Josep Guardiola’s side have had mixed fortunes this season. Periods of good football, like their 5 straight wins across all competitions in October and then the negative run of form in the following month and early December when they went 4 league games on the bounce without a win.
One bit of City’s woes are compounded by the continuous fitness issues of Belgian playmaker Kevin de Bruyne, who has been out for the last 2 months and was included in the team’s Club World Cup squad.
The other is the choice of business over the summer window, with club manager and Txiki Begiristain opting to bring in Mateo Kovacic on free from Chelsea and Matheus Nunes from relegation-threatened Wolverhampton Wanderers as replacement for departed club captain Ilkay Gundogan and the late arrivals of Josko Gvardiol and Jeremy Doku from RB Leipzig and Stade Rennes respectively.
The Premier League champions have often looked like shadows of their old selves with the constant rotations, fitness issues, and a lack of cohesion among the team. Another bugging issue of concern behind the scenes is the club’s impending trial for alleged breaches of 115 Financial Fair Play regulations.
Brentford comes into the game heavy on form regarding head-to-head, being the only team to hand the defending Champions League defeats across both encounters last season with a 1-2 and 1-0 scoreline at the Etihad Stadium and Gtech Community Stadium, respectively.
Having missed the presence of the heavy firepower boasted in Ivan Toney for the first half of the season. Toney, who scored 33% of Brentford’s Premier League goals last season, was served with an 8-month football ban and a £50,000 fine for his gambling escapades.
The goals have continued flowing for the London outfit as the duo of Yoane Wissa(deputizing for Toney) and Cameroonian international Bryan Mbeumo stepped up to provide the goals. The former is part of the special contingent of a trio of Premier League players to have scored and assisted 10-plus goals in 2023 (Bukayo Saka and Mohamed Salah).
Defensively is where the Bees have been lacking, conceding 22 goals and accumulating a goal difference of +1 across the campaign (as of the time of writing). The acquisitions of Mark Flekken from Freiburg to replace former first-choice goalie David Raya, who joined Arsenal on loan during the summer, and Nathan Collins from Wolves, in addition to Ben Mee and Ethan Pinnock, should have been enough to shore up the defense. Still, it’s been quite the opposite thus far.
Since the inception of the premier league, these sides have faced off 4 times. With a win rate of 50% for each outfit and no draws recorded so far. Both Brentford’s wins came in the 22/23 season and Manchester City’s in the 21/22 season with a 2-0 home victory and 1-0 at the away end.
The epic match at Brentford Community Stadium in London starts on Saturday, February 3rd, 2024, at 3 PM UK time.
Brentford’s 17,250-capacity stadium will host this fixture between the Premier League strugglers and the defending champions.
Getting tickets for the Brentford vs Manchester City tickets could take a lot of work, given the standard of this game. Hence, you are advised to search ticket reselling sites should they be expected to be sold out on each club’s channels.
Thomas Frank has a lot of tinkering to do on the Brentford end. Aside from long-term absentees Ivan Toney (Ban), who should be back in first-team training from January 16th, 2024, and Rico Henry (Knee injury), possibly ruled out for the rest of the season, the Bees still struggle with injuries and fitness to key squad players inclusive of Bryan Mbeumo who picked up an ankle sprain in their 1-0 loss to Sheffield in December, club record signing Kevin Schade, Kristoffer Ajer, Mathias Jensen, Aaron Hickey, and Joshua DaSilva all continue to be in and out of the medical room.
Yoane Wissa is likely set to lead the line flanked by Neal Maupay, spending his second stint at the club and the now fully fit Keane Lewis-Potter. Highly rated Nigerian teenage winger Michael Olakigbe might just settle for a spot on the bench after making his league debut in the 1-nil loss to Sheffield in early December.
Due to their versatility, Sam Ghoddos and Vitaliy Janelt should come into the lineup in any outfield spot lacking depth, as they have over the last couple of weeks.
Brentford: Flekken; Ghoddos, Mee, Pinnock, Janelt; Baptiste, Norgaard, Onyeka; Maupay, Wissa, Lewis-Potter.
The Cityzen’s top man Erling Haaland will have an opposition to relish in Brentford as they are the only premier league side he has faced without a goal involvement, blanking in the Bees’ 1-2 win at the Etihad and not featuring at all in the return leg (1-0 loss also at the Gtech Community stadium). At the time of writing, he leads the pack for goals scored in the current league season. The Norwegian would be sure to lace his firing boots for the encounter.
Rodrigo Hernandez is also expected to be available, having missed games across the campaign for picking up a straight red and, later on, the usual suspension for 5 yellow cards.
The Spaniard remains a vital cog of Pep’s team, having just won 2 of the 16 games he’s missed thus far and a much-needed boost ahead of their away encounter at London. John Stones should also be expected to put his injury behind him and gain full fitness before the meeting.
Manchester City: Ederson; Josko Gvardiol, Ruben Dias, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Rodrigo, Julian Alvarez, De Bruyne, Jeremy Doku, Erling Haaland, Phil Foden.
This game will be a fitting test for Manchester City as the season begins to take shape, and the run-in to defend their title continues with the prying eyes of Liverpool and Arsenal. Brentford will also have their sights locked in as they continue the waters of the mid-table premier league and even kick-start a charge to challenge for a European spot.
Brentford 0-3 Manchester City