Injury issues have been catching up with Brentford, who enter this matchday on the back of consecutive defeats against Brighton and struggling Sheffield United. Thomas Frank’s men now face-off with high-flying Aston Villa staring down the barrel of losing three Premier League (PL) games on the spin for the first time since April.
The Bees still sit comfortably in mid-table, but will want to get back to winning ways sooner rather than later if they want to avoid looking over their shoulder. Being back at home could be the key ingredient to them reversing their fortunes given they boast a pretty formidable record of just four home PL defeats from 27 since the start of last season (W13, D10), a sequence that includes avoiding defeat in both H2Hs at this venue (W1, D1).
Villa come into the clash looking to strengthen their claim as shock PL title contenders following impressive 1-0 wins against Manchester City and Arsenal. With Villa Park proving an impenetrable fortress of late, improvements on the road are key if they’re to maintain their lofty position, as just 11 of their 35 points have been won away from home.
Unai Emery’s side extended their unbeaten competitive run to eight matches in midweek (W6, D2) with a 1-1 draw against Zrinjski, subsequently sealing their spot in the UEFA Conference League last 16 as group winners. It’s never easy returning to domestic action after a European jaunt, so Emery’s men will be looking to draw first blood in the capital given their formidable record as frontrunners, as Villa are the only team in the PL yet to drop a single point from winning positions so far (W11).
Players to watch:
Although without a goal in eight top-flight matches against Villa, Brentford’s Neal Maupay has either scored or assisted in three of his last four home PL games (G2, A1). John McGinn’s strike against Arsenal was his third match-winning goal of this PL season – no player has registered more.
None of Unai Emery’s 92 PL games have finished 0-0 – the most games any manager has taken charge of without any finishing goalless.