Preview: Brentford vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers

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Sports Mole previews Friday’s FA Cup clash between Brentford and Wolverhampton Wanderers, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

One of four all-Premier League ties in the FA Cup third round takes centre stage at the Gtech Community Stadium on Friday when Brentford play host to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The Bees will be seeking revenge after they suffered a humbling 4-1 home defeat to Wolves in the top flight just over a week ago.

Match preview
© Reuters

Thomas Frank is experiencing arguably his toughest period as Brentford boss since taking charge of the club at the backend of 2018, when he won just one of his opening 10 games, as his Bees side have endured a miserable run of form in recent weeks, losing seven of their last eight Premier League fixtures.

The Bees suffered their latest setback at the hands of Crystal Palace last weekend, despite taking the lead after just 85 seconds through Keane Lewis-Potter. Goals from Eagles duo Michael Olise (2) and Eberechi Eze eventually condemned Frank’s men to their fifth straight league defeat and 10th in total this season – conceding at least two or more goals on seven of those occasions.

Brentford, who have accumulated just 19 points from as many league games, have slipped to 16th in the table and they are beginning to look over the shoulders at a possible relegation dogfight, as they are only placed four points above Luton Town in 18th spot.

Frank’s early New Year’s resolution is to galvanise his troops and stop the rot as soon as possible, but success in the FA Cup against Wolves could prove challenging as Brentford have only progressed from one of their last 16 ties in the competition against top-flight opposition.

Brentford lost 1-0 at home to West Ham in the FA Cup third round last season, and they enter Friday’s fixture having only won one of their last nine meetings with Wolves in all competitions, failing to win any of their previous five on home soil during this run.

© Reuters

Wolves ended 2023 in impressive fashion as they won their final three Premier League games of the year by an aggregate score of 9-2, including last weekend’s comfortable 3-0 home victory over Everton.

Captain Max Kilman dedicated his first goal since November 2021 to absent teammate Mario Lemina, who is mourning the loss of his father, before Matheus Cunha and Craig Dawson got their names on the scoresheet in the second half to help the West Midlands club register their eighth league win of the campaign.

Gary O’Neil’s much-improved side can start to look up towards the right end of the Premier League table, as they currently sit in 11th place and 13 points clear of the relegation zone, while they are only four points behind seventh-placed Brighton & Hove Albion, whom they face next in the top flight later this month.

While Wolves have not lost any of their last eight games at Molineux, they have only celebrated success twice in their last nine on the road in all competitions, although one of those was the aforementioned triumph at Brentford in their most recent away game.

Wolves lost 1-0 at home to Liverpool in a FA Cup third-round replay last season, and defeat against Brentford this term would see them eliminated from the same stage in consecutive campaigns for the first time in half a century.

Brentford form (all competitions):

Wolverhampton Wanderers form (all competitions):

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Team News
© Reuters

Brentford’s decline in form has coincided with the absence of several players due to injury including Bryan Mbuemo (ankle), Rico Henry (knee), Aaron Hickey (thigh), Kevin Schade (adductor), Kristoffer Ajer and Shandon Baptiste (both foot), while in-demand striker Ivan Toney remains suspended but is free to return to action later this month.

In addition, Ben Mee will serve the third and final game of his three-match ban, but on a positive note, Frank has confirmed that Josh Dasilva will return to the matchday squad after recovering from a long-term hamstring injury that has kept him out since August.

Neal Maupay will battle with Lewis-Potter and Yoane Wissa for a start in attack, while goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha and midfielder duo Frank Onyeka and Mikkel Damsgaard will all be hoping to force their way into the first XI.

As for Wolves, top scorer Hwang Hee-chan – who scored twice against Brentford last week – is away on international duty with South Korea at the Asian Cup, while Rayan Ait-Nouri and Boubacar Traore have linked up with Algeria and Mali respectively for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Lemina is currently in France with his family following the passing of his father and remains absent, while Jonny is also unavailable for selection due to disciplinary reasons.

O’Neil has been boosted by the return of star winger Pedro Neto in recent weeks and the Portuguese is expected to get some minutes under his belt on Friday, either from the start or as a substitute, while the likes of Daniel Bentley, Hugo Bueno, Matt Doherty, Jean-Ricner Bellegarde and Sasa Kalajdzic will all be pushing to start.

Brentford possible starting lineup:
Strakosha; Jorgensen, Pinnock, Collins; Roerslev, Onyeka, Norgaard, Jensen, Ghoddos; Lewis-Potter, Wissa

Wolverhampton Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Bentley; S. Bueno, Kilman, Toti; Doherty, Bellegarde, Gomes, H. Bueno; Sarabia, Cunha; Kalajdzic

We say: Brentford 1-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Brentford must cut out the defensive errors that have proven costly in recent weeks if they wish to claim a positive result against an in-form Wolves side, who will hope to deliver once again in the final third despite the absence of key man Hwang.

A tighter affair could in store if both sides opt to make several changes, but the momentum is with a buoyant Wolves outfit nevertheless, and they should have enough strength in depth to outscore the Bees en route to booking their place in the fourth round.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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