A Little Bit of History…
It might have taken a long time to get here, but it will have been worth the wait. Brentford haven’t competed in the top tier of English football since the 1946-47 season, but they have the honour of playing at home in the opening match of the 21/22 season against Arsenal on Friday August 13th. And when the team walks onto the pitch at the Brentford Community Stadium that evening, they’ll become the 50th different club to play in the Premier League since its inception in 1992.
Many people may label them as fairy-tale come true. Little Brentford, a small West London club, finally getting their fleeting moment in the spotlight after 74 years. But don’t be fooled. Reaching the Premier League doesn’t happen by accident. Spoiler alert – Brentford are a good team.
After spending many years bouncing between the lower leagues of English football, they arrived in the EFL Championship in 2014, becoming an unexpected challenger for promotion to the Premier League. They almost achieved it in 19/20 but fell at the last hurdle, suffering a 2-1 defeat at the hands of West London rivals Fulham in the play-off final at Wembley.
The Season Ahead…
Manager Thomas Frank (below) has crafted a talented squad of international players at Brentford, where attack is the best form of defence. They scored 79 goals last season, the highest in the EFL Championship, and fans will be hoping that they carry the same positive game plan into the Premier League. Midfielder Vitaly Janelt is a rock in the centre of the midfield, and goalkeeper David Raya is calm and reliable between the posts. Sergi Canós and Bryan Mbeumo are both creative players, who chip in with goals too.
Like any promoted team, the season ahead can be summed up in one word – survival. Brentford will no doubt be most people’s pick to be one of the three teams to be relegated back into the EFL Championship. And history has shown that it is likely to happen. They are heading into the toughest football league in the world, straight into the lions den, where the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea are waiting.
After an unremarkable spell at Newcastle United five years ago, where he made just two Premier League appearances, the stage is set for English striker Ivan Toney (below) to take the Premier League by storm. He was in blistering form last season, racking up a record setting 31 goals in 45 league appearances in 2020/21, including scoring a penalty in the play-off final. All eyes are on this prodigious talent who, at just 25, is about to enter his prime years.
But it’ll be tough for him this season. He’ll be battling with a much higher quality of defenders and goalkeepers, all tougher and more talented than the ones he faced in the EFL Championship. Many prolific strikers, who score countless goals in the EFL Championship, struggle to achieve the same in the Premier League (Teemu Pukki, Danny Graham, Aleksandar Mitrović, et al.)
Brentford are also so reliant on the goals of Ivan Toney, as the next highest scorer for them in the league was Sergi Canós with nine. They’ll need more firepower upfront if they’re going to mount a serious Premier League campaign. It’s too risky to rely so heavily on one striker, especially one unproven at this level.
There’s a hard road ahead of them, but other teams of a similar size to Brentford have managed to survive, and even thrive, in the Premier League. Fans of Wigan Athletic, Bournemouth, Fulham and Huddersfield Town will tell you that it can be done. For Brentford, the fight to stay in the Premier League could go to the wire.
Brentford have had a busy transfer season so far, bringing in Frank Onyeka from Midtjylland, Kristoffer Ajer from Celtic and Myles Peart-Harris from Chelsea.
Location Brentford, West London
Stadium Brentford Community Stadium (17,250 capacity)
20/21 Final League Position 3rd in EFL Championship (promoted to the Premier League via the play-offs)
Opening Game of 21/22 Season home to Arsenal
21/22 Predicted Final League Position 16th
It’s always tough for a small club in the Premier League, but if Frank can keep his squad together and add a few quality players, and manage to keep everyone fit, particularly the exceptional Toney, Brentford’s first season in the top division in over seven decades should be a memorable one.