26 min: Brentford are defending a free-kick from wide on the right with Ethan Pinnock off the pitch, waiting to come back on after receiving treatment for an injury. For reasons best known to himself, referee Michael Salisbury doesn’t allow him back on before the set-piece is taken. Pascal Gross sends the ball straight into the gloves of Raya.
24 min: Now Brentford go close, with Bryan Mbeumo demonstrating wonderful technique to connect with a cross and hit the bar with a stunning volley from the right side of the Brighton penalty area. So close.
21 min: From the corner, the ball pinballs around the Brentford penalty area before Joel Veltman brings a decent save out of Raya with an effort from close range.
19 min: After a shaky start, Brighton continue to take the game to Brentford but without creating much in the way of goalscoring opportunities. Attempting a pull-back from the byline, Estupinan finds a Brentford shirt but moments later David Raya saves well from Caicedo, tipping his shot from the edge of the area over the bar.
16 min: From the edge of the six-yard box, Danny Welbeck mistimes his jump and fails to trouble David Raya unduly with a header he should have buried in the back of the net despite being under pressure from Rico Henry. Poor from Welbeck, who has not scored yet this season.
15 min: Ethan Pinnock gets down on his haunches to block a shot from Danny Welbeck, who had been played to the edge of the Brentford six-yard box by a clever stabbed pass from Leandro Trossard.
12 min: Brighton are enjoying spells of sustained possession on the ball for the first time in the game but a Lewis Dunk crossfield ball to the right flank is intercepted. Ivan Toney draws a foul from Adam Webster not too far from the halfway line. Webster shakes his head, weary at the injustice of it all.
10 min: Pervis Estupinan squares the ball for Moises Caicedo on the edge of the Brentford penalty area. The ball is worked wide to Solly March, whose cross from the right is plucked from the air by David Raya at his far post.
8 min: Brighton win a goal-kick and dawdle over it, prompting jeers from the home fans. Time-wasting within 10 minutes? It could be a long night.
7 min: Brentford, playing a 4-3-3 compared to their usual 3-5-2 under Thomas Frank are in the ascendency at the moment, pressing Brighton high up the pitch and preventing the visitors’ attempts to play through them.
5 min: Toney finds space on the right again and sends a cross into the Brighton penalty area. Frank Onyeka heads over the bar, but not by much.
3 min: Brentford win a free-kick about 50 yards from the Brighton goal. Bryan Mbeumo sends the ball floating towards Ivan Toney, who had made a run to the right side of the Brighton penalty area. His attempt to cross on the volley is blocked.
2 min: With many of them waving Zambia flags, Brighton’s travelling fans launch into a chant celebnrating Enock Mwepu and their hosts join in.
1 min: Brentford get the ball rolling in west London. Game on …
Not long now: Both sets of players march out and line up either side of refereee Michael Salisbury and his team of match officials. Unbeaten in nine games under the Friday night lights, Brentford wear red and white striped shirts, black shorts and black socks. I’m going with “turqouise” to describe Brighton’s kit for tonight.
The Bloom v Benham derby: As is customary when Brighton travel to Brentford, the visitors’ owner Tony Bloom is in the away end with the travelling fans as his animosity towards Brentford owner Matthew Benham, his former apprentice, precludes him from taking a corporate seat. Nobody apart from the duo concerned seems quite sure why the pair fell out but their mutual antipathy is, by many accounts, very real.
Enock Mwepu: Brighton have Zambia flags up in their dressing-room in tribute to their former team-mate and arrive out for their warm-up wearing T-shirts in homage. “CHAMBISHI TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE,” they say on the front, alongside a picture of Mwepu. “YOUR DREAM CAME TRUE. WE ARE ALL WITH YOU.”
Those teams: Robbed of last year’s Puskas Award for his tap-in against Liverpool, Ethan Pinnock keeps his place in Brentford’s line-up but Thomas Frank recalls midfielders Vitaly Janelt and Frank Onyeka, along with winger Yoane Wissa. Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi picks the same starting XI for his third match out of three in charge of the club.
