Brentford and Brighton & Hove Albion will both be looking to return to winning ways in the Premier League when they lock horns at the Gtech Community Stadium on Friday night.
The Bees have failed to win any of their last three matches, while the Seagulls are yet to claim maximum points under new head coach Roberto De Zerbi.
After losing 3-0 at home to Arsenal and playing out a goalless draw with Bournemouth, Brentford suffered their heaviest Premier League defeat when they lost 5-1 away at Newcastle United last weekend.
The Bees pulled it back to 2-1 courtesy of an Ivan Toney penalty kick, but Thomas Frank was left “fuming” after the game for the way that his side capitulated, with a number of defensive errors helping the Magpies cruise to victory at St James’ Park.
Frank is now expecting a response from his Brentford side who have won only one of their last seven Premier League matches and have subsequently slipped to 11th place in the table, four points behind their upcoming opponents Brighton in seventh.
Brentford will welcome the return to home soil where they have picked up seven of their 10 points so far this season, with a 1-1 draw against Everton sandwiched in between two comfortable victories against Manchester United (4-0) and Leeds United (5-2).
However, the Bees have won only one of their last six home league meetings against Brighton, securing a 3-2 victory in September 2014 when both sides were competing in the Championship.
De Zerbi was unable to make a winning start to life at the Amex Stadium as his Brighton side were condemned to a slender 1-0 defeat against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend.
After scoring three goals in an entertaining draw against Liverpool at Anfield – with Leandro Trossard netting a memorable hat-trick – the Seagulls were unable to breach Tottenham’s backline and drew a blank in front of goal for just the second time in 14 Premier League games.
De Zerbi’s side have subsequently slipped out of the top four, but they can climb back into the Champions League places with a win over Brentford as they sit just two points behind Chelsea in fourth.
Brighton, who have picked up seven points both home and away so far this season, head to the Gtech Community Stadium after losing their most recent trip to London – a 2-1 defeat at Craven Cottage against Fulham at the end of August which ended a seven-game unbeaten run in the capital.
However, the Seagulls are unbeaten in their last four away meetings with Brentford, including a narrow 1-0 victory in September of last season, and they will be keen to take the sting out of the Bees once again on Friday.
Brentford trio Pontus Jansson (hamstring), Christian Norgaard (Achilles) and Keane Lewis-Potter (ankle/foot) missed the defeat at Newcastle and they are expected to remain sidelined on Friday.
After returning from injury, Ethan Pinnock made his first appearance of the season last weekend, but had a day to forget at St James’ Park as he made a mistake which led to Newcastle’s fourth goal before capping off a disappointing afternoon with an own goal in stoppage time. The 29-year-old will be hoping to retain his place at centre-back alongside Ben Mee and Kristoffer Ajer, but Mathias Jorgensen is an option who Frank could call upon.
Midfielder Vitaly Janelt could return to the starting lineup at the expense of either Shandon Baptiste or Josh Dasilva, while Mikkel Damsgaard and Yoane Wissa are set to remain on the substitutes’ bench as cover for both Toney and Bryan Mbeumo in attack.
As for Brighton, they announced on Monday that midfielder Enock Mwepu has been forced to retire from football at the age of just 24 following the diagnosis of a hereditary heart condition.
Jakub Moder remains sidelined with a long-term knee injury, but otherwise De Zerbi has a fully-fit squad to choose from for Friday’s contest, and the Italian could be tempted to name the same starting lineup for the third successive game.
Danny Welbeck is yet to score in eight league appearances this term, but the 31-year-old is set to get the nod again up front, with Trossard and Pascal Gross providing support in attack.
Brentford possible starting lineup:
Raya; Ajer, Mee, Jorgensen; Hickey, Jensen, Janelt, Dasilva, Henry; Mbeumo, Toney
Brighton & Hove Albion possible starting lineup:
Sanchez; Veltman, Dunk, Webster; March, Mac Allister, Caicedo, Estupinan; Gross, Welbeck, Trossard