Aston Villa are facing up to life without talismanic midfielder Jack Grealish following his summer move to Manchester City.
Using the money made from Grealish's move to the Etihad, former Bees boss Dean Smith has added Danny Ings (above), Leon Bailey, Emi Buendia, and Ashley Young to an already exciting group as Villa look to improve on last season's impressive 11th-placed finish.
A 3-2 opening day defeat to Watford has been followed up by two dominant performances in the Premier League and Carabao Cup. Danny Ings and Anwar El Ghazi got the goals as The Villains beat Newcastle United 2-0 last weekend before Cameron Archer's hat-trick helped them put six past Barrow in the EFL Cup on Tuesday night.
Writing for Hot Off The Press The Athletic's Gregg Evans, expects: "I think it will probably be a 4-3-3 and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the same team as the one Smith named for the Newcastle game, which was: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Young, McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Ramsey, Buendia, Ings, El Ghazi.
The only difference may be that Watkins could potentially come in for Buendia"
Thomas Frank has ruled out Mads Bech (MCL) but is hopeful of having Mathias Jensen (foot) and Shandon Baptiste (ankle) back involved tomorrow.
Former Bee Ollie Watkins is touch and go but Leon Bailey, Bertrand Traore, Morgan Sanson and Keinan Davis remain sidelined.
Dean Smith made more than 560 appearances as a defender in the EFL. He started out at Walsall before moving to Hereford United. Smith made his name at Leyton Orient, playing 309 times for The O's during a six-year stay in East London. That earned him a move to Sheffield Wednesday before he ended his career with Port Vale.
He returned to Orient to begin his coaching career, working as Assistant Manager until 2009. He was then appointed as Head of Youth at Walsall, taking the Manager's role two years later. Smith's five-years at Walsall brought a steady rise from League One relegation candidates to promotion hopefuls, while also blooding a host of youngsters including Rico Henry and Romaine Sawyers.
Smith joined Brentford in November 2015, leading us to ninth, tenth, and ninth in his three seasons in charge. A fine start to the 2018/19 campaign saw boyhood club Aston Villa come calling in October 2018 with The Bees sixth in the Championship.
He took Villa from 14th to promotion via the Play-Offs in his first season. Surviving his first campaign in the top-flight, they also reached the 2020 Carabao Cup Final, losing 2-1 to Manchester City. Last term, Dean was named Premier League Manager of the Month for December as he crossed over a century of games in charge at Villa Park.
THE OPPOSITION VIEW
Dean Smith on Brentford: “Their progress has been there for all to see over the last seven or eight years. Under the ownership of Matthew Benham, it’s been nothing but remarkable.
“The signings that they’ve made, the transfer money that they’ve made and their progression now to becoming a Premier League club with a fantastic new stadium.
“I was certainly cheering them on to get into the Premier League and I’m looking forward to pitting my wits against my old assistant, Thomas Frank.”
Referee: Peter Bankes
Assistant Referees: James Mainwaring and Wade Smith
Fourth Official: Oliver Langford
Video Assistant Referee: Lee Mason
Additional Video Assistant Referee: Mark Scholes
Aston Villa 21/22
21 fouls - Seventh in Premier League
4 yellow cards - Fifth in Premier League
0 red cards - Joint-Fewest in Premier League
Tickets for tomorrow's game are now off sale and will not be available on matchday.
Our Aston Villa clash is not being shown live in the UK so the only way for domestic fans to follow all the action live is to listen on iFollow.
Joining Mark Burridge will be Ben Burgess.
For fans around the world, the game is being shown live through the Premier League's broadcast partners. Click here to see if the game is on where you are.