Aston Villa’s trial by television continues with a tricky trip to Brentford. After Saturday evening’s disappointing capitulation against Sheffield United, the Bees will provide another difficult game. Three points from a possible twelve is a poor return and Bruce’s men need to arrest this form.
In three games since Aston Villa’s relegation to the Championship, two draws and a comprehensive 3-0 defeat at Griffin Park demonstrate Brentford’s ascendency in the fixture. Coming into the game after the latest disappointment, Steve Bruce must lift his men for the trip.
Brentford’s home form has been good recently. Two wins and three draws are improving their record at Griffin Park. Only winning 27% of their games, the Bees will look to taking three points in front of the TV cameras and a festive atmosphere. An away win at Norwich, last weekend, will leave Dean Smith confident of victory.
Lasse Vibe will have to be watched by the Aston Villa defence after his double at Carrow Road. The striker will have seen how Sheffield United’s Clayton Donaldson terrorized the Villa defence at times and will be looking to repeat. His inclusion is not a certainty, however, after going off after 54 minutes and his fitness will be monitored.
Brentford have only lost once at home and are difficult to beat. Bristol City, Derby and Wolves have all visited Griffin Park but only left with a point. In 11 games this season, Brentford have only scored 18 goals. However, they have only conceded 14; seven of those were in two games against Forest and Sunderland.
Despite a recent slump in form, Villa do have a decent away record. Four wins on the road against teams lower in the table augur well. What has been a feature of the away form is that teams have found it difficult to score against us. Only 12 goals conceded in 11 games suggests that we have a chance if we can get a goal.
It already feels like make or break time for Villa’s season. Consequentially, Steve Bruce’s tenure could also be on the brink. December has been littered with some bewildering team selections which must be fuelled by a lack of trust. Also, Bruce has been quick to apportion blame on player errors but not on himself for selection mistakes.
After the Sheffield United draw, Bruce has promised to “freshen it up” against Brentford. Josh Onomah is fit again whilst Gabby Agbonlahor has rolled his ankle and is a major doubt. Hopefully, Bruce will change the formation and play two up top. Keinan Davis deserves a start and he deserves a player to link up with him. Jedinak must not start at centre back. Playing him in place of Glenn Whelan should be the plan.
Defeat at Brentford will result in a drop out of the playoff places. It will also result in fan ire at Bruce increasing tenfold. At the end of November, Aston Villa looked like promotion candidates. A month is a long time in football.