Even before a ball was kicked Brentford were regarded as being a welcome addition to the Premier League, and nothing in the opening weeks of the season has changed that view.
Promoted after beating Bournemouth in the play-off final, having lost at the same stage in 2019 to Fulham, Thomas Frank’s side began with a stylish and thoroughly deserved 2-0 win over Arsenal as the Brentford Community Stadium welcomed a full house for the first time since it opened in 2020.
Since then the Bees have picked up away points from a goalless draw at Crystal Palace and a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa, when Ivan Toney, top scorer in the Championship last season, opened his account.
Having outperformed heavyweight rivals in the Championship, the Bees are relishing doing the same in the top-flight. It is still early of course, but their intriguing model based on shrewd recruitment, a front-foot style and the promotion of youngsters from their B team (they closed their academy in 2016) seems to be working nicely.
How they play
Brentford are flexible tactically – they altered between 4-3-3, 3-4-3 and 3-5-2 last season – but their principles remain the same and they will have been inspired by how Leeds performed after promotion last season and even the way Sheffield United initially thrived after going up in 2019.
Frank’s squad includes players who have performed for the club in League One while defender Ethan Pinnock was playing non-league football for Dulwich Hamlet as recently as five years ago. They have adapted to the manager’s quick passing style. Having the right attitude and a hunger to improve is just as important, though.
Watch out for
After scoring 31 goals last season, former Newcastle striker Toney is an obvious threat but look out as well for left-back Rico Henry, the stylish Christian Norgaard and defensive midfielder Vitaly Janelt, a bargain buy at £0.5m from German club Bochum, who is being coveted by bigger clubs.
In the summer they paid a club record £12m to Celtic for Norwegian defender Kristoffer Ajer while in midfield they have added Frank Onyeka, an energetic Nigerian midfielder who has Champions League experience from his time with Midtjylland, the Danish club where Brentford owner Matthew Benham became the majority shareholder and co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen is chairman.
Teenagers Myles Peart-Harris and Daniel Oyegoke have joined from Chelsea and Arsenal respectively. The club’s B team feed the first-team squad, with Marcus Forss and Mads Roerslev among those to have made the transition and the two youngsters hope to tread a similar path.