Bradley Allen, with coverage starting at 1.30pm.
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
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.