Real Madrid’s victory over Chelsea in the Champions League basically terminated their season, extending new manager Frank Lampard’s unbeaten start to four games with just one goal scored during that span. Realistically, Chelsea’s only remaining goal is to avoid a first bottom-half Premier League (PL) finish since 1995–1996. However, even that is not guaranteed as they are five points below their West London rivals Brentford in tenth place.
As they say, the night is usually the darkest before the morning, and Blues supporters will be hoping that they can once again compete with the Premier League’s heavyweights next season after conversations with some major names in management. However, Chelsea is currently trying to avoid becoming the first Premier League team to lose four London derbies in a single season since 2001/02 after losing three of their previous six all-London games this season (W1, D2, L3).
At the weekend, Thomas Frank’s Brentford were unlucky not to defeat a hot Aston Villa, but the Dane was nevertheless “proud of the players” after an outstanding performance. Despite the strong effort, the Bees’ winless streak now stands at six games (D3, L3), and the loss puts them six points off of seventh place, the worst position needed to qualify for the following season’s European competition.
With only six games remaining in the season, Brentford will likely need to significantly improve its solid but uninspiring away record in London derbies (W1, D2, L1) in order to close the gap to the top-seven. Although they failed to score in more than three hours of travel time before to this match, Frank’s team did at least manage to score in each of those games, a record they’ll be anxious to maintain.
Kai Havertz was one of 14 players who contributed to that pitiful haul, with seven goals (23%), the fewest Chelsea had scored at this point in a league season (30). Chelsea last scored 17 goals at this point in a league campaign, which was 99 years ago. For Brentford, Ivan Toney needs just one more goal to become the first Bees player since Dave McCulloch in 1937–1938 to score at least 20 goals in a Premier League season.
Due to hamstring and knee ailments, Kalidou Koulibaly and Armando Broja will be sidelined for Chelsea, while the former may be able to play for the first team at the start of next month.
After being suspended or ruled ineligible to play against Real Madrid, Ben Chilwell, Benoit Badiashile, Noni Madueke, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, and David Datro Fofana can now be welcomed back by Lampard. Chilwell and Badiashile appear to be the most likely candidates to be recalled as Lampard mulls over whether to go with a four men back line or stick with a 3-5-2 formation.
N’Golo Kante might be given a break after playing the entire 90 minutes against Los Blancos, but Enzo Fernandez and Mateo Kovacic could stay in the center of midfield. Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Denis Zakaria could fill in if necessary.
Against Real Madrid, Kai Havertz started as the only forward, but Joao Felix, Raheem Sterling, Mykhaylo Mudryk, Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic, and Hakim Ziyech are all vying for the starting spot after coming on as replacements the previous game.
Pontus Jansson (hamstring), Kristoffer Ajer (calf), and Keane Lewis-Potter (knee) are all out injured for Brentford, and Christian Norgaard (knock) is questionable.
When facing the so called stronger clubs in the division, Frank usually switches to a three at the back system, but with both Jansson and Ajer out, the Bees manager may decide to continue with a back four on Wednesday consisting of Aaron Hickey, Ethan Pinnock, Ben Mee and Rico Henry.
Josh Dasilva may start in center midfield alongside Mathias Jensen and Vitaly Janelt, the latter of whom scored two goals at Stamford Bridge last season, should Norgaard fail a late fitness test. Yoane Wissa and Mikkel Damsgaard will compete with Kevin Schade for a spot up front alongside Toney and Bryan Mbeumo.
Possible starting lineup for Chelsea
Kepa, James, W. Fofana, Silva, Chilwell, Kante, Fernandez, Kovacic, Mudryk, Havertz and Felix.
Possible starting lineup for Brentford
Raya, Hickey, Mee, Pinnock, Henry, Jensen, Janelt, Dasilva, Mbeumo, Toney, and Damsgaard.
We predict: Chelsea 1-1 Brentford
A goal shy Chelsea team can ill afford to lose any more points if they are to finish in the top half of the table, let alone maintain their tenuous prospects of winning European qualifying. Brentford have conceded in nine of their past 12 away games this season.
Another close game, maybe ending in a split of the spoils on Wednesday, could be in store for the two teams six months after their goalless draw in the reverse match.