Brentford: Raya, Ajer, Mee, Pinnock, Henry, Onyeka, Janelt, Jensen, Mbeumo, Toney, Wissa.
Subs: Canos, Dasilva, Jorgensen, Ghoddos, Lewis-Potter, Damsgaard, Baptiste, Roerslev, Cox.
Brighton: Sanchez, Veltman, Dunk, Webster, March, Mac Allister, Caicedo, Estupinan, Gross, Trossard, Welbeck.
Subs: Lamptey, Lallana, Sarmiento, Enciso, Undav, Mitoma, Steele, Gilmour, Turns.
Roberto De Zerbi: “We are able to defend,” said Brighton’s manager upon being asked how he planned to deal with the threat of in-form Brentford striker Ivan Toney. “We have Dunk, Webster and Veltman, they are big and great players. We have to defend as an 11 and attack as an 11, I don’t want to put more responsibility on Dunk or Webster, because the first defender has to be Welbeck and the first attacker has to be Dunk.
“Brentford is a good team. We will have to suffer, they have a good style of play, second balls and long balls, but we can play our football and they will have to suffer as well; our skills and ability, our players, our style of play and I think the last result is not fair and we have the possibility to win the next game.
“They are a good team, they can play with five defenders or four. The last game against Newcastle, they played with five defenders, but they can play with three attackers. But we are ready to play against every style.”
Thomas Frank on his opposite number, Roberto De Zerbi: “We’ve looked at his first two games and then we look more at the manager,” said Brentford’s manager ahead. “I think he did a great job at Sassuolo, he also did fine at Shakhtar, but Sassuolo is where he did most of his good work.
“He inherits a good squad, a well-drilled team, and now he needs to put his own ideas in. I think it’s an interesting signing for the Premier League. We know what Brighton will come with. They’ll try to dominate possession, try to be flexible – we need to be able to close that down.”
Tonight’s match officials
Referee: Michael Salisbury
Assistants: Neil Davies and Timothy Wood
Fourth official: Graham Scott
VAR: Mike Dean
Assistant VAR: Nick Hopton
With Pontus Jansson still confined to barracks with a hamstring injury, Ethan Pinnock will be hoping to keep his place in Brentford’s defence despite last weekend’s horror show but Thomas Frank could opt to play Mathias Jorgensen instead. Keane Lewis-Potter has missed Brentford’s past three games with a foot injury but has been declared fit and available for selection tonight.
Midfielder Christian Norgaard remains out with an achilles injury but is back in light training and Frank is confident the Dane will be back in action ahead of the World Cup. Reserve goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha has also been ruled out for a few weeks after injuring an ankle in training while saving a penalty from Kristoffer Ajer.
Brighton are without midfielder Enock Mwepu following the devastating news that the 24-year-old Zambia international striker has been forced into early retirement following the diagnosis of a hereditary heart condition – we send our best wishes to him. They must also make do without central midfielder Jakub Moder, who remains sidelined with a long-term knee injury he suffered in a match against Norwich last season. The Polish international will not be back until next year.
Still searching for his first win as Brighton manager following two commendable performances, Roberto De Zerbi takes his side to west London for a ding-dong with a Brentford team that has taken just one point from the last nine available.
Thomas Frank’s side were in generous mood when they gifted Newcastle at least three goals at St James’ Park last weekend and while there was plenty of blame to go around, an understandably ring-rusty Ethan Pinnock had a nightmare afternoon at the office on his return from injury for his first start of the season.
Brighton lost by the only goal of the game against Spurs at the Amex Stadium and while far from awful, once again paid the price for profligacy in front of goal. A win tonight would catapult Brighton into the top four overnight, while Brentford will move up four places to eighth if they take all three points.
Kick-off at the Brentford Community Stadium is at 8pm but stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.