The Lions are back on the road this Saturday after two home victories in a week as Neil Harris' Millwall look to claim a first away win of the season, facing Brentford in the Sky Bet Championship at Griffin Park.
The trip to West London comes with The Bees sitting two points and two places above The Lions following their recent appointment of Thomas Frank as Head Coach. Despite regular encouraging displays, Brentford approach the weekend without a win in nine matches across all competitions.
Brentford have been members of the English Football League since 1920, having been founded 31 years prior. The club have been in their current spell in The Championship since 2014 after promotion from League One, managing top-half finishes in each of the last four seasons. The Bees won their solitary Second Division title in 1935, making their last top-flight appearance in 1947. The side’s closest bid for Premier League football came in 2015, losing out on aggregate to Middlesbrough in a Championship Play-Off Semi-Final. Brentford have made the last eight of the FA Cup on four occasions, and have contested the Football League Trophy Final three times – most recently in 2011.
Ones to Watch
Chris Mepham (6) has raised eyebrows for a number of astute performances for Brentford since making his first-team debut in early 2017. The young centre-back has made 14 Championship appearances so far this season and has represented the senior Wales side despite not turning 21 until next week. A ball-playing defender, Mepham is one of a sought-after breed of players comfortable in possession in different areas of the pitch, and has been publicly highly rated by numerous coaches. Tall and powerful as well as an assured presence in the back line, Mepham signed for Brentford as an under-16 player in 2012 after coming through the ranks at Chelsea. The defender earned his first Wales caps at the China Cup earlier this year, featuring with Lions striker Tom Bradshaw for Ryan Giggs’ side.
Henrik Daalsgard (22) has been a consistent player for Brentford of late, and has played every minute of the club’s Championship campaign so far. The 29-year-old has made the right-back berth his own at Griffin Park, having arrived in 2017 from Zulte Waregem, where he lifted the Belgian Cup. Prior to his spell with the Belgian outfit, Daalsgard spent eight years with Aalborg in his homeland of Denmark, and was part of the historic side of 2014 which marched to a Danish League and Cup double. A focused full-back with a wide threat to his game, Daalsgard has made a solid positive impact at Brentford and brings valuable experience to a young, promising squad. The Dane is seen as a prodigy to new boss Frank, a compatriot of his.
Ollie Watkins (11) was one of Brentford’s standout performers as they managed a respectable ninth-place finish last season. The 22-year-old has been tipped to have a long career at the highest level, having continued his impressive form into this term despite a stuttering first three months for the team. Watkins can play as both a central and wide forward, contributing regularly with goals and assists. The exciting forward currently has five goals this season, after 10 in the League last time out. Watkins earned his Championship move after a terrific final season with hometown club Exeter City, in which he earned the EFL Young Player of the Year award. An academy product with The Grecians, Watkins firstly gained senior experience during a prolific loan spell with Weston-Super-Mare in 2014/15.
Neal Maupay (9) is undoubtedly Brentford’s most dangerous threat going forward, and perhaps the hottest property in The Championship currently. The Frenchman is the division’s top scorer with 11 League goals from 13 starts, following 12 strikes last season which came mainly from the bench. Diminutive and nimble on the ball with lethal finishing ability, Maupay averages a goal every 102 minutes in the League and is even being tipped for a call-up to the French national side in the next few months should he maintain his form – he is also eligible for Argentina, but has represented and scored for France’s U21 side. An academy product of Nice, Maupay has played his fair share of Ligue 1 football and joined Saint-Etienne in 2015 before a successful loan spell with Brest prior to his move to West London. The Bees’ number nine can also play deeper behind the striker, but has shown himself to be irreplaceable at the head of Frank’s attack.
In the Dugout
Thomas Frank took the reins as head coach at Griffin Park just last month after two years as assistant to Aston Villa-bound Dean Smith. Despite not enjoying a high-profile playing career, Frank’s coaching skills have been fine-tuned over a period of 23 years, despite only recently turning 45. The Dane’s first role came as a youth coach at his local hometown club, before 13 more years of working with various Danish clubs’ academy setups. Frank moved into national coaching in 2008, and managed several of his country’s youth sides before taking the reins of Brondby’s first team in 2013, guiding the club into the Europa League Qualifiers. His experience led him to England three years later, where he now has his first shot in charge in The Championship.