Brentford will aim to maintain their unbeaten start to life in the Premier League when they visit an Aston Villa side looking for momentum.
Aston Villa began life in the Premier League without Jack Grealish losing to Watford on the opening weekend. While many predicted them to embark on a bad run, Villa secured a decent 2-0 victory over Newcastle United last time out to get their season off the mark. Their midweek thrashing of Marrow in the Carabao Cup would have boosted their confidence.
However, they have a task at hand with in-form Brentford visiting Villa Park. Dean Smith will face his former side, where he achieved well-documented success in the dugout between 2015-2018. However, the structure and features of both sides are different, and the Premier League is a different challenge altogether.
Newcomers Brentford have embarked on a good start to life in the top division. They achieved success by beating Arsenal on the opening day and securing a draw away at Crystal Palace. While those games offered different challenges, the Villa one will be a tough nut to crack for Thomas Frank’s men.
Brentford found themselves in a difficult position against Forest Green in the Carabao Cup, away from the Premier League. The Londoners were level at the break and had to rely on their senior players to bail them out. They will need to step it up a notch when they visit Villa Park this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
Dean Smith remains without forwards Ollie Watkins and Bertrand Traore, with the duo expected to be fit after the international break. Leon Bailey is another player who will miss this clash with a hamstring problem. Trezeguet is a long term absentee for the Midlands club.
Smith could keep his team’s shape intact, something he changed since the departure of Grealish. Now operating in a 4-3-3 formation, the Villa manager likes to keep John McGinn, Douglas Luiz and Jacob Ramsey in the middle.
Ashley Young could also continue at left-back and provide support to the midfielders and attackers ahead as he makes his typical marauding runs. Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa will feature in central defence, with Matty Cash at right-back and Emiliano Martinez as the club’s first-choice keeper.
New signing Emiliano Buendia will continue featuring from the right side of the attack, although he would prefer to play more from the centre. Danny Ings could well continue shining after a terrific goal against Newcastle and lead the line in the absence of Watkins. Anwar El Ghazi should keep his place on the left side of the attack.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Young; McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey; Buendia, Ings, El Ghazi
Thomas Frank will likely retain the same lineup he fielded in the first two games of the season. With no new injuries or suspension, Brentford could have the same XI again, which has so far earned four points in their opening two games.
The only injury concerns are to Mads Bech Sorensen and Josh DaSilva. During the Forest Green game, Sorensen withdrew late in the first half with a knee problem and looks likely to spend some weeks on the sidelines. Frank also offered reassurances over Ethan Pinnock, who also had an injury scare during the midweek game.
Pinnock will start the Villa clash in a back three alongside Kristoffer Ajer and Pontus Jansson. Sergi Canos and Rico Henry will resume their roles as wing-backs in Frank’s system. Ivan Toney will start upfront in the hopes of opening his Premier League account during this particular game, having gone without scoring so far.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Raya; Ajer, Jansson, Pinnock; Canos, Onyeka, Norgaard, Janet, Henry; Toney, Mbeumo
- Aston Villa have drawn their last three home games against Brentford in all competitions.
- Aston Villa have scored at least two goals in their last five games in the Premier League.
- Brentford are unbeaten in their last six games against Aston Villa
- Villa have scored four goals from four shots on target this season, the best division record so far.
- Brentford are yet to concede a goal in the Premier League, having kept two clean sheets so far.
Player to Watch
Did Dean Smith purchase Danny Ings to offset the departure of Grealish or with a view of changing his system at the club? Questions have been asked over Ings’ role in the side once Watkins returns from his injury. There’s a probability Smith might play with two strikers going forward, and Ings could be key to this shape.
Having opened his account for Villa in a rather explosive way against Newcastle, Ings will be raring to keep scoring for his new side. The competition with Watkins on one side, Ings will have to lead by example, being one of the senior players in the squad. With a good performance against Brentford, he could provide Smith with a selection headache after the international break.
Aston Villa 2-0 Brentford
Brentford might have started the season with serious intentions, especially after their win over a weakened Arsenal. But against Villa, they face a team on the up and picking up form. Smith’s side have the firepower to down the Brentford defence, which has yet to concede a single goal from the opening two games.
We expect Brentford to experience a reality check against Villa and regroup during the international break. Despite the many injuries in the team, Villa still has plenty of lethal attackers who could do plenty of damage. The visitors should secure all three points against visiting Brentford, with Ings expected to score.