Chelsea and Brentford are geographic rivals and thus will be contesting a West London Derby, though one should not expect fireworks on the level of other major English rivalries such as the North London or Merseyside Derbies. Chelsea’s own rivalries with Spurs and Arsenal and Liverpool are several magnitudes more intense than any supposed rivalry we might have with Brentford. After all, this will be only our 14th meeting all-time and only the third since 1950. That said, thanks to our (in)famous last meeting, this might get a bit ... emotional. Cathartic?
Four years ago, Brentford were one of the better teams in League One and Chelsea were defending European Champions in the middle of a CRISIS. What else is new, right? Except this time it was a true crisis (including the shaky 2-2 draw at Griffin Park), with perhaps the most despised manager in our history in charge of the club and results on the pitch matching the often toxic atmosphere in the stands. To their credit, Benitez and Chelsea recovered to finish top four and even win the Europa League, but those harsh feelings have not quite dissipated just yet throughout the intervening adventures. That’s really nothing to do with Brentford, but you know, guilt by association and all that jazz.
Nowadays, Brentford are a mid-table Championship side with aspirations of far greater things. Chelsea meanwhile are flying high in the league and everything seems to be going rather hunky-dory.
So let’s keep those good times rolling and get a good start to the upcoming week wherein back-to-back games against Liverpool and Arsenal loom.
Date / Time: Saturday, January 28, 2017, 15:00 GMT; 10am EST; 8:30pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Michael Oliver — Chelsea broke a streak of 7 winless under Mr. Oliver’s watchful gaze with the 2-1 win over Spurs earlier this season. One of those 7 games was our exit from last year’s FA Cup with the 2-0 loss at Everton.
Forecast: Possible sunny spells!
On TV: none (UK); Fox Sports 1 (USA);
Streaming online: Fox Soccer 2Go (USA); Chelsea TV (radio, int’l)
Chelsea team news: Conte made nine changes (ten, if you’re counting positions instead of players) and similar is expected today, perhaps more. The head coach has already confirmed starts for Begovic, Ake, Chalobah, Loftus-Cheek, and Batshuayi, with the rest of the spots in the 3-4-3 expected to be occupied by other backups and youth. This may or may not be Branislav Ivanović’s last game for the club, while youngsters Kenedy and Charly Musonda await their fates (will they stay? will they go on loan?).
There are no injuries and no suspensions for the Blues, who beat League One Peterborough United in the third round.
Brentford team news: The Bees started the season well enough, with five wins and just three losses in their first ten games vaulting them into 5th place. Since then however, they’ve won just 4 of 17 and are stuck solidly in mid-table. To make matters worse, leading scorer Scott Hogan is likely on his way out, possibly to a Premier League team, before the end of the month.
Brentford do have talent, including of course former Chelsea great hope Josh McEachran, Arsenal castoff Nico Yennaris, St. Kitts international Romaine Sawyers, and Hogan’s replacement, the former Dutch U21 international Florian Jozefzoon, but Chelsea should be winning this one. Brentford smashed non-league Eastleigh 5-1 in the previous round of the FA Cup.
Interesting side story: right back Maxime Colin came through with N’Golo Kanté at Boulougne. ESPN’s Liam Twomey had a really nice interview with Colin the other day, which you should read.
Previously: Chelsea’s 4-0 win in the replay four years ago.