Brentford welcome leaders Manchester City to their ‘bus stop in Hounslow’ for the first time in the Premier League on Wednesday evening.
Going into the October international break, Brentford had made light work of the so-called toughest league in the world, collecting 12 points from their first seven games and residing in the European places. Yet, the Bees have been in free fall since, collecting just two wins in their subsequent ten top flight outings (D2 L6).
Here’s the XI Thomas Frank may be able to cobble together from his decimated squad against a side eyeing up a tenth consecutive Premier League victory.
Alvaro Fernandez (GK) – David Raya’s pinpoint kicking against Liverpool proved so effective at bypassing the high press that Jurgen Klopp joked he should wear the number ten shirt. Fernandez doesn’t offer the same option against another of the Premier League’s elite.
Ethan Pinnock (CB) – The same season Pep Guardiola joined Manchester City, Pinnock was still playing non-League football. Now he’ll be lining up against the continental elite as an equal.
Pontus Jansson (CB) – With his teammates repeatedly falling foul of ailments and absences, the club captain may well become the only player to start every Premier League game for Brentford if he leads them out as expected in midweek.
Mads Bech Sorensen (CB) – Starting the season as Brentford’s fourth-choice centre back, Sorensen has returned from a lengthy layoff of his own to try and fill the gaping void left by the loss of record signing Kristoffer Ajer.
Sergi Canos (RWB) – “Thomas, you know I can’t defend,” was the honest assessment Canos delivered of himself when Frank first floated the idea of a wingback role. In the intervening years the former Liverpool man has proven himself emphatically wrong.
Shandon Baptiste (CM) – With every improving performance, Brentford’s 23-year-old midfield dynamo is increasingly developing into the side’s central propellant who is just as effective off the ball.
Mathias Jensen (CM) – In the absence of his talismanic compatriot Christian Norgaard and the Dane’s obvious stand-in Vitaly Janelt, Jensen may well have the responsibility of the pivot role thrust upon him.
Saman Ghoddos (CM) – In the fleeting flashes Frank has afforded him, the Iran international may well have impressed enough to earn a third top flight start amid a spate of midfield absences.
Dominic Thompson (LWB) – As the previously ever-present Rico Henry looks set to lose his race for fitness, the former Arsenal youth player may make his second ever Premier League start three days after his competition debut.
Yoane Wissa (ST) – One of five Brentford players with a pair of non-penalty Premier League goals (the highest tally in the squad) Wissa is poised to replace the injured Bryan Mbeumo – another figure locked on that total.
Ivan Toney (ST) – In a run stretching back to March last season, Toney has only scored four goals from open play in 31 league games (more than half of which came in the Championship).