Seeking to continue a perfect October with a sixth win on the bounce in all competitions, Chelsea travel to face Brentford in Wednesday’s West London derby in the Premier League.
The Bees ran out 2-0 winners versus Brighton & Hove Albion last Friday, while Graham Potter’s men won by the same scoreline away to Aston Villa.
Ivan Toney could hardly be doing any more to force his way into Gareth Southgate’s World Cup plans, as the Brentford striker came up with both of his side’s goals in a 2-0 win over Brighton to kick off the most recent round of Premier League.
Toney’s cheeky flick in the 27th minute preceded a coolly-taken penalty just after the hour mark, and while Brighton certainly had their chances to make the net ripple at the Brentford Community Stadium, David Raya was equal to all of the Seagulls’ efforts.
Having snapped a miserable three-game winless streak in which they only claimed one point from a possible nine, Thomas Frank’s men are still clinging on to a coveted top-half spot as they lie ninth in the rankings with 13 points, just one behind seventh-placed Brighton having played a game more.
Barring that 3-0 loss to rampant leaders Arsenal, the Brentford Community Stadium has been something of a fortress for the Bees this term, taking 10 points from 15 on offer and averaging more than two goals per game in front of their own fans – no surprise given the form Toney finds himself in.
A slice of club history is on the line for Brentford this week, as they could win a midweek Premier League match for the first time ever – losing five of their six battles on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays so far – but Chelsea have only known how to win this month.
Tyrone Mings was the giver, and Mason Mount gratefully received the gifts he was presented with from the Aston Villa centre-back in the West Midlands, as Chelsea maintained their 100% October record with a 2-0 success to pile the pressure on Steven Gerrard.
Mings initially tried to clear in the sixth minute, but his looping header only fell kindly for Mount to side-foot a volley home, and the Chelsea playmaker then sent a free kick flying into the centre of goal after being fouled by his compatriot.
There may be an awkward handshake between the pair the next time they find themselves on England duty together, as Mount’s brace saw Chelsea cement their position in fourth place – three points clear of Manchester United and eight below Arsenal with a game in hand.
Graham Potter has now overseen five wins on the trot in all competitions – the last four of which have also come with a clean sheet – but had it not been for a blinder from Kepa Arrizabalaga, that streak of shut-outs could have easily been broken at Villa Park.
Chelsea fans will need no reminding of how Brentford tore them apart in a 4-1 win at Stamford Bridge only six months ago, but the Blues won both games at the Gtech Community Stadium in the Premier League and EFL Cup last season – keeping a clean sheet on both occasions.
Brentford duo Thomas Strakosha and Aaron Hickey are both down with ankle injuries and have now been ruled out until after the World Cup, while Christian Norgaard’s Achilles problem is unlikely to let up in time either.
Frank may have been tempted to match Chelsea’s setup of three central defenders this week but may avoid doing so given Pontus Jansson’s hamstring injury, and the skipper is also expected to remain sidelined until Boxing Day.
The Bees have enjoyed the luxury of a four-day rest and could very well name the same starting XI from their win over Brighton, but Yoane Wissa’s spot out wide could come under threat from Mikkel Damsgaard and Keane Lewis-Potter.
As for Chelsea, Potter remains without the services of N’Golo Kante (hamstring), Wesley Fofana (knee), and Reece James (knee), with the latter now set to miss the World Cup after being given an eight-week period of recovery from the issue he sustained against AC Milan.
Veteran centre-back Thiago Silva will also need a once-over after leaving the Villa Park turf with tightness in his thigh, but Potter has affirmed that there is no injury there, and Hakim Ziyech will hope to make himself available again following an illness.
Potter was not afraid to make half-time alterations with his side under the cosh against Villa and will consider changes from the off here, with Cesar Azpilicueta, Kalidou Koulibaly and Jorginho all in contention to return.
Brentford possible starting lineup:
Raya; Ajer, Pinnock, Mee, Henry; Jensen, Janelt, Onyeka; Mbeumo, Toney, Wissa
Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Kepa; Azpilicueta, Chalobah, Koulibaly; Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho, Kovacic, Chilwell; Sterling, Mount; Aubameyang