Brentford v Aston Villa

Dean Smith was in the home dug-out on Boxing Day 2017, when Brentford beat Steve Bruce’s Villa at Griffin Park for a second successive season
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Aston Villa boss Dean Smith faces Brentford for the first time since leaving Griffin Park in October.

The Bees, who initially struggled after Smith’s departure, are on the upturn under Thomas Frank, having lost for the first time in 11 league and cup games at Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

They are 11 points clear of trouble in 18th, seven behind Smith’s Villa, who are 10th after eight draws in 14 games.

Villa are again without loan midfielder Tom Carroll and defender James Chester.

Carroll is expected to miss a second game following the slight strain he suffered on his debut in the goalless draw at Reading.

Wales international Chester, who was also absent from Friday’s 3-3 thriller with Sheffield United, misses a third straight match in a bid to reduce swelling on his knee.

Match facts

  • Since Villa dropped down to the Championship in 2016, Brentford are unbeaten in five league meetings with them. Dean Smith was in charge of the Bees for those five games.
  • Prior to their two defeats in the last two seasons, Villa had not visited Griffin Park in the league since February 1947.
  • Brentford lost four of Thomas Frank’s first five home matches in all competitions. But they have now won five of his subsequent six games at Griffin Park, including each of the last four.
  • Villa have lost 12 of their last 14 league visits to the capital – but both were in West London, against QPR at Loftus Road, under Steve Bruce.
  • Said Benrahma has been involved in 10 goals in nine Championship starts at Griffin Park for Brentford this season (three goals, seven assists).
  • Dean Smith has won just one of his seven league meetings with Brentford, a 3-2 win as boss of Walsall in April 2011.