Aston Villa vs Brentford

Out-of-form Brentford head to Villa Park to lock horns with Premier League top-four bidders Aston Villa in a high-stakes duel.

Aston Villa’s quest to secure their first top-four finish in the Premier League this century took a bad beat in midweek as perennial champions Manchester City thrashed them 4-1, inflicting a second heavy defeat on Unai Emery’s troops across their last four league outings (W1, D1). Despite starting this round in fourth, the Lions’ two-point lead on fifth-placed Tottenham, who also have a game in hand, underscores the significance of pulling off their first-ever Premier League double against Brentford following a 2-1 victory in the reverse fixture. Villa can draw confidence from rebuilding their home fortress after a dreadful three-game losing streak in January/February, clocking up three wins across their last four competitive games at Villa Park (L1), all of which came by multi-goal margins.

In the meantime, Brentford shared the spoils with Brighton in a drab 0-0 home draw in midweek, only days after Kristoffer Ajer’s 99th-minute equalizer handed them a 1-1 stalemate against Manchester United. Though those were respectable results against European-bidding adversaries, the Bees seem unable to get out of a severe crisis, which has seen them go eight Premier League matches without a win (D3, L5). With the pressure mounting on manager Thomas Frank, Brentford hit the road desperate to return to the win column and avoid being sucked into a dreaded relegation scrap. Stranded just six points clear of 18th-placed Luton, the visitors seek their first away league triumph since beating Wolverhampton 2-0 in early February. However, they’ve since lost all four such fixtures by an aggregate score of 9-4.

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