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Preview: Aston Villa vs. Brentford - prediction, team news, lineups1. Copy link and paste it to
27/08/2021 14:38:24

Seeking to maintain their unbeaten start to life in the Premier League, Brentford travel to Aston Villa in gameweek three on Saturday afternoon (3:00PM, 28 Aug).


Dean Smith's side advanced in the EFL Cup with a 6-0 thrashing of Barrow in midweek, while the Bees also advanced with a nail-biting 3-1 success over Forest Green Rovers.


Match preview


There may be a new name in town following the departure of Villa talisman Jack Grealish, as 20-year-old striker Cameron Archer took home the match ball after claiming a hat-trick in his side's 6-0 cup win over Barrow, where Anwar El Ghazi (2) and Frederic Guilbert also made the net ripple.


Life without Grealish began in the worst possible manner for Smith with that 3-2 defeat to Watford on the opening weekend, but the Villans found their groove in front of the home crowd last weekend, as El Ghazi and Danny Ings's stunning overhead kick propelled Villa to their first win of the season over Newcastle United.


Having struggled time and time again to get over the line at home earlier in 2021, Villa have now taken seven points from the last nine on offer at Villa Park, while their tally of four goals from four shots on target represents the only 100% record of its kind in the 2021-22 Premier League.


Of course, Smith engineered several successes over Villa during his three years in the Brentford dugout between 2015 and 2018, but the 50-year-old cannot allow sentiment to creep in this weekend, especially with the hosts unbeaten in first Premier League meetings with newly-promoted teams since 2008.


Furthermore, Villa have found the back of the net twice in each of their last five Premier League matches; the last time they improved on that feat was seven in a row during their title-winning 1980-81 season - potentially a promising open - but their opponents already have the look of an established Premier League side.


Crystal Palace putting up more of a fight than Arsenal against a newly-promoted side should come as a surprise these days, as Thomas Frank's side travelled to Selhurst Park buoyed by a 2-0 opening-day win over the Gunners in front of their home faithful.


However, the Bees were unable to sting the Eagles during a drab goalless stalemate in gameweek two, and Frank's side were then given quite the scare in the EFL Cup against Forest Green, as Jack Aitchison's opener saw the League Two side take a 1-0 lead into the half-time interval.


Forced to call upon some of the big boys, Brentford found themselves level on the hour mark through new arrival Yoane Wissa before Bryan Mbeumo and Marcus Forss ultimately saved their side from the embarrassment of an EFL Cup giant killing.


With four points and two clean sheets to show from two Premier League games so far this term, Brentford have proven that they are here to stay and now have the opportunity to become just the third newly-promoted team in Premier League history to start a season with three straight clean sheets.


Villa failed to win any of their six Championship meetings with Brentford between 2016 and 2019, but while the Bees managed to claim three victories on home soil, the other three encounters at Villa Park all ended with the spoils shared.


Team News


Aston Villa boss Smith is "hopeful" that Ollie Watkins will be fit in time to face his former club, but the striker may have to wait until after the international break to make his return to action alongside Bertrand Traore.


Leon Bailey is more of a doubt after his hamstring injury flared up again, while Trezeguet is a long-term absentee and Morgan Sanson is still building up his fitness after a knee injury.


After giving the youngsters a chance to impress in midweek, Smith will revert to his strongest XI here as the likes of Emiliano Martinez, Tyrone Mings, John McGinn and Emi Buendia all return to the fold.


Brentford boss Frank offered a reassuring update on Ethan Pinnock after an injury scare against Forest Green, but Mads Sorensen was a late first-half withdrawal with a knee problem and could be set for a spell on the sidelines.


However, Kristoffer Ajer and Pontus Jansson were always going to return to a three-man defence here, with Sergi Canos and Rico Henry returning to their favoured wide roles.


Ivan Toney is yet to fire in the Premier League after his 33-goal haul last season, but Frank is confident that the 25-year-old will soon find his groove alongside strike partner Mbeumo.


Aston Villa possible starting lineup:

Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Young; Luiz, McGinn, J. Ramsey; Buendia, Ings, El Ghazi


Brentford possible starting lineup:

Raya; Ajer, Jansson, Pinnock; Canos, Norgaard, Onyeka, Janelt, Henry; Toney, Mbeumo


We say: Aston Villa 1-0 Brentford


Brentford's defensive resilience will be broken at some point, and while Villa still have some concerns on the attacking front to work around, it is difficult to see Smith's men not finding the back of the net here.


The visitors undoubtedly deserve credit for their solid start to life in the big time, but their momentum may be halted here as Smith's side aim to grind out a hard-fought win.


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