West Brom v Brentford: Much less at stake as Albion face Bees again

They were locked in the battle for automatic promotion just a few months ago.

Rekeem Harper of West Bromwich Albion is surrounded by Brentford players. (AMA)
Rekeem Harper of West Bromwich Albion is surrounded by Brentford players. (AMA)

Tonight, though, Albion and Brentford meet again – with a place in the fourth round of the League Cup at stake.

It was the Baggies, of course, who eventually pipped Thomas Frank’s side to a place in the Premier League.

That will surely impact tonight’s proceedings – with the Bees’ players no doubt desperate to prove a point.

Rightly or wrongly, though, the reality is both teams have their priorities elsewhere this season.

Albion need to focus on staying in the top flight. Brentford need to prioritise getting there.

And for that reason – as was the case in the previous round – both teams will rest players tonight.

Bilic made 10 changes for the win over Harrogate – with Dara O’Shea the only player to retain a starting spot in both league and cup.

But the boss may see tonight as an ideal opportunity to give a debut to new recruit Conor Gallagher – especially as the loanee can’t feature against parent club Chelsea on Saturday.

For that reason, the boss may opt to line up his charges in a 4-3-3 formation.

That would mean Sam Field and Rekeem Harper lining up alongside Gallagher – whose paperwork hadn’t come through in time for Everton – in the middle of the park.

Against Harrogate, Bilic plumped for a 4-4-2 system. But that decision seemed based on the players he had available with the head coach wanting to rest Jake Livermore and Romaine Sawyers.

Tonight he is likely to want to get more minutes into Field and Harper.

But he may also want to see Gallagher in a system he could utilise in the Premier League.

With Kyle Edwards and Kamil Grosicki likely to be on the wings – that leaves a big call up front.

Hal Robson-Kanu and Charlie Austin started the win over Harrogate – with the Welshman netting a pearler.

Austin was subsequently left out the squad for the trip to Everton – with reports in the national media stating the Baggies are open to offers for the 31-year-old. And it will be interesting to see if the former Southampton striker is involved tonight.

Elsewhere, David Button will start in goal. The keeper impressed against Harrogate, but it will be good for Bilic to get a closer look at him against better opposition.

Cedric Kipre will also see the game as a chance to push for a starting spot against Chelsea – with the Baggies very vulnerable when defending set-pieces at Goodison Park.

Conor Townsend will also get some much-needed minutes in the tank, with the left-back likely to deputise for Kieran Gibbs against Chelsea following his red card.

While Albion will make plenty of changes, Brentford will likely do the same.

In their second-round win over Southampton, they rested first-choice centre-backs Ethan Pinnock and Pontus Jansson. Charlie Goode and Mads Sorensen deputised.

Talented left-back Rico Henry – a player who is believed to interest Albion – was also rested and is likely to be tonight.

But Brentford carried a real attacking threat against the Saints.

Josh Da Silva – who impressed against the Baggies last season – started and scored in their 2-0 win.

Bryan Mbeumo also impressed in that game and is likely to start on the right.

The influential Christian Norgaard is also likely to feature – with the central midfielder often the man that kick-starts Brentford’s attacks.

Predicted XI:

Albion predicted XI

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