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Premier League success not a flash in the pan for Brentford

Brentford are certainly making the most of their first ever season in the Premier League. While fellow promoted sides Norwich City and Watford are struggling for points near the foot of the table, Thomas Frank’s side are flying high in seventh place, just four points off Liverpool in top spot.

The Bees have been a breath of fresh air in the English top flight this season. Of course, much was already known about the slightly different way Brentford do things before their promotion to the Premier League – the club has leaned heavily into data analysis – but their instant success has caught many by surprise.

Victories over Arsenal, Wolves and West Ham, as well as draws against Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Liverpool, have highlighted the quality of the team Frank has built. Brentford look at home in the Premier League with some even pondering whether the Bees might even challenge for European qualification. A top half finish certainly looks a possibility.

How far can Brentford really go? Their next two Premier League fixtures against Chelsea and Leicester City will tell us a lot about their staying power and their ability to compete against English football’s best teams but nothing in the opening two months of the seasons suggests they can continue to achieve good results.

Ivan Toney has been Brentford’s most eye-catching performer this season. The 25-year-old has carried his incredible goalscoring form in the Championship into the Premier League with two goals and two assists in seven appearances. Toney is proving himself as the complete centre forward – he can finish chances and create them.

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Bryan Mbuemo has also impressed as Toney’s strike partner. Frank’s team are already renowned for their fluidity and interchangeability and Mbuemo, who doesn’t really have a set position, embodies this. Brentford are such a difficult Premier League team to play against because their players contribute in so many different ways.

In midfield, Christian Norgaard is making a name for himself with Yoane Wissa scoring big goals against Liverpool and West Ham. At the back, Kristoffer Ajer has made an immediate impact since making the summer move from Celtic with the Norwegian drawing comparisons to Virgil van Dijk – Ajer’s physical presence masks how good he is with the ball at his feet.

“Outside of London, outside of west London, maybe no one in the world knows who we are. So we need to show them with good performances on the pitch,” Frank recently explained before addressing how it feels to be the second team of so many neutrals who have been drawn to the Bees for their dynamic style of football and different approach.

“I guess that’s okay. It’s nice and I understand why. I think we’re a good story. We are approachable and positive, so I understand it. But I’m also very aware everything changes very quickly in football. So we must keep on working. I’m always honest, so I believe in the team and the players massively.”

The Premier League has seen highly competitive promoted teams, like Brentford, before. Only last season, Leeds United were the ones making a good impression on the top half of the Premier League having just made the jump from the Championship. The season before, Sheffield United finished ninth as the Premier League’s surprise package.

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Of course, Sheffield United fell away as quickly as they rose but Brentford’s success feels sustainable. The club is built on sound principles in coaching and recruitment. Frank used the foundation that was left behind by Dean Smith and took Brentford forward and whoever succeeds Frank could do similar. The Bees might not qualify for Europe or finish in the top half this season, but don’t count on this being their only chance to do so.

 


 

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