Brentford vs Sunderland Preview: Resurgent Bees afforded chance to go five unbeaten against Black Cats

Brentford have gone four games unbeaten and have the chance to make it five against a Sunderland side seemingly in freefall.

Brentford vs Sunderland Preview: Resurgent Bees afforded chance to go five unbeaten against Black Cats
Daniel Bentley celebrates after Brentford took the lead against Millwall. (Photo: Harry Murphy / Getty Images)

Brentford host struggling Sunderland at Griffin Park on Saturday afternoon with the home side afforded a chance to go five games unbeaten.

The Bees spent the early portion of the season mired in the bottom three but have since improved and now sit 18th with a win potentially propelling them to 14th.

The Black Cats meanwhile are happy to get away from the pressures of playing at the Stadium of Light with their winless record at home in 2017 still intact, and will hope they can come away with a win to potentially catalyse their season.

Bees looking to build upon improved form

Brentford have turned their fortunes around somewhat in recent weeks and are now four games unbeaten following a run that had seen them winless in five during early September.

Wins against promoted Millwall and Bolton Wanderers see Dean Smith's side in a healthier position in the Championship table, while draws against tough opposition in Middlesbrough and Derby County proved stern tests of their resolve.

The Bees took the lead twice at the Riverside and were unfortunate not to hold out for all three points, while against Millwall last time out luck was on their side as Lee Gregory missed a second-half penalty which would have levelled the scores at 1-1.

Summer signing Ollie Watkins has adapted well to life in the Championship after his move from League Two outfit Exeter and is the club's top scorer with four league goals.

The hosts will be hoping for a repeat of the last fixture between the two in 2006, when a DJ Campbell brace sent the then-League One side through to the fifth round of the FA Cup during Sunderland's infamous 15-point season in the Premier League.

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Black Cats desperate to halt winless run

Sunderland have struggled massively since relegation to the Championship last season and despite dropping down a division their fortunes have remained the same.

Simon Grayson's side have not won since a 2-1 win over League Two Carlisle United in the Carabao Cup in August and have had nine opportunities to do so since then.

Their only win in the league this season came at Carrow Road on August 13 as they recorded a 3-1 victory over Norwich City, and they have fared better on the road than at home in recent times.

Their last away fixture was an improved performance as they secured a point with a 2-2 draw at Grayson's former employers Preston North End, while last time out they were held at home by QPR in a game that could easily have been lost.

Top scorer Aiden McGeady has been Sunderland's top performer this season and has netted three of his four goals in his last three games, while the returning Duncan Watmore impressed against QPR and is likely to be one of his side's key men on Saturday.

Team news

Brentford will be without left-back Rico Henry for the next six months with a knee injury and are also without winger Alan Judge for Saturday's game, while former Black Cats man John Egan is in line to start against his former club.

Sunderland have centre-back Lamine Koné at their disposal again following his absence last week due to illness, while Tyias Browning and Jonny Williams are likely to be out of contention with hamstring problems.

Predicted line-ups

Brentford (4-2-3-1): Bentley; Clarke, Bjelland, Egan, Dalsgaard; Yennaris, Woods; Watkins, Sawyers, Jozefzoon; Vibe.

Sunderland (4-4-2): Steele; Oviedo, Koné, O'Shea, Jones; McGeady, Cattermole, Ndong, Watmore; Vaughan, Grabban.