The international break had come at a horrible time for Brentford following a dream start to life in the Premier League. After a 1-0 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion, a run of fixtures versus Wolverhampton Wanderers (A), Liverpool (H), and West Ham United (A) looked a daunting task, but 7 points from a possible 9, including a thrilling 3-3 draw and a 94th-minute winner, has put Bees fans in dreamland.
Chelsea make the near 7-mile trip along the A4 currently sat one point clear at the top of the table and looking an early contender for the Premier League title come May, having produced strong performances against Arsenal, Liverpool, and Tottenham Hotspur thus far.
Back-to-back defeats to Manchester City and Juventus were slight hiccups but a 3-1 win at home to Southampton was enough to capitalise on City, Manchester United and Liverpool dropping points in the last round of fixtures to see them at the top of the tree heading into the break.
Thomas Tuchel’s side boast the joint-second best away record in the league this season, only bettered by Brentford, and have a favourable record against their west London neighbours, winning five of their last six encounters dating back to March 1947. The Bees haven’t won at home against this weekend’s opponents since a 1-0 triumph at Griffin Park in October 1938.
To the dismay of Chelsea fans, Anthony Taylor will take charge of this fixture. It is believed that the referee has made some 'questionable' decisions against them in the past, and after he sent off Reece James in their 1-1 draw with Liverpool earlier in the season, more than 60,000 fans signed a petition to prevent him from officiating their matches in the future. Advantage Brentford?
This will be both teams' fourth London derby of the campaign. Chelsea have won all three against Arsenal, Crystal Palace, and Tottenham, while Brentford defeated Arsenal and West Ham but drew at Selhurst Park.
Thomas Frank has confirmed that Vitaly Janelt and Kristoffer Ajer are back in the squad after missing the 2-1 win over West Ham through injury. Shandon Baptiste misses out due to a dislocated shoulder while Mads Bech Sørensen (knee) and Josh Dasilva (hip) remain long-term absentees.
N’Golo Kanté is back in contention after missing the fixtures against Juventus and Southampton due to COVID-19. Reece James has also returned to training and available having been unavailable for England due to an ankle injury.
Romelu Lukaku left the Belgium national team squad early due to muscle fatigue and is a potential doubt for this game. Antonio Rüdiger (back), Christian Pulišić (ankle), and Hakim Ziyech (illness) are sidelined while Thiago Silva will miss out due to his involvement in Brazil's 4-1 win over Uruguay on Thursday night.
Brentford: Raya; Ajer, Jansson, Pinnock; Canós, Onyeka, Nørgaard, Janelt, Henry; Mbeumo, Toney.
Chelsea: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Chalobah; James, Kanté, Jorginho, Chilwell; Havertz, Lukaku, Werner.
Ones to watch
This is very much a David versus Goliath type fixture: the Champions of Europe versus the newly promoted. Brentford's defence will need to perform at 110% in order to secure a result and Kristoffer Ajer will play a key role in any success.
Since his club-record arrival from Celtic in July, he has quickly become a fan-favourite with his key tackles and interceptions, as well as his galloping runs forwards to contribute in attack. His physicality and speed makes his a difficult hurdle to overcome and it will be an intriguing battle should he face Romelu Lukaku and/or Timo Werner.
While he is a doubt and may only be able to feature off the bench due to muscle fatigue, Chelsea's £97.5 million centre-forward, Lukaku, will undoubtedly cause Thomas Frank's defence a world of problems.
Returning to his boyhood club after an impressive two-season stint with Inter Milan, scoring 64 goals and assisting 16 in 95 appearances, the 28-year-old has had a positive start to life back in England with three goals in six league appearances, bullying defences along the way. Brentford's centre-back trio will need to team up just to contend with him.
Brentford and Chelsea have met four times since their last league encounter in March 1947, all of which have come in the FA Cup.
The Bees almost caused an upset against the then European champions in January 2013 when Uwe Rosler's side took the lead twice at Griffin Park, but Fernando Torres' late equaliser earned the visitors a replay that they won 4-0 at Stamford Bridge.
The west London sides met again in the FA Cup fourth round in February 2017 but the eventual Premier League champions that season comfortably disposed of their guests 4-0. Willian found the back of the net from an early free-kick and was accompanied on the scoresheet by Pedro, Branislav Ivanović, and Michy Batshuayi.
How to watch
This fixture will take place on Saturday 16 August at 17:30 BST and will be broadcasted on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League.
What the managers have said
Thomas Frank is full of praise for Chelsea and believes they have no weakness but reiterates that his team have their eyes firmly set of securing all three points.
"We are here to be an asset to the Premier League and the best way to do that is to be on the front foot, press, and try to attack them. We will try to do that as much as possible on Saturday.
"They are a team with top quality, world-class players in every position. They have one of the best managers in the world in Thomas Tuchel. I don’t think there is a weak spot. We love that challenge and we can’t wait for it.
"We are not going out there to put in a nice performance, do well, and everyone likes Brentford. We are going out there to try to win."
Thomas Tuchel believes it is important to embrace the 'favourites' tag and not buckle under the pressure of it against this weekend's opponents.
"If being the favourite means that we still expect a tough one tomorrow at Brentford, then this is a good one to accept and then at the end we have to take all the pressure off our shoulders and take risks in the game and play with a certain freedom, because with the fear of losing or with the fear of losing your status you can win absolutely nothing.
"That’s why if you play for Chelsea, then you play to win and you cannot be surprised if you are the favourites in a game against Brentford. We have the attitude right and when we have the attitude right then we hopefully get the result right."
Tuchel expects to face a tough challenge at the Brentford Community Stadium.
"They will play with a lot of courage, they will play with a lot of confidence, but we cannot be surprised. We know all this and now it’s on us to adapt and to accept the situation like it is. They will not gift us a single inch on the field and we have to be ready mentally, physically and tactically.
"This is not a match now about knowing the solutions or out-skilling your opponent, this is also a match where we have to match the mentality and the attitude."