Brentford vs Chelsea: Why the Bees have started so well in the Premier League

“It is a particular story and I actually do hope it continues,” Jamie Carragher stated after Brentford’s dramatic 3-3 draw with Liverpool, the final time they have been at residence and reside on Sky.

Brentford might hardly have dreamed of a greater begin to their first season within the Premier League; seventh within the desk after three wins and only one defeat from seven video games, above Arsenal and Tottenham.

They utterly need to be there too, having crushed Arsenal, Wolves and West Ham, and captured many extra a impartial’s coronary heart than Carragher when Thomas Frank pit his wits in opposition to Jurgen Klopp and got here out even, reside on Saturday Evening Soccer on the finish of final month.

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Premier League newcomers Brentford are unsurprised by their spectacular begin to the season and should not within the high flight ‘to be vacationers’, says Marcus Gayle

It’s nonetheless barely 5 months since they got here up by way of the Championship play-offs, and whereas champions Norwich stay winless and runners-up Watford have already modified their supervisor, Brentford are excelling; solely six groups have scored extra and three have conceded fewer, one in every of which is that this weekend’s opponents: west London rivals Chelsea.

So how have they accomplished it? Sky Sports activities Information reporter Lyall Thomas, who has reported on Brentford for nearly a decade, takes a glance…

They’ve been enjoying at Premier League stage for some time

Brentford are a superb aspect and a superb membership doing issues the appropriate approach. This has been the case for years, however they have been a greater aspect all through their time within the Championship than their league finishes gave them credit score for, particularly within the final two campaigns.

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They scored extra targets (80 and 79) than some other workforce in these two seasons, and had an anticipated factors tally (xP) to complete within the automated promotion locations each occasions, in response to Wyscout. In each seasons, they’d the second-most pictures (607 and 668) and second most-touches within the opposition field (960 and 1109) behind the 2 champions. By all intents and functions, they’ve already been enjoying at a Premier League stage.

The English soccer pyramid is usually perceived as a descending order of groups based mostly on means however, in actuality, there may be appreciable overlap between the divisions. You would argue that at the least the underside and high sixes from the Premier League and Championship are considerably interchangeable by means of the course of a season.

Whereas onerous to compound statistically, it’s telling that, per 90 minutes final season, Brentford scored extra targets (1.72), created extra possibilities (10), had extra pictures (13.4), transformed extra of them (12.8%), conceded fewer possibilities (0.91) and pictures (8.6), and had extra of the ball (55.6%) than Brighton, Southampton, Wolves and Crystal Palace.

Brentford's Ethan Pinnock celebrates after he open the scoring against Liverpool
Brentford’s Ethan Pinnock celebrates after he open the scoring in a 3-3 draw in opposition to Liverpool

And it’s stark that Frank’s aspect knocked out 4 Premier League groups – Southampton, West Brom, Fulham and Newcastle – throughout their League Cup run, earlier than lastly coming unstuck in opposition to Tottenham. These have been no flukes, creating extra pictures on objective than their opponents in three of these 5 ties.

This run did great quantities for his or her confidence, serving to the workforce to grasp they have been enjoying at Premier League stage whereas nonetheless within the Championship, and so they have introduced this self-belief into this season.

Continuity on the sphere, stability off it

Brentford have a mantra – albeit an unofficial one – that runs by means of the membership from high to backside. It isn’t one thing you can see emblazoned on a coaching floor wall or the membership’s crest. It’s extra a sense you get from the folks there, though you may hear one official remind of it from time to time: “by no means panic”.

It’s the identical whether or not a constructive goal has been achieved – like promotion – or blow has been dealt – like promoting their high goalscorer. Each state of affairs is analysed rigorously, and no rash choices made. It ensures continuity and stability, and continues growth of each facet of the membership.

For instance, give or take a couple of key gamers which have been bought on, Brentford have had kind of the identical workforce for a number of seasons. Co-sporting administrators Phil Giles and Rasmus Ankersen, who’ve been operating the present since 2015, haven’t been tricked by the trope, nor fallen for the lure, of including ‘Premier League expertise’.

