Brentford host Everton on Sunday afternoon, as both sides search for an end to dreadful form.
Thomas Frank’s side surprised most with a very solid start to their maiden Premier League campaign, earning 12 points from their opening seven fixtures and even beating Arsenal and West Ham on the way. Since then, however, the Bees are without a win in five, only bringing an end to a run of four consecutive defeats with a 3-3 draw at Newcastle last time out.
Rafael Benitez’s men have fared even worse in recent weeks. Coinciding with harsh injury problems, the Toffees have followed a hugely promising start to the season with a winless run now stretching to six fixtures. Losing four in that time, Everton were most recently dispatched 3-0 by a ruthless Manchester City side.
Here’s 90min’s preview of this clash.
When is kick off? Sunday 28 November, 14:00 (GMT)
Where is it being played? Brentford Community Stadium, Brentford
What TV channel is it on? Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League (UK), fuboTV (US)
Highlights? Sky Sports Football YouTube channel, BBC Match of the Day (UK)
Who’s the referee? Darren England
Who’s the VAR? Jonathan Moss
Frank’s squad will be boosted by the returns of Yoanne Wissa, who has been absent for a month with an ankle issue, and Mathias Jensen, who comes back into the fold after being quarantined for the Bees’ 3-3 draw last time out.
The Brentford boss, however, will have to make do without defender Matthias Jorgensen who is still unable to partake due to a leg problem.
Meanwhile, David Raya remains absent after sustaining serious ligament damage in his knee during his side’s 2-1 defeat to Leicester last month, as do Kristoffer Ajer and Josh Dasilva.
Benitez may be handed a massive boost for Sunday’s clash, potentially being able to call upon Abdoulaye Doucoure again. The Frenchman has been a telling absentee in recent weeks, although could make a return to match action this weekend.
Demarai Gray was forced off the pitch at the Etihad last time out and, although he has recovered quicker than expected, the trip to Brentford may have come to soon for him.
Elsewhere, Mason Holgate and Richarlison are suspended for Sunday’s fixture, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Tom Davies, Andre Gomes and Yerry Mina miss out through injury.
Brentford: Fernandez; Roerslev, Jansson, Pinnock; Canos, Ghoddos, Norgaard, Onyeka, Henry; Toney Mbeumo
Everton: Pickford; Coleman, Godfrey, Keane, Digne; Allan, Doucoure; Gordon, Townsend, Iwobi; Rondon
Given the two clubs’ respective standing in English football in recent times, it’s unsurprising that they’ve met just once in the past 67 years. While battling it out in the old Division One and Division Two before England had even won a World Cup, the two sides’ 16 encounters produced an even record, both winning seven and drawing two – the highlights being 5-0 and 6-1 thrashings in the Toffees’ favour (in 1953 and 1954 respectively).
Their most recent meeting came back in 2010, when League One Brentford shocked David Moyes’ Everton at Griffin Park, knocking them out of the League Cup after a penalty shootout – as seen above.
It’s realistic to expect that equal record to continue on Sunday afternoon. The two sides meet for their first ever Premier League match-up in dire form, both desperate to finally get another win on the board.
On paper, you’d expect the Toffees to edge it, although Benitez still has key absentees to contend with. They’ve proven underwhelming and looked lost without the strong core of their side and, without the likes of Calvert-Lewin, Gray and Richarlison in the final third, may not turn their sorry performances around just yet.
Brentford have produced great intensity in their collective performances and remain a threat to anyone they face but you’d have to assume that confidence is low on recent form. In front of a home crowd and with their plucky spirit, however, never count them out.
It could turn into a belter but, with recent results in mind, we think the spoils will be shared in this one.
Prediction: Brentford 1-1 Everton