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Brentford vs Fulham Preview: Three questions with Beesotted

Every time this West London derby kicks off, we talk to the fine people at Beesotted to get their take. As usual, they give us a wealth of information.

Brentford v Derby County - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Billy Grant (@BillyTheBee99) writes, videoblogs, podcasts for Beesotted (@Beesotted) Brentford blog. You can find their podcasts at and videos here.

Cottagers Confidential: You were so close to promotion last year, but tailed off a bit this season. Has this season been a disappointment? What do you expect for next year?

Beesotted: No one expected us to challenge for Premier League status so last season was a bit of a one-off. We had a solid then that got promoted from Division One who knew each other and bonded like a real team supplemented with a number of excellent additions - Andre Gray, Moses Odubajo, Jota and Alex Pritchard.

Once we finished top 6, it was inevitable that the vultures would come circling. So we lost Gray, Odubajo, Dallas, Tarkowski and Diagouraga over the season - all players who undoubtedly would still have made our first team today.

We bought a number of players in the summer - many of whom have taken a while to acclimatise to the championship. Admittedly these players were seen as relatively 'cheap' additions to the squad as we are unable to compete with teams with deeper pockets so the hope was - buy players with potential who will hopefully realise their potential over time.

Of those players Lasse Vibe, Maxime Colin and Johann Barbet are starting to show real quality - nearly a year later. Kerschbaumer very much has the jury out but recently he has shown improved performances so maybe he needs a good pre-season to knock him into shape. Bjelland got injured for a year or so, so let's see how he fairs when he gets back. The others we will see. But if we manage to bag four quality players out of seven bought on relative peanuts, that's not a bad deal.

So coming back to the question, if last season you said Brentford would be Top 10, I would have bitten your hand off. All last season did was raise the bar for this season – and people have been expecting a little bit too much.

If you consider how disastrous our season has been. Appointing the wrong manager. Appalling pitch contributing to the injury of our record signing on his debut.A ridiculous amount of long-term injuries to important players.Key players leaving.Players on strike. New signings taking a long, long time to bed in. Behind the scenes nonsense and politics.

It's an absolute miracle that we will possibly finish in the Top 10. Where would we be if we had actually done things properly?

So am I happy? Well we’ve finished above Fulham with their wheelbarrow loads of parachute money two seasons in a row now so what do you think?

Next season we definitely need to bolster the squad. We've got a few decent players lined up already. If we can get 5 or 6 quality players in to add to what we have and replace the players who unfortunately won’t make the grade, we'll be in a very good place.

Cottagers Confidential: The first match between these two clubs was an exciting affair. What do you think will be different this time?

Beesotted: Last season was awesome. A derby under the lights. The first time we had played each other in just under 20 years. Bees fans were well up for it. And it was right in the middle of our unbeaten run that took us from a mid table side to a playoff side.

This season in principal there is nothing to play for bar pride. Word on the street is Fulham fans are very much up for this match. Payback for Brentford having the upper hand the last two seasons??

Brentford are very much gearing up for next season. This Fulham match will be a real tester to see which players are up to it and which players are not. Lasse Vibe looks like he's finally settling into Championship football. And Scott Hogan is back scoring goals after 550 plus days out injured. NicoYennaris has gone from the ‘oh christ ..he’s coming on’ player to ‘great run .. great challenge .. excellent pass Nico’ … amazing what a different 6 months can make eh.

We discussed the match with Fulham's Magic Mod on the Beesotted Pride of West London podcast right here:

Personally I think it will be an open lively game with a great atmosphere. "Bees up Fulham Down" is still a big hit down in our part of West London.

Cottagers Confidential: Brentford got a lot of press for their use of statistical analysis. How do the supporters feel about that?

Beesotted: Typical misinformation. We use stats to help us find players and adjust our game accordingly. But so does pretty much every other team as I outlined in a recent article I wrote for Beesotted on Brentford’s recruitment system, even Fulham.

The article has links to Boro's stats-based recruitment system and also talks about West Ham, Leicester and Arsenal among other teams.

The press found out last year about our use of stats (which we had been using for years before that to assess and suggest signing players like Andre Gray, Moses Odubajo, 'Jota In the last minute' and Scott Hogan) and decided to hammer us for it - unbeknown to them (or more to the point, more convenient for them to ignore) that it's pretty much the norm in football nowadays.

The fact is most other teams are very secretive as to how they utilize analytics as they don’t want to give clubs competitor advantage. And also, they realize that not all people don’t react positively to the idea of football clubs crunching numbers to affect decisions – so they have made the decision to hold that information down.

Brentford differ from the other clubs in the fact that they are one of very few clubs that, rather than buying data in from companies like Opta or Prozone as pretty much all the other clubs do, it uses its own data. Data that no-one else has got access to. This data is generated and analysed by people at Brentford owner's betting company SmartOdds.

The key is not only how good your data is. But what you do with it. Most football clubs have in-house analysts who come up with strategies for finding new players and how the team plays on the pitch with their off-the-shelf data.

Brentford has a small team of experts working on exclusive data. This data is the bread and butter of their gambling business and has made the company millions of pounds. The guys working on this are highly trained and do this for a living outside of football. Basically, they are data analysis experts who are - in general - more experienced in crunching this type of data than in-house football analysts.

Does this give us a competitive advantage? We would like to think so. But in principal we're doing the same as others - just we like to think our approach is slightly more unique.

Cottagers Confidential: Predicted lineup and score?

Beesotted: We may be without left back Jack Bidwell who got a knock up at Hull on Tuesday but we have coped before - with two or three players able to slide into that left back role so that will be interesting. No doubt, Maxime Colin will be back - our very skilful right back. And the midfield should see an interesting content between Alan McCormack and Scott Parker.

Up front Lasse Vibe has been banging in the goals and was rested for the trip to Hull. But we should see him back. Also, striker Scott Hogan who was injured only a couple of weeks after signing is back after 550 plus days on the injury table. He has come off the bench and banged a few goals in over the past few weeks so I think it’s fair to say, he’s relatively potty for it. He will feature in some way.

Add to that the lively Sergi Canos down the wing. The ever-improving Ryan Woods in the centre of midfield. The skillful pin-point pass-making Yoann Barbet in the centre of defence. And we have potentially an exciting line-up for Saturday.All in all I think it is going to be a good game. Can’t remember what I said the score would be on our podcast, but I’m gonna go with 3-1 to the Bees here.