You would have gotten long odds on Fulham and Brentford being ahead of Chelsea in the Premier League table at this stage of the season. But that is the position Graham Potter’s side find themselves in — the third-best team in west London as far as form and league position is concerned.
Both Fulham and Brentford have operated in Chelsea’s shadow for many years, but now their respective fanbases are able to revel in their success as their neighbors endure a stuttering campaign. The winds of change are certainly blowing in the west of the capital.
Before analysing the fine form of Fulham and Brentford, it’s worth noting the plague of inconsistency that has infected their Stamford Bridge neighbours. The takeover of the club last year was always likely to cause some friction, and ultimately relations between the new owners and head coach Thomas Tuchel soured, leading to the German’s departure in September.
Potter, the man who had brought Brighton to another level with his shrewd tactics and recruitment, was brought in as his replacement, and it’s clear that he has struggled to adapt to the pressures of managing one of the world’s biggest clubs. Frequently, Chelsea have failed to live up to their status in the football betting market.
You’d expect Potter and co. to find their best form sooner or later, but for now they are having to face the reality of mid-table mediocrity.
Fulham finally establishing themselves
For Fulham, the initial aim this season was clear: avoid relegation.
The last two times the Cottagers played top-flight football, they dropped back down to the Championship after just one season, earning a reputation alongside Norwich City as one of English football’s modern yo-yo clubs.
However, things have been much different this season. Marco Silva, a manager with Premier League experience, has been able to guide Fulham to an impressive start to the campaign, with the team sitting in seventh place at the time of writing.
The form of Aleksandar Mitrovic has been vital in Fulham’s success. After notching an incredible 43 goals in 44 Championship games last season, the Serb has finally produced his best in the Premier League, already equalling his best top-flight campaign with 11 goals.
A few miles away, Brentford’s Premier League honeymoon is still ongoing. Thomas Frank’s side performed brilliantly last season to ultimately finish 13th, and they are going from strength to strength in the 2022-23 campaign, lying ninth in the table at the time of writing.
Frank has instilled an impressive work ethic in his team, and there have been very few games this season where the Bees haven’t at least been competitive. Some standout results include the 4-0 thrashing of Manchester United at the start of the campaign, along with their recent 3-1 win over Liverpool over the festive period.
Brentford are the perfect example of how a modern football club should be run — a dynamic, intelligent coach, shrewd recruitment, and a community ethos.
There are very few people who won’t be pleased to see Brentford doing so well, and despite their modest history, it looks as though there is a bright future for the west Londoners in store, and an exciting second half of this campaign too.