Manchester City will be aiming to strengthen their grip at the top of the Premier League table when they take on Brentford in their final game of 2021.

The busy fixture run in the festive period continues on Wednesday in the Premier League with table-toppers and reigning champions Manchester City set to be in action against the newly-promoted Brentford away from home, at the Brentford Community Stadium.

After a slightly dodgy start, Manchester City have quickly hit their strides and once again become the team to beat, cruising to the top of the league standings on the back of a nine-game winning streak in the competition. The Cityzens, who have a six-point lead at the top, have been in a particularly punishing mood of late, winning their last three games against Leeds United, Newcastle United and Leicester City with an aggregate scoreline of 17-3.

Meanwhile, Brentford have fared well in their first season in the Premier League so far, occupying the 14th spot in the table, with 20 points on the board from 17 matches. The Bees are nine points clear of the drop zone and have one or two games in hand on teams around them, which gives them scope to push further up the table. Thomas Frank’s men have won just two of their last eight games in all competitions, though, losing 2-0 to Brighton last time out.

This will be the first meeting between Brentford and Manchester City since an FA Cup encounter in 1997. Ahead of Wednesday’s encounter at the Brentford Community Stadium, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Brentford

Brentford could be without as many as ten first-team players for the game against Manchester City. Kristoffer Ajer, David Raya Martin, Mathias Jorgensen, Vitaly Janelt, Julian Jeanvier, Josh Dasilva and Charlie Goode are all out with injuries or Covid while Christian Norgaard is serving a suspension. Rico Henry and Bryan Mbeumo are also major doubts for the contest.

The Bees will line up in their usual 3-5-2 formation, with Alvaro Fernandez starting between the sticks. The three-person backline should comprise Ethan Pinnock, Pontus Jansson and Mads Bech Sorensen, while Sergi Canos and Dominic Thompson take up the wing-back slots and act as the primary source of attacking width for the home team.

Frank Onyeka will line up as the deepest of the three central midfielders and will have support from Shandon Baptiste, while Saman Ghoddos will take up the third spot in the centre of the park and look to provide the forward thrust. However, he will need to work hard off the ball and track Manchester City’s midfield runners.

Star striker Ivan Toney is a certain starter at the top for Brentford. But with Mbeumo a major doubt due to the injury he sustained in the last game, Yoane Wissa should get the nod at the top.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2):ย Fernandez; Pinnock, Jansson, Sorensen; Canos, Baptiste, Onyeka, Ghoddos, Thompson; Wissa, Toney

Manchester City

Kyle Walker, Rodri and John Stones missed out against Leicester City and might be unavailable again. Ferran Torres is no longer a Manchester City player,ย having completed a move to Barcelona. Pep Guardiola could make changes to the side that butchered Leicester last time out, with an eye on the clash against Arsenal on New Year’s Day.

Ederson is a certain starter between the sticks for the champions of England, while Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko pick themselves in the full-back positions. Ruben Dias should retain his spot at the heart of the Manchester City defence but could be in line for a change of partners, with Nathan Ake getting a run-out in place of Aymeric Laporte.

With Rodri likely to miss out again, Fernandinho should feature in the No. 6 role again. He will once again have Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne as his partners in the middle of the park, with the latter aiming to build on his strong display in the last few games.

Bernardo Silva should get a breather, with Gabriel Jesus set to replace him in the No. 9 role. Riyad Mahrez should hold on to his spot on the right flank while Phil Foden replaces Raheem Sterling on the left. Jack Grealish will be hoping to get some minutes after being overlooked of late by the manager.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3):ย Ederson; Cancelo, Dias, Ake, Zinchenko; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Gundogan; Mahrez, Jesus, Foden

Key Stats

  • This is the first meeting between Brentford and Manchester City since City’s 1-0 victory in the FA Cup third round at Griffin Park in 1997.
  • Manchester City will be Premier League leaders at the turn of the year for the third time, after 2011-12 and 2017-18. They went on to win the title in both of those seasons.
  • Brentford have won successive Premier League home games after they were victorious in only one of their first six encounters at the Brentford Community Stadium.
  • Manchester City have won nine Premier League matches in a row by an aggregate score of 30-6, since a 2-0 home defeat to Crystal Palace in October.
  • The Cityzens’ tally of 112 Premier League goals in 2021 is the most by a top-flight team in a single calendar year since Arsenal netted 112 in 1963. Tottenham Hotspur (114) and Wolves (113) were the last top-flight clubs to score more, both in 1960.

Player to Watch

Riyad Mahrez

With 12 goals and four assists from 24 games in all competitions, the 30-year-old Algerian international has been in good form this season. In fact, Riyad Mahrez has scored and assisted in Manchester City’s last three Premier League matches. He can score in four successive Premier League appearances for the first time.

Set to depart for the Africa Cup of Nations, he will be aiming to make a vital contribution on Wednesday night and help his team solidify their position at the top of the table before he flies off for international duty with Argentina.

Prediction

Brentford 1-3 Manchester City

Brentford have done well against the big teams this term, having beaten Arsenal and held Liverpool to a draw. Furthermore, they head into Wednesday’s game on the back of consecutive wins at home. However, they will come up against a Manchester City side that are in rampant form, blowing past opponents with amazing brilliance of late.

Even though the manager could make a few changes, this City squad has enough quality in depth across all positions. They should be able to extend their winning streak in the Premier League at the Brentford Community Stadium and go nine points clear of Liverpool, who lost to Leicester City on Tuesday.

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