The Premier League returns for its final stretch before the FIFA World Cup next month. This week, struggling Aston Villa host Brentford at Villa Park. Villa have sacked Steven Gerrard after a dismal defeat at the hands of Fulham and it will be interesting to see how the players react. First-team coach Aaron Danks will be in charge temporarily and he will hope for better performances.
Brentford, meanwhile, are gathering strong momentum before the break and sitting comfortably in 10th after the draw against Chelsea. Thomas Frank will be more than delighted with the start and a victory against Aston Villa could propel them into European places if other results go their way.
WHEN AND WHERE?
Venue: Villa Park.
Date: Sunday, 23rd October 2022.
Time: 2:00 PM BST.
Referee: Darren England.
Assistant Referees: James Mainwaring, Wade Smith.
Fourth Official: Michael Salisbury.
VAR Official: Paul Tierney.
Douglas Luiz was shown the red card against Fulham, but his subsequent three-match ban was overturned, and he will be available to play against Brentford. Diego Carlos and Boubacar Kamara remain sidelined with long-term injuries while Lucas Digne is also ruled out due to a calf strain. Jan Bednarek started against Fulham, but right-back Matty Cash could take his place this week. Buendia and Coutinho could also be integrated into the starting XI, with Leon Bailey and Danny Ings failing to perform.
Experienced center-back Pontus Jansson, midfielder Christian Norgaard and fullback Aaron Hickey are still out with injuries. Other than that, the Bees have no issues following a tough game against Chelsea. Yoane Wissa could be in contention to get the nod this week with Bryan Mbeumo and Ivan Toney upfront.
A 3-0 battering against Fulham sealed the deal for Gerrard. Aston Villa seemed to have improved from a poor start, but that was short-lived as the players have struggled to adapt to the manager’s needs. A few injuries to key players, combined with a lack of creativity, have halted their progress, and they still have an uphill battle if they are to overcome relegation fears.
Emi Buendia and Phillippe Coutinho haven’t hit their strides. Further, the occupation of spaces and a lack of cohesion between the wide players and central midfielders have caused problems. Ollie Watkins has done well to get into goal-scoring positions, but his conversion rate has been poor. After a good spell in possession, they have also let goals far too easily, which has stopped their momentum in attack. Against Brentford, Danks will look to get the defensive organization right and will rely on the creative outlet in attack.
Brentford, meanwhile, have been consistently improving after a poor September. They have always remained a threat on the counter, but in recent weeks their defensive unit has stepped up. The Bees were unlucky to get just a point against Chelsea. Nevertheless, Frank’s side will look to take full advantage of Aston Villa’s poor defense with the pace and physicality of Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbuemo. The battle for the second ball in the midfield will be crucial and Brentford, as they have done in the past, will look to beat Villa in this aspect.
Emiliano Buendia – Aston Villa
Buendia has only started thrice so far, but his creativity could lead to Villa’s change in momentum. With Leon Bailey and Coutinho struggling for form, it is the right time for the Argentinian to step up and show his worth. He could start from the right and drift inside into the half spaces, where his quality had been on display in the past. Brentford are compact and Buendia is a brilliant choice to have if Villa are to get a victory this week.
Ivan Toney – Brentford
Ivan Toney is certainly on fire at the moment. He showed his class against Brighton with a stunning back-heel finish and an ice-cold penalty and was a threat throughout the game versus Chelsea. Aston Villa have struggled to deal with counterattacks and pace upfront and this game could be tailormade for Toney to once again get on the score sheet.
Aston Villa predicted lineup vs Brentford: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Young; McGinn, Dendoncker, Ramsey; Buendia; Watkins, Ings.
Brentford predicted lineup vs Aston Villa: Raya; Jorgensen, Mee, Pinnock; Rasmussen, Onyeka, Janelt, Jensen, Henry; Toney, Mbuemo