West Brom are set to face Brentford in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday evening, in a highly-anticipated game which many pundits predict could go either way.
Brentford were a dominant force towards the end of the Championship campaign last season, winning eight games in a row and swiftly closing the gap on Albion, who ultimately stumbled into an automatic promotion place with a 2-2 draw to QPR on the final day, keeping the Bees out of the top two.
The Baggies have had an awful start to the Premier League season, losing comprehensively to Leicester and Everton, conceding eight goals in total; meanwhile Brentford have had a decent run of form as of late, despite a slip-up on the opening day which saw them lose 1-0 to Birmingham.
Since then, though, the Bees have knocked Southampton out of the cup with a 2-0 win before beating Huddersfield Town 3-0. They look to have found their feet now, and remain strong in the attacking third despite the departure of Ollie Watkins.
It will be a tough test for the Baggies but Bilic will still be hoping for a victory against a side a league lower than his own.
Team News and Predicted XI:
New signing Branislav Ivanovic is still unlikely to play against Brentford on Tuesday, nor Chelsea at the weekend, as he looks to improve his match fitness.
However, Conor Gallagher could be available and ready for selection against the Bees, as he’s ineligible to face his former club at the weekend, so it would be an ideal opportunity to start him.
Kieran Gibbs received a red card against Everton last weekend and although this doesn’t affect the Carabao Cup, the left-back is likely to have fallen out of favour with Bilic as a result, so the chances of him being selected tonight are very thin.
Ahmed Hegazi missed out on the Everton game through a hamstring injury but Bilic has said that he should be available for Tuesday’s cup tie.
In goal for the Baggies could be David Button, who kept a clean sheet against Harrogate in the last round of the cup, so it’s only fair that he retains his place.
A back four of Conor Townsend, Ahmed Hegazi, Cedric Kipre and Lee Peltier would be strong enough to thwart most of Brentford’s attacking plays, given the experience of Hegazi and Peltier will be mixed with energetic youth in Townsend and Kipre.
A flat midfield four of Kyle Edwards, Conor Gallagher, Sam Field and Kamil Grosicki would make sense; Gallagher could be a box-to-box midfielder while Field sits deeper; and Grosicki and Edwards may be free to push forward on the wings to put the ball in for the two strikers up top.
Speaking of the strikers, Hal Robson-Kanu and Callum Robinson will hopefully be selected for this game, with the latter replacing Charlie Austin, who has been pitiful in recent weeks.
Albion’s Predicted XI: (4-4-2)
Only midfielder Mathias Jensen, who is sidelined until October with a leg injury, will be unavailable for selection to face the Baggies.
We expect Brentford manager Thomas Frank to field a strong side to face West Brom, mixed with some of the standout performers from their 2-0 victory over Southampton in the third round.
Luke Daniels will likely be chosen as goalkeeper behind a back four of Rico Henry, Ethan Pinnock, Pontus Jansson and Henrik Dalsgaard, which is about as strong as you can get defensively for the Bees.
A midfield trio of Shandon Baptiste, Christian Norgaard and Joshua Da Silva could cause problems for the Albion if they aren’t closely monitored.
And on the offensive, Frank will be relying on Bryan Mbuemo, Tarique Fosu-Henry and Marcus Forss to get the goals on Tuesday evening. We all know how deadly these three are when given the opportunity to strike, so Albion’s back four need to be constantly alert.
Brentford’s Predicted XI: (4-3-3)
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