Aston Villa vs. Brentford
Venue: Villa Park
Kick off: 3PM
Seeking to maintain their unbeaten start to life in the Premier League, Brentford travel to Aston Villa in gameweek three this afternoon.
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.
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 (two) 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 game week 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.
Aston Villa possible XI: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Young, Luiz, McGinn, J. Ramsey, Buendia, Ings, El Ghazi.
Brentford possible XI: Raya, Ajer, Jansson, Pinnock, Canos, Norgaard, Onyeka, Janelt, Henry, Toney, Mbeumo.