Aston Villa will look to keep their upward trend in the Premier League going when they take on high-flying Brentford on Sunday.

Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa side will look to begin their 2022 with a win when they travel to Brentford for their first Premier League game of the year.

The Liverpool legend’s stint at Villa Park has come with its highs and lows. While it has not been flawless, performances have picked up and seen them rise up to 12th in the table in recent weeks. Villa have won four of their seven games under Gerrard. Given that their three losses came against Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, it can be argued that he has enjoyed a fine start to life in the Midlands.

Coming off the defeat to Chelsea, Villa will be keen to get back to winning ways against Brentford. Thomas Frank’s side have impressed in their maiden Premier League campaign. They are currently just two points and two places off Villa in the league standings. If they secure a win on the night will overtake the Midlands outfit and secure the bragging rights at least until the next matchday.

Brentford can be a real handful on their day, especially at home. They held Liverpool to a pulsating 3-3 draw earlier in the season and can also consider themselves unlucky for not getting anything against Manchester City earlier this week. The game could get away from Villa if they fail to turn up or take the result for granted.

Both sides have an attractive style of play, and it could lead to an open game at the Brentford Community Stadium. It might as well prove to be an exciting affair for a neutral fan to witness. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up for the game.

Team News & Tactics

Brentford

Thomas Frank will be without several of his players for the game owing to various reasons. David Raya, Charlie Goode, Rico Henry, Mathias Jorgensen, Josh Dasilva are unavailable for the tie. Bryan Mbeumo and Kristoffer Ajer are a doubt for the game. It appears to be touch and go regarding the duo’s fate, and their potential return would be a godsend to Frank & co.

However, it is not all bad news as Christian Norgaard is back available following a suspension. Given the plethora of injuries, it will not come as a surprise should he or Sergi Canos be drafted into the starting lineup. Brentford look set to put out a 3-5-2 formation to offer them tactical flexibility when needed. Alvaro Fernandez seems set to start in goal behind the trio of Ethan Pinnock, Pontus Jansson and Mads Bech Sorensen.

The trio of Shandon Baptiste, Christian Norgaard and Frank Onyeka will be expected to do the heavy lifting in the middle of the park. Gerrard’s Villa are a tireless machine, and Brentford will need runners and numbers in midfield. How well they constrict the visitors could impact the freedom afforded to wide men Sergi Canos and Mads Roerslev.

Brentford’s attack, meanwhile, will be led by Mbeumo and the impressive Ivan Toney. The latter has been a breath of fresh air and could very well prove to be a major thorn in Villa’s defence. How well he can time his runs behind the visitors defence could make the difference on the afternoon.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Fernandez; Pinnock, Jansson, Bech Sorensen; Roerslev, Baptiste, Norgaard, Onyeka, Canos; Toney, Mbeumo

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Aston Villa

Aston Villa, meanwhile, also have injury concerns of their own. Marvelous Nakamba and Leon Bailey are ruled out. Skipper Tyrone Mings is suspended for the game while Steven Gerrard faces a race against time regarding the availability of Ashley Young from a fractured toe.

The Midlands side will also welcome back all-action midfielder John McGinn. The Scotland international missed the loss to Chelsea. His energy and drive in the middle of the park were missing against the Blues, and his return will now hand Gerrard more options.

With the 4-3-1-2 failing to get the best out of Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins upfront, Gerrard could decide to change his formation and start with a lone striker. It is not outside the scope of reality that the manager will deploy his side in a more traditional 4-3-3 formation.

The impressive Emiliano Martinez will start in goal. He will be protected by the back four of Matt Targett, Kortney Hause, Ezri Konsa and Matty Cash. With Mings absent, the onus will be on Hause to do his best on the afternoon.

Villa’s midfield three of Morgan Sanson, Douglas Luiz and John McGinn have enough dynamism and legs to create problems for the home side. How well they retain possession and maintain their shape when they lose the ball could help decide the clash.

Ings and Watkins have failed to gel as a front two, and Gerrard could end up dropping the former to the bench. But in case Ashley Young fails to recover in time, it will not come s a surprise if Ings starts up front, shunning Watkins out wide to the left.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Martinez; Targett, Hause, Konsa, Cash; Sanson, Lyuzm McGinn; Watkins, Ings, Buendia

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Key Stats

  • Brentford are unbeaten in their last seven league games against Aston Villa (W3 D4).
  • Aston Villa have won four of their last five away games against newly-promoted teams.
  • Aston Villa have won back-to-back away games against London based sides only once since 2011/12.
  • Brentford’s tally of eight league defeats this season is already one more than in the entirety of the previous campaign.
  • Aston Villa lost 21 Premier League matches in 2021, the most in the division alongside Newcastle United and Southampton.

Player to Watch

Ivan Toney

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Toney has enjoyed an excellent start to life in the English top-flight with Brentford. He has led the Brentford attack with distinction. He especially stood out in the draw against Liverpool, running into space and causing problems for the Reds backline. With Mings ruled out for the game, Brentford have an opportunity to exploit the visitors’ backline.

Toney possesses pace, intelligence and game sense to make decisions on the spot. He could give Kortney Hause a rough time and help the home side seize the initiative. The 25-year-old is also a force to be reckoned with in the air. All this gives Brentford an excellent target man to aim at. Should Villa look to pull back and absorb the pressure, it could play right into Brentford and Toney’s hands.

Prediction

Brentford 1-2 Aston Villa

It promises to be an open game between two managers who like to deploy their teams to attack. Brentford may be at home, but their injury list and relative lack of quality could cost them over 90 minutes. The Comunity Stadium is not an easy place to come to. However, Steven Gerrard’s side has more experience and admittedly better players on a one-to-one basis. All this could be enough for the Midlands side to secure all three points on Sunday.

One Response to “Brentford vs Aston Villa Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats”

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  1. Gomez uz says:

    Brentford is going to win

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