The reigning champions have opened up a nine-point gap over second-placed Liverpool, who have a game in hand. However, Manchester City look set on their way to lifting another title, having not lost in their last ten games in all competitions. They were held to a 1-1 draw by Southampton in their previous league outing, but Pep Guardiola’s side bounced back to winning ways in style, thrashing Fulham 4-1 in the FA Cup.
Jack Grealish, who has had an indifferent start to life as a Manchester City player, could be benched by Guardiola. It should lead to Phil Foden being deployed in the false-nine role against Brentford with Raheem Sterling and the in-form Riyad Mahrez flanking the young Englishman. Thomas Frank will set his team up in their usual 3-5-2 formation. David Raya, who returned from injury against Everton, should get the nod in goal despite shipping in four goals in the FA Cup clash. Ethan Pinnock should return to the three-man defensive line, replacing Mads Bech Sorensen, meaning Pontus Jansson and Kristoffer Ajer should hold on to their spots in the starting XI.
After starting as a forward in the cup tie, Sergi Canos should move to his customary right wing-back slot. On the opposite flank, Rico Henry is expected to get the nod, with the pair being the primary source of width in attack for the Bees. However, coming up against the dangerous duo of Walker and Cancelo, their attacking movements may end up getting restricted.
Christian Norgaard will be entrusted with the responsibility of thwarting Manchester City’s midfielders from settling into their rhythm. He will have support from Frank Onyeka and Shandon Baptiste, who will also look to push forward when Brentford are in possession. Ivan Toney is a certain starter in attack and could be partnered by the returning Mbeumo at the Etihad. Back from the Africa Cup of Nations with a bang, Riyad Mahrez may have endured continental disappointment with Algeria, but the former Leicester City man was on top form to help Pep Guardiola’s men comfortably see off Fulham in the FA Cup.
Mahrez struck twice after the break following Ilkay Gundogan and John Stones’s efforts in the first half, with Man City forced to come from behind on their own turf after Liverpool target Fabio Carvalho broke the deadlock within four minutes. A trip to Peterborough United awaits Man City in the fifth round as they seek to keep their hopes of a historic treble alive, although a 1-1 draw at Southampton before the international break has made the title race somewhat more interesting.
Guardiola’s side still hold a comfortable nine-point lead at the summit over Liverpool, but the Reds do have a game in hand over the reigning champions, so a couple of dissatisfactory results for Man City could blow the race for glory wide open in the coming weeks. City will certainly not expect to slip up at the fortress that is the Etihad, though, with the 4-1 win over Fulham representing their ninth home victory on the bounce across all competitions – a run that includes six consecutive Premier League triumphs on their own territory.
In stark contrast, a streak of red has since begun to overshadow Brentford’s strong start to their first-ever Premier League season, and their fortunes did not improve in the FA Cup against a Frank Lampard-marshalled Everton side. Yerry Mina, Mason Holgate, Richarlison and Andros Townsend were all on target for the Toffees as Brentford exited in the fourth round with a whimper, and attention now turns to trying to end a worrying losing run in the Premier League before the threat of a relegation dogfight presents itself.
The 4-1 defeat to Everton marked a fifth defeat in a row in all competitions for Brentford, who have also lost each of their last four in the Premier League, with Thomas Frank’s side now occupying 14th position in the table – still eight points clear of the dotted line, though. Performances on the road have been extremely difficult to come by for Brentford over the past couple of months, with the Bees now winless in seven away from home in the top flight – losing five of them while conceding a whopping 19 goals in that miserable pattern.
Man City could only claim a 1-0 win when they paid a visit to the Brentford Community Stadium back in December, but the visiting crowd may very well harbour fears of their side getting carved open at will by the merciless leaders in midweek. City have little in the way of injury concerns to worry about for the visit of Brentford, with Cole Palmer – who would not have started anyway – and Gabriel Jesus the only two absentees this week.
Jesus is yet to shake off niggles from international duty and will not make the cut, while his compatriot Ederson prepares to displace Zack Steffen in between the sticks. Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte should also return to form a familiar pairing in front of the Brazilian, with Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva also set to reprise their roles in the XI. Brentford duo Bryan Mbeumo and Yoane Wissa both missed the defeat to Everton after testing positive for COVID-19, but the duo may recover in time to face the champions.
That is more than can be said for Mathias Jorgensen, Tarique Fosu and Julian Jeanvier, while new signing Christian Eriksen is highly unlikely to be given the green light to play just yet. Frank will certainly consider reintroducing Frank Onyeka and Shandon Baptiste to the XI after a miserable afternoon in the cup, while the return of David Raya in goal has been welcomed with open arms. Ethan Pinnock also ought to be re-introduced after his international stint with Jamaica.
Brentford are going through a bit of a rough patch, having lost each of their five games in all competitions with an aggregate scoreline of 4-16. The Bees were handed a 4-1 thrashing by Everton in their most recent outing in the FA Cup, while their last league fixture ended in a 2-1 loss to Wolves. Having slipped down to 14th in the table, Thomas Frank’s men need to arrest their downslide or risk getting dragged in the relegation muddle.
Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus is a doubt for the game due to an injury, while youngster Cole Palmer has been ruled out altogether. Pep Guardiola will not tinker with his tried and tested 4-3-3 formation when Brentford come visiting.
Ederson Moraes is certain to feature between the sticks for the Premier League champions, while Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte are pretty much nailed on to start as the centre-backs. There is no looking past Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo in the full-back slots, with their forward forays likely to play a key role for the hosts while allowing them to keep the Brentford wing-backs pinned back.
Rodri will be tasked with doing the clean-up job in the middle of the park, while the Spanish international will also look to spray forward passes to initiate attacks. Kevin De Bruyne will provide the creative essence for the Cityzens, while Bernardo Silva will make life difficult for the visitors with his energy and industry.
NAME: Manchester City – Brentford
DATE: 9 Feb 2022
TIME: 19:45 UTC
VENUE: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England