Brentford intentions to qualify for Europe have been hindered by their Premier League (PL) winless streak of five games (D2, L3), even though manager Thomas Frank believes that, it shouldn’t even be possible for a team with their riches. He’ll be focused on turning things around as soon as possible because they appear to be facing a very difficult stretch of games, including the final one at home against Manchester City.
Having won all four league head-to-head meetings held here this millennium, the Bees could fancy their chances in this one and closing the seven-point gap. However, the run up includes welcome in form Aston Villa to West London. Given that their most recent 2-1 setback to Newcastle was their first home loss in the Premier League (W5, D5) in 11 games, Frank must believe that if his team’s fortunes is going to turn around anyplace, it should do so right here.
The relegation-threatened Villa squad Unai Emery took over in November is now in a position to qualify for Europe after five straight Premier League victories, so the threat posed by a resurgent Villa club cannot be discounted. For the first time since April 1998 under John Gregory, when they eventually finished seventh, they managed five straight top flight victories.
The Villans can see themselves improving after thrashing Newcastle 3-0 the last time they played, especially if they continue to be a threat on the road. Their only PL away loss since the beginning of November came at Manchester City (W6, D1). Another quick start could be all they need to secure a rare victory at this venue, as they had a 25 minutes advantage in each of the previous three games.
While Ollie Watkins of Aston Villa has scored in a club record six straight league away games and assisted on more Premier League goals than anybody else since the post World Cup resumption (G12, A3), Ivan Toney has scored before halftime in two of Brentford’s previous four games.
Brentford’s starting XI might alter this week from the lineup that started their loss against Wolves if Thomas Frank decides to shuffle his team in an effort to find some form.
Due to injury absences, switching back to a three man defense might be challenging in the meanwhile, Yoane Wissa and Mikkel Damsgaard are at the front of the line for further consideration.
While Pontus Jansson’s recent thigh injury has not only ended his season but also put an end to a good stint with the club, the Swedish defender will be returning to Malmo this summer, leaving the Bees without both Kristoffer Ajer and Keane Lewis-Potter.
Ollie Watkins and Ezri Konsa, both ex-Brentford players, will play against their old team on Saturday. This season, Watkins has already surpassed his previous high-level tally of 14 goals, and he now seeks to become the first Aston Villa player to score 15 or more Premier League goals since Christian Benteke did so ten years ago.
Birmingham-born Jacob Ramsey, who plays advanced midfield, has contributed to five goals in his past five games, which is more than he had in his previous 37, and Boubacar Kamara and Philippe Coutinho may be able to make it back in time to join him in Villa’s matchday squad.
Leon Bailey is expected to miss out once more due to a hamstring issue, although usual right back Matty Cash wants to be included after recovering from his calf injury.
Brentford possible starting lineup
Raya, Hickey, Mee, Pinnock, Henry, Jensen, Norgaard, Damsgaard, Mbeumo, Toney and Wissa.
Aston Villa possible starting lineup
Martinez, Young, Konsa, Mings, Moreno, Dendoncker, Luiz, McGinn, Buendia, Ramsey and Watkins.
We predict: Brentford 2-2 Aston Villa
A direct confrontation between two teams that aren’t afraid to push forward and make an impression might be in store. Due to a modest sense of overachievement, there is less pressure on both teams in some ways, which could lead to an all-square result in a game that is back and forth and features multiple goals.