With another London derby to look for forward to this weekend, I thought it was time to have a look at the Championship’s ‘London League’ so far this season before looking ahead to our tie with Brentford on Saturday afternoon.
London contributes four teams to the SkyBet Championship this season with ourselves, QPR, Brentford and Millwall all competing. The table looks good if you are a Fulham fan with maximum points gained so far against teams from London. QPR have played out 2-2 draws with both Millwall and Brentford, including Monday nights late comeback, thanks mainly to the impact of Matt Smith, in injury time against Brentford. Millwall have had narrow 1-0 defeats to both Fulham and Brentford to leave them rooted to the bottom of the mini league.
Despite Fulham being at the top of the London League, each victory so far hasn’t been particularly comprehensive, so we can expect another tight game on Saturday against a Brentford side who have only lost once in the league since mid-September. However, Brentford’s late crumbling against QPR on Monday night that saw them squander a comfortable 2-0 lead in injury time seems to be the tale of their season so far. The Bee’s have thrown away a total of 18pts this season from games were they had been winning at some point throughout, including conceding late equalisers against Bristol City, Middlesbrough and those two injury time goals from QPR on Monday evening. They have the players who can hurt teams in Ollie Watkins, Sergi Canos and Lasse Vibe (pictured below) but a leaky defence means that they find it very difficult to defend a lead. With 28 goals scored already this season in the league (bettered by only 7 other teams) Brentford potentially should be in a higher league position but, like ourselves, it is the defensive issues that will frustrate and worry fans.
Last season Fulham beat our neighbours 2-0 at Griffin Park thanks to strikes from Sone Aluko and THAT peach of a goal from Tom Cairney while a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage was enough to seal Fulham’s play-off spot bar a ridiculous goal swing in the favour of Leeds United. Games between the two sides are normally highly competitive so expect the same this time around.
We should have enough quality to see off our West London rivals, especially as our fortunes seem to be turning, but with Brentford determined to put the QPR result behind them quickly, this will not a be a straightforward game. Brentford are the league draw specialist this season with nine games finishing all-square but we aren’t far behind that figure with eight. Score draw anyone? I wouldn’t bet against it.