Brentford vs Chelsea: Top tips for Saturday's all-west London affair
Chelsea make their first ever visit to Brentford’s Community Stadium for Saturday’s evening kick-off, with the two sides set to battle it out for West London bragging rights.
Separated by just four points before an inaugural clash at the home side’s new gaff, it’s fair to say both sides will be very happy with the starts they’ve made to the season so far.
At the time of writing; and before Liverpool, both Manchester clubs and Brighton have had a chance to play, Chelsea sit atop the Premier League having picked up 16 points from their seven games so far.
A 3-1 home victory over Southampton before the international break was the tonic the Blues needed after suffering back-to-back 1-0 defeats to Manchester City and Juventus and they’ll be hopeful of getting their pursuit of Premier League glory underway as quickly as possible here.
Brentford, on the other hand, having been promoted to the Premier League for the first time ever (and to the top division for the first time in 74 years), will be understandably ecstatic about the start they’ve made.
Akin to Leeds United last season, and Sheffield United the season before, they’ve taken to the top flight like a bee to a hive and currently find themselves just four points off their opponents, in 7th place.
Brentford vs Chelsea Tips:
With victories over Arsenal, Wolves and West Ham already - plus a thrilling draw with Liverpool - the Bees have proven they’re no pushovers already and they’re clearly not afraid to go toe-to-toe with the proverbial ‘big boys’.
They’re unbeaten in their trio of London derbies already this season, and will certainly believe they have what it takes to make it four against a Chelsea side that’s dealing with several injuries.
While Christian Pulisic is the only guaranteed absentee; Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger, Reece James, N’Golo Kante, and Romelu Lukaku remain doubtful for the game.
Where the hosts are concerned; Vitaly Janelt and Shandon Baptiste miss out, while Kristoffer Ajer is a doubt.
Those midfield absences should open the door for Mathias Jensen and Frank Onyeka to make their mark; with the latter notorious for a foul or two.
Speaking of fouls, I like this line on Brentford to commit at least 11 in this game. The Bees are averaging 13.1 per game (per FBRef), and have hit this mark in six of their seven Premier League matches so far.
Sides facing Chelsea, on the other hand, have committed an average of 13.4 offences per match - seeing this play land in six of their seven too.
I mentioned him briefly above and the Nigerian hasn’t disappointed where fouls are concerned so far this term. In four Premier League starts, he’s committed 12 fouls (3.67 per 90) and somehow only picked up a single booking.
He’s also committed 6 fouls in 115 minutes of League Cup action (against League Two opposition) and recently earned a first booking for his country in just his second start.
I’m not sure Saul really has the trust of Thomas Tuchel yet but if he can’t get a start after an international break I’m not sure he ever will.
The Spaniard, who hasn’t played a single minute of football in almost a month, committed 3 fouls within 45 minutes of his first Chelsea start before being hooked at half-time and hasn’t been seen in the league since.
Should Saul not start this clash, we'll swap him out for Ivan Toney to be booked.
We’re yet to really see the tenacious Toney that saw him pick up three bookings in his final seven Championship games of last season but if a defence can frustrate him enough to draw it out, it’s Chelsea’s. The striker is still committing an appealing 2.29 fouls per 90 in the Premier League, and if he doesn’t get his way early on we could see the ugly side of him.
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