Aston Villa are climbing back up towards the top half of the Premier League table after a tough autumn which saw them part company with former Bees boss Dean Smith.
Five successive defeats in October and early November ended Smith's time with his boyhood club; Steven Gerrard moving from Rangers to take over the reins at Villa Park.
Under the former Liverpool great, Villa have won four of their last seven Premier League outings, the three defeats coming to Manchester City, Liverpool, and Chelsea.
Last season's top scorer Ollie Watkins again leads the scoring charts with five, three of those during Gerrard's time at the club.
Defensively, Villa haven't quite hit the same heights as last season where they conceded just 46 times in 38 matches. They've conceded 28 times in 18 games this time around, keeping just five clean sheets.
Writing for Hot Off The Press The Athletic's Gregg Evans, expects: "It is 4-3-3 almost, but if you go into the finer detail, it is 4-2-3-1. The full-backs push on quite high, the midfield will sit very compact and then the two behind Watkins (above) will play quite compact as well, almost like inverted wingers. They just try to block off the middle of the park and go from there"
Christian Nørgaard returns from suspension while Thomas Frank is hopeful Kristoffer Ajer will be fit enough for a place on the bench following his hamstring injury. Vitaly Janelt (Covid-19) and Bryan Mbeumo (calf) could return but Rico Henry (hamstring) is out. David Raya, Julian Jeanvier (both knee), Tariqe Fosu, Charlie Goode, Mathias Zanka (all hamstring), and Josh Dasilva (hip) are the long-term absentees.
Leon Bailey and Marvelous Nakamba will miss out through injury for Villa while Tyrone Mings is suspended. Ashley Young has an outside chance of returning from a toe injury but Axel Tuanzebe looks set to be recalled by Manchester United ahead of a move to Napoli.
- Aston Villa have won four of their last five Premier League away matches against promoted sides (L1), more than they had in their previous 22 such contests in the competition (W3 D8 L11)
- Brentford are unbeaten in their last seven league meetings with Villa (W3 D4), with all three of their victories coming in home matches
- Villa haven’t drawn any of their last 15 Premier League matches, since a 1-1 draw with Brentford in the reverse fixture back in August. It’s the Villans’ longest run without a league draw since a run of 16 matches between January and May 1998
- Emiliano Buendía has either scored (three) or assisted (one) a goal in all four of his league appearances against Brentford, with the Argentinian netting his first goal for Villa in the reverse fixture back in August
One of the greatest midfielders of his, and perhaps all, generations, Steven Gerrard is bringing that same drive and determination which saw him captain both Liverpool and England to the early years of his managerial careeer.
Born on Merseyside, Gerrard spent 17 years at Anfield, winning nine trophies, including a Champions League, two FA Cups, and three League Cups. A man for the biggest of stages, he was the Man of the Match as Liverpool overturned a 3-0 half-time deficit to defeat AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League Final and also put in a match-winning performance the following year as Liverpool beat West Ham United in the FA Cup Final, the game later dubbed 'The Gerrard Final'.
At international level, Gerrard won 114 England caps between 2000 and 2014, captaining the team 38 times and scoring 21 goals. He played at three European Championships, in 2000, 2004 and 2012, where he was named in the Team of the Tournament, and three World Cups, in 2006, 2010 and 2014.
His individual awards included the 2005 UEFA Club Footballer of the Year, 2006 PFA Players' Player of the Year, and 2009 FWA Footballer of the Year. In 2021 he was inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame, having been named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year a record eight times.
He began his managerial career with Liverpool's Under-18 before his first senior role came with Rangers in 2018. After two seasons of solid improvement, his third season saw Rangers go unbeaten in the league to win their first title in a decade. Those achievements saw him named PFA Scotland and SFWA Manager of the Year in 2021.
THE OPPOSITION VIEW
Steven Gerrard told avfc.co.uk: “They’re a good team with a really fascinating manager. I like to hear [Thomas Frank's] press conferences, I like the way he coaches on the side of the pitch.
“He’s done an incredible job at Brentford and I’m looking forward to competing against him at the weekend, and so are the team. We’re on the back of a disappointing result, but a performance that had a lot of positives within it.
“I’m looking for a response and a reaction from that defeat. We’re going into a tough environment, a new stadium, a crowd that stays behind the team whatever happens. They did themselves proud with their performance against City.
“They’ve got some dangerous individuals in their team, but they’re very much a team. There’s not much ego in the Brentford squad, so there’s much to admire about them”
Referee: Craig Pawson
Assistant Referees: Mark Scholes and Scott Ledger
Fourth Official: Darren England
VAR: Michael Oliver
Assistant VAR: Stuart Burt
Aston Villa 2021/22
174 fouls - 15th in Premier League
38 yellow card - Fourth-most in Premier League
1 red card - Fifth-most in Premier League
All adult supporters must fill in a Covid-19 Self Declaration form before coming tomorrow and be able to show proof of an NHS COVID Pass or negative test result within the last 48 hours
Sunday's match is live on Sky Sports, coverage starts at 1pm UK time.
For fans around the world, the game is also being shown live through the Premier League's broadcast partners. Click here to see if the game is on where you are.
Mark Burridge will be bringing live Bees Player commentary from TW8. Joining Mark is Brentford WFC Head Coach Karleigh Osborne.