Brentford kick off the first Super Sunday of 2022 with a tasty mid-table clash against Aston Villa at Brentford Community Stadium.
Victory would see Brentford move above Aston Villa and climb as high as 11th, whereas Villa can move as high as eighth with a win.
Dominic Thompson is a doubt for Brentford after suffering an ankle injury in Wednesday’s defeat to Manchester City.
Christian Norgaard is available after serving an one-match ban but Charlie Goode, Kristoffer Ajer (both hamstring) and Bryan Mbeumo (calf) are doubts and face late fitness tests.
Rico Henry, Mathias Jorgensen (both hamstring), Julian Jeanvier, David Raya (both knee), Vitaly Janelt (Coronavirus) and Josh Dasilva (hip) remain ruled out indefinitely.
Aston Villa will be without Tyrone Mings after the defender picked up his fifth booking of the season in their Boxing Day loss to Chelsea.
Ashley Young (toe) is a doubt but Leon Bailey (hamstring) and Marvelous Nakamba (knee) are ruled out.
- Brentford are unbeaten against Aston Villa in the Premier League after Ivan Toney’s opener was cancelled out by Emiliano Buendia in a 1-1 draw at Villa Park in August.
- Aston Villa are visiting Brentford Community Stadium for the very first time, yet are unbeaten in their last three away clashes against the Bees (W3).
- No midfielder has made more tackles so far this Premier League season than Brentford’s Christian Norgaard, who has produced 53 tackles in 17 appearances.
- Ollie Watkins has been caught offside on more occasions than any other Villa player this season, having been caught offside on eight separate occasions.
- Brentford have lost just one of their last five opening matches in a new calendar year (W3, D1, L1), of which they kept clean sheets in 2020 and 21 respectively.
Having failed to score in three matches since returning from a Coronavirus outbreak, Brentford definitely need to improve their finishing yet can take heart from a stubborn defensive display against Man City where they were superbly disciplined throughout.
Villa meanwhile need a reaction to their Boxing Day meltdown where silly defensive errors cost them against Chelsea, having word hard in their pressing on the counter-attack, although this should be a more open game which will suit them more.
I am therefore hoping that this a cracking contest given the quality within both teams who will attack more than they did last time out, but my instinct says a draw if Brentford can sort out their finishing.
Prediction: Brentford 1-1 Aston Villa
Result: Brentford 2-1 Aston Villa