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Match Preview: Brentford v Aston Villa - Can Villa continue stunning top four push?

Villa look for a third league win in a row after the high of beating Manchester City and Arsenal. Here’s everything you need to know prior to kick-off!

Aston Villa v Arsenal FC - Premier League Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

The Build-Up

Aston Villa’s remarkable season continues with a trip to the Gtech Community Stadium to face Thomas Frank’s Brentford.

Unai Emery’s side are fresh off the back of a monumental week and one that has caused them to re-evaluate their ambitions for the campaign.

Back-to-back wins at Villa Park over Manchester City and Arsenal via goals from Leon Bailey and John McGinn moved Villa above Pep Guardiola’s side into third, just a point off the Gunners and two points off leaders Liverpool.

Villa would have begun the campaign hoping to break the glass ceiling of the top five and be in with a shout of claiming a place in the Champions League, but now they are in a position where they could be top of the table at Christmas with a significant buffer to fifth, should the next couple of results go their way.

Whilst the supporters are allowed to dream, Emery and the players will be taking it one match at a time and Brentford will be a difficult obstacle for them as they look to continue their assault on the league’s summit.

On Thursday, Villa sealed their progression to the last-16 of the Europa Conference League as winners of Group E as they drew 1-1 away at Zrinjski Mostar, with Nicolo Zaniolo claiming his first goal in Claret and Blue. The Italian will be hoping that the goal will kickstart his Villa career.

HSK Zrinjski v Aston Villa FC: Group E - UEFA Europa Conference League 2023/24 Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images

But Brentford isn’t a happy hunting ground for Villa, who have failed to win in their last seven trips to West London, with their last victory at Brentford coming in an FA Cup victory in 1953. Should they claim their first triumph at the Gtech Community Stadium, they will consolidate their position in the top four and could even go top of the table if Arsenal and Liverpool drop points.

The corresponding fixture last season saw Villa claim a crucial 1-1 draw in their charge towards the top seven, with a last-minute Douglas Luiz goal salvaging a point after Ivan Toney had put the hosts ahead early in the second half. Neither of those players will be involved on Sunday.

Thomas Frank’s Bees come into Sunday’s fixture on a run of just two wins in their last six games and off the back of back-to-back defeats. Last time out, Brentford lost 1-0 away at Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United via a spectacular strike from James McAtee. That result left them in 11th place, two points off the top half.

Team News

Villa will be without key midfielder Luiz and left-back Lucas Digne for the trip to West London after they each picked up their fifth booking of the campaign against Arsenal, while Unai Emery said on Friday that Youri Tielemans and Bailey are both fitness doubts as Villa’s early-season fixture congestion piles up. If Bailey and Tielemans are fit, they will likely keep their places in the team after impressing in recent weeks. If not, we’ll surely see Moussa Diaby and potentially even Leander Dendoncker.

Diego Carlos may come back into the side after being rested against Mostar. Álex Moreno and Jacob Ramsey are in line for their first domestic starts of the season after they both played against Mostar on Thursday.

Villa are also without Bertrand Traore with a muscle injury whilst Emi Buendia and Tyrone Mings remain on the sidelines with ACL injuries.

Brentford are also without several key first-team players for the visit of Villa, with Bryan Mbeumo, Rico Henry, Aaron Hickey, Kevin Schade, Kristoffer Ajer, Jay Dasilva, Nathan Collins, and Mathias Jensen out with knee, thigh, ankle, and hip injuries respectively. Toney is still banned due to breaching betting rules.

Neal Maupay will lead the line in Mbuemo’s absence whilst Ben Mee will partner Ethan Pinnock in the heart of the defence to cover for the missing Collins and Ajer.

Aston Villa v Arsenal FC - Premier League Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

Likely Lineups

Brentford (4-3-3)

Flekken; Ghoddos, Mee, Pinnock, Janelt; Onyeka, Norgaard, Baptiste; Lewis-Potter, Maupay, Wissa

Aston Villa (4-2-2-2)

Martinez; Konsa, Carlos, Pau, Moreno; Kamara, Tielemans; Ramsey, McGinn; Watkins, Diaby

Score Prediction

Given their excellent recent form and Brentford’s injury crisis, Villa will be confident of continuing their charge up the Premier League and claiming their fifth league win in six matches and shoring up their position in the top four in the process.

A third consecutive league clean sheet could even be on the cards given that Brentford are without three of their main attacking players in Mbeumo, Schade, and Toney.

Prediction: Brentford 0 Aston Villa 2