City to battle The Bees to go 12 points clear – Manchester City vs Brentford Preview
League leaders Manchester City will host Thomas Frank's Brentford on Wednesday the 9th of February at the Etihad Stadium. It is City's 24th league game of the season and is a chance for Pep Guardiola's men to go 12 points clear at the top of the table. The game kicks off at 19:45 (GMT) and will be broadcast live on BT Sport 2.
In his press conference, Guardiola confirmed that both Cole Palmer and Gabriel Jesus are ruled out of the match against Brentford, however, he did say that Jesus will 'soon be ready' to return to action. The Catalan did confirm that the rest of the squad are fit, therefore it is to be expected that he will field a very strong side to face off against The Bees.
Ederson, Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo, Rodri, De Bruyne, Bernardo, Mahrez, Grealish, Sterling.
League position: 1st
Top scorer: Bernardo Silva/Raheem Sterling (7)
Previous result: W 4-1 Fulham (H)
The Blues bounced back in style after a disappointing draw at Saint Mary's before the break, beating a confident Fulham side 4-1 at the Etihad with goals from Riyad Mahrez (2), Ilkay Gundogan and John Stones. City are still fighting on three fronts, with the Blues still going strong in the Premier League, Champions League, and the FA Cup. As a result of this, fixtures are coming thick and fast. City's test against Brentford is the second of six matches in February.
Mahrez returned to Manchester in striking form after an extremely disappointing AFCON for his home nation. The Algerian winger has 15 goals and 6 assists across all competitions, taking his goal contributions up to 21 so far this season. Mahrez is having a fine season so far, and a brace on the weekend against Fulham was the perfect way to get him back into the fold – proving that any demons that the tournament in Cameroon brought the Algerian are a distant memory now.
Ederson will likely return between the sticks, and he will be hoping to add another clean sheet to the impressive collection he has been building this campaign. The Brazilian is leading the race for Golden Glove and if he can accomplish this feat, it would be the third time on the spin, equalling the current record of consecutive Golden Glove awards currently held by Pepe Reina and City icon Joe Hart.
Due to Liverpool not playing until Wednesday and Chelsea not playing at all in the league this week, it is a fantastic opportunity for City to widen the gap at the top of the table, applying more pressure to those chasing the reigning champions.
League position: 14th
Top scorer: Ivan Toney (6)
Previous result: L 4-1 v Everton (A)
After a dream start to life in the top-flight, Brentford have stumbled into a sticky patch over recent weeks, seeing them fall to 14th place in the league with a relegation scrap looming. The Bees have only managed to win 2 of their previous 10 matches across all competitions, meaning there are only 8 points between them and Watford in 18th. Unfortunately for Brentford, all three of the sides in the bottom three have games in hand over them. Results are starting to become urgent for Frank's men.
The Bees crashed out of the FA Cup on the weekend after being on the receiving end of a 4-1 thrashing courtesy of a revitalised Everton side. Conceding 4 goals against the Toffees will be a major concern for the Brentford faithful as it shows a lack of organisation at the back – an issue that will need fixing promptly as they are coming up against a City side that have netted 55 league goals so far this season. The Bees have conceded 16 goals in their last 5 games in all competitions.
Frontman Ivan Toney has struggled to make the impact he did in his previous season, only scoring 6 league goals in 21 appearances. In Brentford's last campaign, Toney netted a sensational 31 goals in 45 league appearances, a record in the Championship. Brentford's number 17 does have a lot more to his game than just goals however, the Englishman has enough strength and quality in hold up play to cause any side problems.
Brentford fans do have something to smile about this week, however, as brand-new signing Christian Eriksen was seen in training, although it is unlikely the Denmark international will feature in the match on Wednesday as Frank had previously said that Eriksen will be unavailable for "a few weeks". Brentford fans should be very excited at the prospect of such an influential figure representing the club, Frank claims the signing of Eriksen on a six-month contract could be the club's "greatest ever signing".
Goalkeeper David Raya is likely to retain his place in goal after returning from a lengthy spell on the side-line through a posterior cruciate ligament injury. The Spaniard collided with Leicester's Ayoze Perez at the end of October. He returned between the sticks in the FA Cup tie with Everton on the weekend, Frank will likely be relieved to see his first-choice keeper back fit just in time for their trip to the Etihad.
Frank typically sets up in a 3-5-2 formation, and I predict he will set up his side in this way on Wednesday.
Head to Head
Manchester City and Brentford have only faced off once since the turn of the millennium, a 1-0 away win for the Blues in December. The first time these two sides met was a 6-1 win for City in the FA Cup back in 1932 at Maine Road where the attendance was 56,190. The scorers for City on the day were Tilson (3), Brook (2) and Halliday.
Referee: Darren England
Assistants: Simon Long & Timothy Wood
Fourth official: Andy Madley
VAR: Jonathan Moss
Assistant VAR: Neil Davies
Written by: @CharleyLongden
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