In what will surely be an engrossing and intense battle in West London, Everton will head to the Gtech Community Stadium in search of their first Premier League victory of the new campaign when they take on Brentford on Saturday afternoon.
A late leveller from Demarai Gray was enough for Frank Lampard’s men to share the spoils at home to Nottingham Forest while the Bees conceded late to London rivals Fulham at Craven Cottage, putting a small dent on their terrific start to the campaign.
While Brentford will be disappointed with the end result against their neighbours, manager Thomas Frank will have surely taken a lot of positives, especially his side’s improved attacking displays and their never say die attitude that quickly endeared them to Premier League neutrals the last term, as they came back from 2 goals down once again, only to fall at the last hurdle.
The squad quickly bounced back from such a defeat to triumph 2-0 over Colchester in the EFL Cup and will be looking to get back to winning ways in the English top flight when they welcome Lampard’s Toffees on their own patch. And the omens are in their favour, the Bees achieved a league double over Everton last term, winning 1-0 at home and battling to an enthralling 3-2 victory at Goodison Park back in May.
Brentford have been solid defensively on their own turf, keeping clean sheets in five of their last six Premier League matches. Their 4-0 rout over Manchester United in their first home game of the season was their biggest ever victory since joining the EPL.
The Bees have never lost on home turf when they have taken the lead, claiming maximum points in six of their last seven matches, and they will be looking to continue their purple patch in front of goal against a rather stuttering Everton side.
The Toffees narrowly escaped relegation last term, and they find themselves in a pickle early this campaign only registering just a single point from a possible nine. It is currently their worst start to a campaign in over a decade, while they have only gone their first four games without a victory on two seperate occasions, in the 2010/11 campaign and in 1994/95.
Frank Lampard’s men flattered to deceive once again in midweek, despite triumphing 1-0 over League One side Fleetwood Town in the Carabao Cup, with the former Chelsea boss admitting that his side struggled to show their quality. They will need to gel quickly if they are to get out of their current rut, and they will be further tested against a very intense, spirited and determined Brentford side.
The Toffees endured tough ride in their trips to the capital last season, claiming just one point in their six away visits after picking up an impressive 15 out of a possible 18 points in the British capital in 2020-21. The omens don’t look pleasing for Lampard’s men.
WHERE AND WHEN?
Venue: Gtech Community Stadium.
Date: Saturday, 27th August 2022.
Time: 15:00PM (BST).
Referee: John Brooks.
Assistant referee: Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn.
Fourth official: David Webb.
VAR: Lee Mason.
Assistant VAR: Natalie Aspinall.
Every player that featured in the Bees’ defeat to Fulham at Craven Cottage was rotated as Brentford eased past fourth-tier Colchester in midweek. Defender Mads Roerslev was forced off with an ankle injury and the game against Everton may well come too soon for him to return.
Thomas Frank could still be without Kristoffer Ajer and Sergi Canos for the visit of Everton as the pair inch towards a return from their respective thigh injuries. However, Ethan Pinnock is some time away from completing his rehabilitation from an ongoing knee problem.
Frank Lampard holds a few injury worries with Andros Townsend is out until early October with an ACL issue, while Andre Gomes, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Tom Davies all have muscle injuries.
Main man Dominic Calvert-Lewin remains on the sidelines with a sore knee, while centre-backs Yerry Mina and Ben Godfrey are unlikely to feature with muscle injuries.
Lampard admitted that a narrow 1-0 win over third-tier Fleetwood Town in midweek was ‘a good indicator of where we are at’ which will not spell good news for Toffees fans, despite their success.
It is the Toffees’ worst start to a campaign for a decade and would need to get up to scratch fairly quickly if they are to climb the table once again, something they haven’t achieved since the start of last campaign when Rafael Benitez was in charge only for their form to take a hefty nosedive as the season progressed.
Everton will need something on Saturday which means Lampard has a huge task on his hands trying to find the balance of helping his side shut out a fairly confident and free-scoring Brentford side, whilst also trying to improve their disappointing two goals in three games so far.
Demarai Gray notched the equaliser in the Toffees draw with Forest last Saturday, and he again registered the only strike in their Carabao Cup victory on Tuesday, while their only other tally in this domestic campaign came from an own-goal by former left-back Lucas Digne in a 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa.
Whether Lampard lines up with Solomon Rondon up front once again is another matter, with the Venezuelan still struggling to offer much in terms of a serious goal threat. It’s no secret the Toffees are desperately in search of another striker this summer window, yet their attempts aren’t bearing any fruit with under a week of the window to go. Lampard needs reinforcements these next few days so it’s up to the Everton board to deliver or else they face another fan backlash in the coming weeks.
Lampard has lined up in a 3-4-3 shape in order to shield against their defensive deficiencies, and the signings of Conor Coady and James Tarkowski have fairly improved their leaky defence, yet they are still shipping goals, and will be certainly tested against the likes of Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo once again.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Is there nothing Ivan Toney can’t do in a Brentford shirt? The 26-year-old is yet again enforcing the idea that he is indeed one of the most complete strikers in the English top flight with his superb performances for the Bees. He was sensational against Manchester United, and put in another show-stopping performance against rivals Fulham in their 3-2 defeat.
It won’t be long before Toney is garnering interest from England’s top clubs in the near future, and is building on last season’s 14 goal tally with 2 goals and 2 assists already in just three games. An all-action striker, who’s not only potent in and around the penalty area but a stylish and terrific outlet when creating chances for his teammates.
His assist for Mbeumo’s strike in the 4-0 demolition of Manchester United was simply outstanding, encapsulating just how pivotal he is to Thomas Frank’s system in West London. So far this campaign, he’s created two big chances, and registered 2.3 key passes per game.
“If you want to be a top player you need to work hard, constantly reflect and want to learn and then of course you need to have that confidence that he’s got so naturally,” his manager recently told reporters (via the Evening Standard). “He’s coming across so fantastically: he’s humble, calm, but with a mindset of a lion.”
Indeed, if he carries on this terrific form in the next few months, don’t be surprised to see him on the plane representing the Three Lions at the World Cup in Qatar in November. He deserves Gareth Southgate’s undivided attention.
Demarai Gray’s goal equaliser against Nottingham Forest last weekend was simply stunning, taking on Pickford’s long punt up the pitch in his stride deliciously before expertly slotting the ball past Dean Henderson in the Forest net.
This is a player growing in confidence, and with Anthony Gordon’s immediate future at Goodison Park up in the air, Gray will again be Frank Lampard’s go to man to deliver when the team needs it most.
It will be a huge blow if Everton were to lose Gordon to Chelsea, considering the energy, enthusiasm and dynamism he offers Lampard, but he doesn’t quite offer the same goal threat as Demarai Gray does and that’s why the former Leicester man is Everton’s key player this season, especially in Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s absence.
The Toffees will be hoping Gray can find the consistency that has somewhat eluded him during his career, and if Lampard can help the 26-year-old get back to his best levels, then there is no reason why the Toffees can improve on last seasons struggles. He is just as pivotal as Anthony Gordon, it’s a shame most Toffees fans don’t appreciate that.
Brentford predicted XI vs Everton: Raya (GK); Hickey, Jansson, Mee, Henry; Dasilva, Norgaard, Jensen; Mbeumo, Toney, Wissa.
Everton predicted XI vs Brentford: Pickford (GK); Holgate, Coady, Tarkowski; Mykolenko, McNeil, Iwobi, Patterson; Gordon, Rondon, Gray.