Brentford host league leaders Chelsea in the latest London derby to grace the Premier League on Saturday evening.
Seven games into their first top-flight campaign for almost three-quarters of a century, Brentford are sitting pretty in seventh place having lost as many league matches as Chelsea; just one.
Thomas Tuchel’s star-studded squad operate in a different financial galaxy to their upcoming hosts, but – as Liverpool found out in Brentford’s last home match – even the elite have struggled when visiting Thomas Frank’s bus stop in Hounslow.
Here’s everything you need to know about Saturday’s late kick off…
When is kick off? Saturday 16 October, 17:30 (BST)
Where is the match being played? Brentford Community Stadium
What TV channel is it on? Sky Sports (UK), UNIVERSO (US), DAZN (Canada)
Referee? Anthony Taylor
VAR? Paul Tierney
Thigh injuries to both Kristoffer Ajer and Vitaly Janelt robbed the Bees of two key figures for their last Premier League outing before the October international break.
Alongside long-term absentees Mads Sorensen and Josh Dasilva, Janelt is unlikely to recover for the visit of Chelsea. Ajer’s involvement is also in doubt while Shandon Baptiste is set to be sidelined with his latest dislocated shoulder.
The staggering width and breadth of Chelsea’s squad has been tested by a spate of doubts and absences over the past fortnight. Thiago Silva only returns from his international duty with Brazil on the day of Chelsea’s trip to Brentford, much to Tuchel’s exasperation: “This is the life of international breaks in 2021. Like it or not, what can I do?”
Romelu Lukaku missed Belgium’s Nations League third-place playoff against Italy on Sunday with ‘muscle fatigue’, returning to Cobham early. His German teammate Antonio Rudiger also skipped his nation’s last game of the October pause, sitting out the team’s final training session with a back problem Hansi Flick was keen to downplay before leaving the centre-back out of the squad.
Christian Pulisic didn’t even meet up with the USMNT as he continues to make tentative steps on the road to recovery. However, Reece James and N’Golo Kante’s returns to training after missing Chelsea’s last two fixtures following an ankle injury and positive COVID-19 test respectively, are a major positive for Tuchel.
Brentford: Raya; Jorgensen, Jansson, Pinnock; Canos, Onyeka, Norgaard, Jensen, Henry; Toney, Mbeumo
Chelsea: Mendy; Chalobah, Christensen, Azpilicueta; Hudson-Odoi, Kovacic, Jorginho, Chilwell; Ziyech, Lukaku, Werner
Despite operating in different divisions since their last top-flight meeting in 1947 (a 2-0 away win for Chelsea) the Bees and the Blues have faced each other three times in the last eight years in the FA Cup.
Chelsea have won the last two iterations of this clash by the same 4-0 scoreline and can boast eight victories from the 14 games between these west London clubs who are separated by five-and-a-half miles. Brentford’s last victory against their local foes came six months before Neville Chamberlain declared war on Germany.
A short hop on the District Line may be all that separates these sides geographically, but there is a yawning chasm financially; Chelsea’s number nine Lukaku alone earns more than Brentford’s entire playing squad combined (per Spotrac).
However, in the Premier League table, a mere four points is all that divides these teams with almost a fifth of the campaign already played. Chelsea naturally travel further west as the favourites, but Brentford have taken four points from their two matches against members of last season’s top six, and certainly won’t afford their lucrative visitors an easy outing.
Prediction: Brentford 1-2 Chelsea