The play-off heartbreak Brentford suffered at Wembley in July could have possibly left a damaging effect on the West London side. However, at this half-way point in the season, it seems like The Bees will once again be challenging for a promotion that would take them to the Premier League for the first time in their history.
Brentford sit in fourth place at present, six points off the leaders Norwich City and just two points off Swansea City who occupy second place. The Bees are also the division’s most in-form side and are currently on a 15-game unbeaten run stretching back to late October, and their game in hand could pave their way into the much-desired automatic positions.
Brentford Could Forget Play-off Heartbreak by Going One Step Further
How Last Season Compares to Their Start This Campaign
The Bees made a rather wobbly start to the 2019/20 Championship campaign, picking up just eight points from their opening eight games, as they saw eventual champions Leeds United race nine points clear of them. But, a run of eight wins in 11 games steered The Bees into the play-offs.
Brentford applied late pressure on the division’s top two when football resumed in June, winning seven games in a row ahead of the final two games and subsequently moved to within a point of West Bromwich Albion in second. Two devastating losses at the hands of Stoke City and Barnsley diminished their chances of automatic promotion but meant that Brentford still had a chance via the play-offs. The Bees managed to overturn a 1-0 defeat at Swansea City with a tremendous 3-1 victory in the second leg – an enormous result and game in Brentford’s final farewell to Griffin Park. But, it was not meant to be for the Bees, who were defeated 2-0 by West London rivals Fulham in the final.
Ahead of the 2020/21 campaign, The Bees were expected to challenge for promotion yet again. But after four games, Brentford had only a single win to their name and it initially seemed that the impact of losing Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma had taken its toll on the young Bees squad.
Similar to last season, the end of October proved to be a turning point for the club, picking up 31 points in their unbeaten run of 15 games – a run that includes the division’s top three.
Turning the Brentford Community Stadium Into a Fortress and Winning a Different Way
The Bees gave Griffin Park the best send-off possible – a win that secured a place at Wembley. Additionally, only Leeds possessed a better home record last season, making the transition to the Brentford Community Stadium increasingly difficult.
However, they have settled into their stylish new stadium seamlessly, losing just one of their 11 games on home soil and netting 18 times in the process. Despite their ability to avoid defeat in their new home, The Bees have somewhat struggled to convert one point into three, drawing five of their 11 league games at the Brentford Community Stadium.
The West London club have also shown a grittier side to them this season, and are seemingly grinding out results this time around. Last season a winning margin that exceeded three goals became quite the norm for Brentford with nine out of their 24 wins (37.5 per cent) exceeding a three-goal winning margin. And, although The Bees have only played 22 games this season, only two out of their 11 wins (18.2 per cent) have exceeded that margin.
Ivan Toney and Sergi Canos Have Filled a Void After Play-off Misery for Brentford
Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma could generate over £50 million for the club, should the latter’s loan deal prove to be successful, but their departures were expected to leave the club short in an attacking sense.
The void left by Benrahma saw 23-year-old Sergi Canos enjoy an uninterrupted run of games at the start of the season, and has since become an integral part of Thomas Frank’s side. The Spanish winger has four goals and two assists in his last seven games and has stepped up to a starring role tremendously.
The 25 goals that Ollie Watkins scored during the 2019/20 campaign was also in need of addressing when his transfer to Aston Villa was announced. The former Exeter City man joined the Villains on a £28 million deal – with add-ons that could exceed £30 million – but it ultimately left the club in need of a centre forward.
Finnish forward Marcus Forss had impressed whilst on loan at AFC Wimbledon during the 2019/20 campaign, but Frank understood what a big leap it would be for the 21-year-old and opted to scour the market. One player who was destined for a Championship move was Peterborough United’s Ivan Toney, who had scored 24 League One goals before their season was curtailed.
With statistics that warranted a big move, Brentford secured the former Newcastle United forward for an initial £5 million, but not many would have predicted this instant impact he had on his new club. Toney netted ten times in his opening ten games for The Bees and is now joint top goal-scorer in the division with 16 goals.
In fact, Toney and Canos’ have been involved of more goal contributions after 22 games than the departed duo were involved in at this point last season.