Manchester United will hope to halt their unwanted run of form when they take on Brentford at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Wednesday.
Erik ten Hag’s side fell to a 2-0 defeat to Newcastle United at the weekend, which leaves their top four hopes hanging in the balance, having stretched their concerning winless run to three games.
The Red Devils will hope their exceptional home form can propel them to victory over Brentford, but the Bees have proven a different proposition this season.
The West Londoners were pegged back three times in a thrilling 3-3 draw against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, but their hopes of starring in one of Europe’s tournaments next season remain alive.
Ten Hag was right to warn his side of complacency following their Carabao Cup triumph in late February, but whether the team heeded caution is another story entirely.
The Red Devils have maintained their top performance in cup tournaments, but their domestic form has been nothing to write home about.
Since lifting the Carabao Cup, United have picked up just one point from a possible nine, having failed to win or find the back of the net in any of their last three league games (D1, L2).
There was no love lost when United renewed hostilities with Eddie Howe’s side, who were out to prove a point from the first whistle at St James’ Park.
Second-half goals from Joe Willock and Callum Wilson ensured Newcastle earned their slice of revenge, but United barely put up a fight either way.
Ten Hag’s side were dominated for much of the game, which is not something that is often said about the Red Devils since the Dutch tactician got them running on all four cylinders.
Once considered title contenders, United are now barely hanging on to their spot in the top four and could slip out of the Champions League places if Tottenham Hotspur earn a positive result against Everton – although they have played two games fewer than Spurs.
Facing Brentford at the Theatre of Dreams could not have come at a better time for United, having won their last three league games against the Bees on home turf by an aggregate score of 10-1.
United are on the longest current home run without defeat in the league (12 games), having lost just one of their last 22 home games (W14, D7) since losing 2-1 to Brighton on the opening weekend.
The game against Brentford presents a chance to restore normalcy by returning to winning ways, but Ten Hag will need to fix his side’s scoring problem.
United have failed to score in each of their last three league games, but not since April 1989 have they gone four fixtures without making the net ripple in the competition.
Thomas Frank’s high-flying Bees were thwarted at every turn against a relentless Brighton at the Amex Stadium. But at least they maintained their impeccable record of never losing a top-flight game after scoring the first goal.
A point was enough to lift them above a disjointed Liverpool side and into seventh place – although they have played a game more than Jurgen Klopp’s men.
However, Brentford have managed just two wins from their last seven top-flight fixtures – a worrying statistic heading into an unfriendly territory in Manchester.
Frank will hope his side can end their unpleasant record at Old Trafford, which will also see them become the first London side since Arsenal in 1991 to win away at both Manchester clubs in a single campaign following their 2-1 triumph over Manchester City in November last year.
Having won 4-0 at home in August, Brentford are also looking to complete their second-ever league double over United after achieving the feat in the 1936-37 top-flight campaign.
Brentford will also be buoyed by their impressive form, having lost just one of their last 16 league games (W7, D8).
Only Arsenal, Man City and Newcastle have lost fewer games than the Bees this season (5), although Frank’s side have drawn more league games than anyone else this term (13).
Premier League Form
Manchester United – WWLDL
Brentford – WLWDD
Ten Hag will be without Alejandro Garnacho, Tom Heaton and Christian Eriksen, who are all sidelined with ankle problems alongside Donny van de Beek (knee).
Casemiro will also sit out the clash while serving the penultimate game of his four-match domestic ban, leaving Scott McTominay, Fred and Marcel Sabitzer to slug it out for a starting berth.
Anthony Martial also returned from injury, making his comeback as a second-half substitute in the Newcastle defeat, but could be plunged into the starting line-up over the ineffective Wout Weghorst.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka also missed Sunday’s encounter due to illness but should recover in time to make the squad to face Brentford.
Frank will welcome Shandon Baptiste back to the fold, having served his one-game ban, although still sweating over the fitness of Vitaly Janelt, who is struggling to shake off a knee problem.
Kristoffer Ajer (calf) and Keane Lewis-Potter (knee) also remain sidelined and are unlikely to play again until the final few weeks of the season.
Manchester United potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): David De Gea; Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez, Tyrell Malacia; Marcel Sabitzer, Fred; Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford; Anthony Martial.
Brentford potential starting line-up:
(3-4-3): David Raya; Ben Mee, Ethan Pinnock, Pontus Jansson; Aaron Hickey, Mathias Jensen, Christian Norgaard, Rico Henry; Bryan Mbeumo, Ivan Toney, Yoane Wissa.
How to Watch?
Man United vs Brentford, alongside all other fixtures in England’s top flight, is available to watch online via live Premier League streams.
We Say: Manchester United 1-1 Brentford
Brentford tend to thrive on the big occasions, so they will fancy their chances against a toothless United side that have struggled to pick up the pace.
United have not exactly been an outpouring fountain of goals, but they should have enough to register against the Bees.
However, having what it takes to win is another question entirely, especially with Brentford desperately hanging on to their European dream.
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