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Preview: Brentford vs. West Bromwich Albion - predictions, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday night's Championship top-four clash between Brentford and West Bromwich Albion, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

A pivotal weekend in the Championship promotion battle kicks off on Friday night as Brentford host league leaders West Bromwich Albion at Griffin Park.

Fourth-placed Brentford still have an outside chance of challenging for automatic promotion and could gain a valuable three points in that bid at the start of a weekend which also sees second-placed Leeds United take on third-placed Fulham.

Match preview

Brentford boss Thomas Frank on February 8, 2020© Reuters

Gameweek 39 could prove to be the most important of the season in terms of the battle to reach the Premier League, with the Championship's top four all facing each other.

West Brom and Leeds boast a healthy advantage over the chasing pack, but if both of the top two were to lose this weekend then that gap would stand at just four points to Fulham and five points to Brentford.

The Bees threw themselves into the argument courtesy of a late sting in the tail of their first game back after lockdown, beating Fulham 2-0 at Craven Cottage courtesy of two goals after the 85th minute.

Coupled with a 5-0 drubbing of Sheffield Wednesday pre-lockdown, it marks a timely return to form after five games without a win before that, and they could now win three league games on the bounce for the first time since October.

Thomas Frank's side have lost just one of their last 11 Championship home games and are the division's joint-leading scorers in home games this term, alongside Friday's opponents.

West Brom manager Slaven Bilic on June 20, 2020© Reuters

Indeed, goals seem guaranteed in this match with these two teams sitting top of the overall scoring charts for 2019-20, although only Leeds have conceded fewer goals than them too so it will be a fascinating contest between the league's best attacks and among the league's best defences.

Both have kept clean sheets in their last two outings but, while Brentford have won those, West Brom have been held to back-to-back stalemates either side of lockdown.

Saturday's derby draw with Birmingham City was enough to move them top of the table - and stay there courtesy of Leeds' defeat to Cardiff City - but it was still two dropped points at The Hawthorns as they failed to take full advantage of those around them also slipping up.

The Baggies are now winless in four games across all competitions and have not gone five without a victory since suffering relegation from the top flight in 2018, although their away record remains impressive.

Slaven Bilic's side have picked up more points than any other Championship team on their travels, losing just twice and shipping a league-low 14 goals in the process.

Indeed, they have picked up more away points this season than they have at home, so Bilic will be relishing the chance to get back out on the road for the first time since March 7.

Brentford Championship form: DDLDWW

West Brom Championship form: DWWLDD
West Brom form (all competitions): WWLLDD

Team News

Said Benrahma of Brentford and Fulham's Michael Hector in action on June 20, 2020© Reuters

Brentford were without Bryan Mbeumo for the Fulham clash after he tested positive for coronavirus, but the winger is back available for this match and could go straight into the starting lineup.

The Bees welcomed Pontus Jansson back for his first start since January last time out, and suffered no fresh injury setbacks during that London derby.

Sergi Canos and Nikolaos Karelis remain sidelined, but top-scorer Ollie Watkins is available to lead the line, while in-demand Said Benrahma will also be involved.

Emiliano Marcondes will hope that his game-changing cameo off the bench against Fulham is enough to earn him a start, having scored one and created the other to inspire Brentford to victory.

Bilic has promised to make regular changes to his starting XI in a bid to keep his players fresh during the hectic rearranged schedule.

The likes of Grady Diangana, Kyle Edwards and Charlie Austin will all be pushing for starts, then, but the Baggies will once again be without Jonathan Leko while Nathan Ferguson will leave at the end of the month after turning down a new contract.

Brentford possible starting lineup:
Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Pinnock, Henry; Marcondes, Norgaard, Dasilva; Mbeumo, Watkins, Benrahma

West Brom possible starting lineup:
Johnstone; Furlong, Ajayi, Hegazi, Gibbs; Sawyers, Livermore; Edwards, Pereira, Diangana; Austin

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Brentford 2-2 West Brom

This contest pits two potent attacks against two sturdy defences, and it promises to be a fascinating battle. Brentford have scored more late goals than any club in England's top four tiers this season, so expect some more late drama in this one.

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A general shot of the West Bromwich Albion vs. Birmingham game on June 20, 2020
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Championship roundup: West Brom return to the summit

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