Last week witnessed the lack of any action against Leeds United, and that hurts my heart. That’s a team I enjoy seeing the Aston Villa (12th in the table) beat more than some others given recent history. There’s also the badge change that quickly went back to standard, the New Coke of football badges. I’d love to go more into the badge, I really would, but Aston Villa travel to West London this week to play Brentford.
The Bees currently sit 14th in the table, with a 2-1 record over the last three matches (0-1 to Manchester City, 2-0 at Brighton, and 2-1 over Watford) and should prove a formidable opponent. Top players include forward Ivan Toney (4 goals and 2 assists on the season), central midfielder Christian Norgaard (1 goal and 1 assist), and defender Ethan Pinnock (1 goal and 1 assist).
Villa’s team sheet should return to a more familiar 4-3-3 or 4-3-2-1 formation after a brief deviation against Chelsea. Emi Martinez returns in goal, with Matt Target to his left and Matty Cash to his right. The center-back pairing will be slightly altered, with Tyrone Mings out via bookings, giving Kortney Hause an opportunity to pair with Ezri Konza. In the midfield, Douglas Luiz should anchor with some combination of Jacob Ramsey, John McGinn, and Morgan Sanson. My preference would be Ramsey and McGinn, but the Frenchman Sanson does need to see the field more often. Further up the pitch, Ollie Watkins looks set to get the nod over Danny Ings at striker, with Emi Buendia to his right and presumably Ashley Young on his left. If not Young, Anwar El Ghazi or possibly a younger player like Carney Chukwuemeka could get the nod.
PREDICTION: I don’t really have a strong feeling one way or another about this match aside from thinking Villa will win. Brentford are playing well enough, but they’re also dealing with injuries. Villa are as well, but not to the extent of the Bees. Let’s hope the sting of the Chelsea loss, prolonged with the Leeds cancellation, is washed away and the ringing in of the New Year is done well — Aston Villa 2-1 over Brentford.