20 Days of the Premier League continues with Brentford, newcomers to the top flight in modern English football. Brentford’s recent climb through the divisions has been extremely impressive, rising from League Two to the Premier League in just 12 years.
Last year’s third-place finishers in the Championship are a great story, but they are yet to face their toughest test yet: avoiding relegation.
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Brentford won the Championship playoff, a bracket-style battle between the teams that finish 3-6 in the league to determine who will join the first and second-place finishers in being promoted.
The Bees gave their fans a bit of a shock when they began to drop points leading up to the end of the season, but they closed out the regular season by taking 13 points from a possible 15 and carried the momentum through the playoff.
Brentford scored more goals than any team in the Championship last year, which bodes well for their chances at survival in the Premier League. The third team to earn the trip up the division usually falls into a cycle where they continually fluctuate between Championship promotion and Premier League relegation, though with a proven attack, they may be able to avoid the drop in their first time asking.
Ivan Toney led the club with a whopping 32 goals and also tied with Bryan Mbuembo for a team-high 10 assists in 48 games last year. The 25-year-old Englishman has been in exceptional form for two seasons and was linked with transfers to different higher-profile clubs this summer, though no bid has officially gone through.
Brentford rebuffed their squad with three transfers, the most expensive of which was Kristoffer Ajer, a Norwegian center-back that was brought over from Celtic in the Scottish Premiership. They are also getting a number of players back from loan and only lost a few players on free transfers, succeeding in keeping their core intact.
Ajer The Record Breaking Bee
In our second transfer feature Beesotted caught up with football agent @WillGlavin from @celticnowpod who gives us the lowdown on #BrentfordFC new Norwegian international defender Kristoffer Ajer from @celtic
— Beesotted Brentford (@Beesotted) July 27, 2021
The club has still not replaced Said Behrahma, whom they sold to West Ham for $25.41 million on January 29, and they could benefit tremendously from adding another proven commodity to their team.
What to Expect
Given that Brentford is a first-timer in the Prem, many people have not seen them in action and do not know what to expect— although they like to play a five-at-the-back system with three central defenders and a pair of wing-backs, they attack ferociously and like to bomb up the pitch, often pressing to recover the ball after losing possession.
It will be dangerous for them to uphold their current style of play against the best crop of talent in any league around the world, but it will pay dividends if it is successful.
Similar concerns surrounded Leeds United heading into fall of 2020, the club’s first stint back in the Premier League since the ‘03-’04 season, and they ended up finishing ninth; if Brentford can follow the mold of believing in their system and going right at the big clubs rather than backing down out of respect, then they have the talent to finish mid-table.
Will They Survive?
The Bees will be favorites to be sent back down, but they have much more upside than the usual third-place Championship finisher. They will get their season underway on the road against Arsenal, with an easier stretch of matches against Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, Brighton, and Wolves on the horizon.
Brentford has the ability to knick points off of top-half clubs while beating the bottom feeders of last year’s Premier League teams; this could be a rare instance in which all of the Championship teams avoid relegation, though this will hinge largely around the newcomers.
Grant Mitchell is a sportswriter and multimedia contributor for the Sports 2.0 Network dealing with basketball, football, soccer, and other major sports: you can connect with him on Twitter @milemitchell to stay up to date with the latest sports news and to engage personally with him.