A rare meeting of next-door neighbors. A block party, 63 years in the making. History! Or something.
There are some who've had the temerity to refer to this with a straight face as a derby - a West London Derby. Jon Champion, I'm looking at you. To be fair to Mr. Champion and his fantastic football-voice, the straight face was an assumption on my part. He may have had a giant smirk on his face; I guess we'll never know as the cameras were firmly fixated on the pitch instead.* Perhaps, for the sake of sanity, my assumption should've actually been that - for this one's as much of a derby as a fly vs. flyswatter is an even matchup. Or perhaps I should say a bee versus a flyswatter.
MEET THE BEES
Come on out and meet the Bees, meet the B-E-E-S, the Bees of Brentford! Compared to them, Chelsea are the new kids in town. Founded in 1889, Brentford have been a West London institution 16 years longer than Chelsea have. Unfortunately, they have not been relevant at all since the 1930s, which is coincidentally the last time they've beaten their now far more illustrious local rivals (1939, to be exact, just before the start of World War II and the suspension of the football league).
Immediately following the war, Brentford were relegated and they've spent most of the time since in the third tier. In the early '90s, they did poke their head into the level above, but just for a quick prairie dog-like glance. They're making a similar push this year, currently sitting third - a playoff spot - after finishing just 9th last season.
Having looked through their roster, I can positively say that I haven't heard of any of these fools ever. But apparently Hermann Hreidarrson once plied his trade there for a season and a bit, even winning a promotion from the fourth tier to the third. Which is hilarious since Hermann, of course, is famous for getting relegated not once, not twice, not three times, not four times, but FIVE times from the Premier League (Crystal Palace, Wimbledon, Ipswich Town, Charlton Athletic, Portsmouth). Credit to the man, he stayed on with four of the five teams, if just for a game or two, into the following season.
Brentford's manager is one Uwe Rosler, who scored a fair few goals for Manchester City back in the mid '90s. After a few more stops, he was forced to retire in 2002 due to lung cancer. Which is like ... whoa, dude, lung cancer ... at 34! Not one to be deterred by such trifles or the fact that chemotherapy destroyed all his muscles and stamina, Rosler obtained his coaches badges while recovering and re-entered the game as a manager after a three-year break. He's been at Brentford since 2011.
But don't think for a second that all Brentford's got going for it is karma (or the fact that Harry Redknapp once appeared for them - and I mean that literally, as in 1 appearance), their striker, somebody named Clayton Donaldson is the second leading scorer in League One. I tried to work in a Fernando Torres joke here, but it kept missing the mark.
Coming to ruin the party 63 years in the making are these guys. Let's hope they don't slip in the snow, right Mr. Interim Manager? His latest quotes are just beyond flabbergasting, so I'll move on quickly to avoid having to pick up my hammer again and fix the other half of the fence in my backyard as an outlet for my urge to hit things.
Missing in action for Chelsea - besides managerial common sense - will be Eden Hazard (scourge of ballLADs), Victor Moses (
DEFCON AFCON 1), John Obi Mikel ( DEFCON AFCON 2), Oriol Romeu (reading War & Peace), and David Luiz. What was previous a Sideshow Dave foot injury has now been replaced by a Sideshow Dave ankle injury but perhaps it's all just code for Sideshow Dave punching out the waitstaff after he was substituted in, half-injured and like-for-like, while Chelsea were losing by two.
Not missing in action for Chelsea will be a sense of recent history (and perhaps a sense of impending doom - can you feel it?). The Blues have won the FA Cup four out of the last six years. It is essentially the Chelsea Cup. There is no reason this match shouldn't be an absolute pasting (Brentford's worst ever defeat is 7-0, just in case). It would also be a perfect opportunity to bring John Terry back into the lineup. Or to give debuts to the likes of George Saville (alas, he was kept down with the U21s for their match on Friday) and Nathan Ake. Or to give Florent Malouda a testimonial. But ... yeah. I guess we'll see.
Date/Time: Sunday, January 27, 12:00 GMT, 7:00 A.M. EST, 5:30 P.M. IST
Venue: Griffin Park, TW8
TV Information: ESPN (UK); Fox Soccer (USA); ESPN (India)