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It’s ground ticking time in London again for the third time in four years when we play at Brentford Community Stadium tomorrow for the first ever time and we will be hoping for better fortune than previously.

In December 2016, we were beaten 1-0 on our first visit to the London Stadium to play West Ham and three years later suffered a 5-0 loss when we travelled to the new Spurs’ stadium for the first time.

This fixture is probably one the Premier League never envisaged. This season is the first time we have ever played Brentford in the top flight of English football but they won promotion at Wembley last season and joined us in what is now our sixth successive season at English football’s top table.

We are struggling this season, no doubt about that, and we could have done with picking up something from the two home games last week. It took two late goals for Leicester to beat us and then the avalanche of goals early in the second half from Chelsea.

Thankfully, Brentford’s win at Norwich apart, results elsewhere have not been bad at all so we head to Brentford still in a position where a win would see us move out of the bottom three. We were in that position recently but couldn’t make it. A draw tomorrow would see us go ahead of Everton while a win would move us ahead of Leeds, with both of those clubs playing on Sunday. Significantly, a win would take us within three points of Brentford and with two games in hand.

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Nathan Collins came in for Ben Mee last Saturday and will deputise again tomorrow with the captain still out injured. He admitted: “I learned a lot from Chelsea,” but now comes up against Brentford. He said: “It’s massive, as always, especially with the place that we’re in, but I think that we’re ready. We know the challenge upon us and we know what we have to do.”

Mee is again ruled out and that’s a blow. I feel he’s such an influence on the team, such a leader, that he’s perhaps missed more than any other player, but a central defensive pairing of Collins and James Tarkowski has served us well previously and will again.

With none of the missing players set to return, it will be the same squad as last week although it wouldn’t surprise me to see Maxwel Cornet partner Wout Weghorst up front as Sean Dyche looks for the best option in attack.

If that’s the case, and the only change, we will line up: Nick Pope, Connor Roberts, Nathan Collins, James Tarkowski, Charlie Taylor, Aaron Lennon, Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Dwight McNeil, Wout Weghorst, Maxwel Cornet. Subs: Wayne Hennessey, Matt Lowton, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Bobby Thomas, Jack Cork, Lewis Richardson, Ashley Barnes, Jay Rodriguez.

Brentford made a bright start to their first top flight season since 1946/47. Wins against Arsenal, Wolves and West Ham saw them in seventh place in October, but it’s since the turn of the year that things haven’t gone quite so well. A win against Villa in the first game of 2022 left them in a good position but then they won just one point in the next eight games, that in a 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace.

That run was arrested last week at Norwich when Ivan Toney scored a hat trick, including two penalties, and it’s left them six points ahead of us. They’ve been considered one of the teams we could catch for some time and it’s a game we can’t really afford to lose tomorrow if we are to get above them by the end of the season.

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Thomas Frank has confirmed that he has a fully fit squad for the game with Christian Nørgaard (pictured above) and Kris Ajer passed fit and with Christian Eriksen, who made his first start last week, also available again.

Their team at Norwich was: David Raya, Kris Ajer, Pontus Jansson, Ethan Pinnock, Rico Henry, Bryan Mbeumo, Vitaly Janelt, Christian Nørgaard, Christian Eriksen, Sergi Canós, Ivan Toney. Subs: Jonas Lössl, Mathias Jensen, Yoane Wissa, Saman Ghoddos, Frank Onyeka, Mathias Jorgensen, Shandon Baptiste, Mads Bech Sórensen, Mad Roerslev.

 

LAST TIME WE WERE THERE

 

This was a night to remember. It was a fourth game without defeat and suddenly the goals were flying in. We’d been held to a 0-0 draw by Ipswich in the second of those previous three games but we’d beaten Bristol City 4-0 and, three days before this game, won 5-0 at MK. We’d even added a win at Middlesbrough in the FA Cup.

This one was 3-1 but the first half was special, as well as we probably played as well as we did all season as we went on to win the Championship.

George Boyd replaced Michael Kightly in the Burnley team, the only change from MK but Brentford were without their much sought after central defender James Tarkowski who wasn’t in the best frame of mind to play. He’d have made no difference.

Scott Arfield scored the opener with a superb finish following a move down the left that saw him receive the ball from Andre Gray. On the half hour, David Jones was fouled and Joey Barton took over free kick duties, scoring a beauty after a one step run up/.

When Boyd volleyed home from outside the box six minutes from half time, we’d scored three stunners and led 3-0. We were brilliant.

Alan Judge did pull one back for Brentford in the second half but this performance, overall, let everyone know that we were very much in the promotion race.

The teams were;

Brentford: David Button, Maxime Colin, Harlee Dean, Jack O’Connell, Jake Bidwell, Toumani Diagouraga, Ryan Woods, Sergi Canós (Sam Saunders ht), Alan Judge, John Swift (Nico Yennaris 67), Marco Djuricin (Lasse Vibe ht). Subs not used: Jack Bonham, Josh McEachran, Yoann Barbet, Philipp Hofmann.

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Joey Barton, David Jones, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes, Andre Gray (Rouwen Hennings 65). Subs not used: Danijel Nizic, Tendayi Darikwa, Michael Duff, Dean Marney, Matt Taylor, Michael Kightly.

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