Brentford will be an unknown quantity to many Chelsea fans ahead of Sunday’s derby at Griffin Park. Here’s a brief lowdown on the Blues’ FA Cup fourth-round opponents.
A strong right side
Right-back Shaleum Logan (pictured), who joined Brentford after being released by Manchester City in 2011, is somewhat rough around the edges and is stll improving the defensive side of his game, but he gets forward well.
Adam Forshaw, formerly of Everton, is primarily a creative central midfielder but has been playing on the right. Together, they’re a good combination of pace and skill and could cause Chelsea some problems, especially if Ashley Cole doesn’t play.
The midfield prospect
Harry Forrester is another young midfielder at home in the middle but who has also played on the flank. He’s caused League One teams all sorts of problems playing from the left and is very much the jewel in the crown for Brentford.
After another year or so of regular first-team football he could be one to watch – and he’s already capable of producing the odd moment of quality that might trouble even a top team. The suspension of full-back Jake Bidwell is a blow for the Bees as with him they would be as strong on the left as on the right.
The hardworking forward
With 19 goals this season, Clayton Donaldson knows where the goal is. He is also a tireless worker. Against a team that’s been prone to defensive mistakes, that could be important.
Chelsea’s defenders have come across much more polished forwards, but few can match Donaldson for persistence. And when on form – which he is – he can finish. If John Terry’s lack of match sharpness shows or Branislav Ivanovic repeats some of his recent mishaps, expect Donaldson to pounce.
Uwe Rosler is a pragmatist who is able to change tactics and systems from game to game and during games. His team can play different ways and key players have been deployed in different positions. The former Manchester City striker is doing a good job at Brentford and will no doubt relish the chance to pit his wits against Rafael Benitez.
Known for having a pub on all four corners, Griffin Park is a tight ground that will generate a cracking atmosphere on Sunday. It’s also a ground that is well known to several visiting players who may be involved, as Chelsea’s Under-21 side have played some of their home matches there this season.
There is huge excitement among Bees fans ahead of the derby but there is unlikely to be the kind of venom that would be aimed at QPR or even Fulham. That may help Chelsea and there is perhaps, from Brentford’s point of view, a risk of too much respect being shown to the European champions.
How dangerous are Brentford?
Most League One teams wouldn’t stand the slightest chance against any side Chelsea put out, even if the Blues were to play poorly. Brentford aren’t one of them. They’re a good team who are capable of winning this game if the holders don’t perform, and there’s no reason why Rosler’s men shouldn’t give a very good account of themselves and give Chelsea some problems.
But they’re also an emerging team, with the likes of Forrester, Forshaw, Logan, young keeper Simon Moore and defender Harlee Dean still learning their trade. This match has probably come a year too soon for them to have a major chance of knocking Chelsea out.