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Brentford will certainly look back on 2021 with unbridled fondness, with Thomas Frank‘s side earning a hard-fought promotion to the big time before establishing themselves as a true Premier League outfit with their early-season showings.
However, the Bees lost their sting as the Seagulls swooped to claim all three points in the final Boxing Day fixture, with Leandro Trossard and Neal Maupay both producing eye-catching finishes to extend Brentford’s inconsistent streak in the top flight.
Frank’s outfit have now won two, drawn two and lost two of their last six in the top flight, with that sticky patch seeing them enter the gameweek 13th in the table – level on points with 12th-placed Crystal Palace having played a game fewer.
Brentford’s recent away form is certainly nothing to write home about, but having posted back-to-back home wins against Everton and Watford, the Bees could now win three top-flight games on the bounce on familiar territory for the first time since March 1939.
Arsenal and Liverpool have both failed to assert their dominance at the Brentford Community Stadium – while European champions Chelsea only prevailed by a 1-0 scoreline – but facing the free-scoring leaders is a whole different kettle of fish.
Brentford lost Bryan Mbeumo to a tight calf after just 41 minutes against Brighton, with the attacker joining Zanka, Kristoffer Ajer, Josh Dasilva, Rico Henry, Charlie Goode and David Raya on the sidelines.
Frank’s midfield options have also been depleted by the absences of Vitaly Janelt (COVID-19) and the suspended Christian Norgaard, with Frank Onyeka hopeful of earning a recall here.
Yoane Wissa will likely support Ivan Toney up top in Mbeumo’s possible absence, with Dominic Thompson continuing on the left-hand side for the time being.
As for City, Kyle Walker and Rodri were not passed fit for the clash with Leicester, and Guardiola may very well choose to save the pair for the New Year’s Day clash with an in-form Arsenal.
John Stones also missed out on Boxing Day due to injury, as did Ferran Torres, but the Spaniard is on the verge of completing a move to Barcelona anyway.
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Phil Foden and Jack Grealish will both hope to be reinstated to the first XI after being dropped due to off-field behaviour, with Guardiola also potentially considering Gabriel Jesus for a recall amid the packed schedule.
Brentford possible starting lineup:
Fernandez; Pinnock, Sorensen, Jansson; Canos, Onyeka, Baptiste, Jensen, Thompson; Wissa, Toney
Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Cancelo, Laporte, Ake, Zinchenko; Gundogan, Fernandinho, De Bruyne; Jesus, Foden, Grealish