Gary Neville highlighted this in his interview with head coach Frank earlier than the opening-day win over Arsenal, asking him if he was involved. Emphatically “in no way” was the reply. Frank stated: “I believe if they’re skilful sufficient, they will play. We have now a couple of internationals, a few of them performed within the Euros, so I do not suppose it issues.”

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Brentford’s co-director of soccer Rasmus Ankersen discusses the membership’s data-driven course of behind discovering a switch goal

It definitely didn’t as they beat Mikel Arteta’s aspect 2-0, and Neville stated it “excited” him that Brentford didn’t have any “yo-yo gamers” that had been seen at this stage earlier than. That they had been provided loads as they looked for a brand new midfielder in the summertime, however as an alternative opted for Frank Onyeka, a 23-year-old, recently-capped Nigeria worldwide from sister membership FC Midtjylland.

It’s this consistency in recruitment – changing good younger gamers with extra good younger gamers – that has seen Brentford exponentially enhance. They’ve the second-youngest squad (24.8 years) within the Premier League and consider they’ll hold creating, relatively than decline.

It means they didn’t must do any drastic work to their squad in the summertime, signing solely 5 gamers, solely two of which have been within the first XI which drew with Liverpool: Onyeka and the centre-back from Celtic, Kristoffer Ajer. Each have slotted properly right into a system that’s effectively established.

Solely two of that XI are of their second seasons – Ivan Toney and Vitaly Janelt – whereas ‘keeper David Raya, centre-back pair Pontus Jansson and Ethan Pinnock, midfielder Christian Norgaard and ahead Bryan Mbeumo are of their third. Sergi Canos is in his fifth and Rico Henry his sixth. The gamers know one another and their roles – they’ve developed collectively.

And the identical might be stated for the workers. Frank was assistant to Dean Smith for 2 years earlier than he changed him in 2018, when assistant Brian Riemer additionally joined. Neil Greig has been head of medical since 2010 and head of research Luke Stopforth has been doing his position even longer. Frank’s different assistant Kevin O’Connor stays the membership’s longest-serving participant of over 20 years, so that you get the thought.

The Thomas Frank impact

There was a second throughout Brentford’s post-Arsenal celebrations when Frank ran over to a younger fan within the crowd and held his palms aloft with the type of wide-eyed elation you’d count on from a father after his kid’s first steps. Not solely did it seize the spirit of the second but in addition the genuinely heat and sincere nature of the Dane.

Thomas Frank celebrates Brentford's win over Arsenal with fan Woody O'Rourke
Thomas Frank celebrates Brentford’s win over Arsenal with fan Woody O’Rourke

But as a coach in English soccer, he stays considerably of an enigma given his few years in cost at senior stage right here. However his teaching expertise is deep and his intelligence concerning the sport even deeper – Frank is undoubtedly one of many high rising coaches in Europe.


“The supervisor has acquired one thing about him; the best way he speaks, in his eyes,” Carragher stated as he analysed the draw with Liverpool on Monday Evening Soccer. “His solutions are very assured. I believe he will be an actual character and character on this league. I believe we’re going to actually take pleasure in him and his workforce.”

It’s one thing Jurgen Klopp has observed too. Forward of the “wild experience” he would later describe in west London, the Liverpool boss stated: “I watched the press convention of Thomas and it was one of the entertaining issues I watched for the previous few years. It was actually good.

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Jamie Carragher discusses Brentford’s 3-3 draw with Liverpool and the way the Bees’ direct fashion of play affected the Reds

“However the soccer they play is unimaginable and the organisation is unimaginable, so clearly Thomas and Brentford are doing an unimaginable job. They’re an extremely well-drilled soccer workforce. Everybody is aware of what to do, everybody is able to make the additional yard.”

Klopp referenced his time as an up-and-coming coach at Mainz whereas speaking about Frank and Brentford, and there are undoubtedly similarities between them; principally the choice for all-out attacking soccer dedicated to creating high-quality possibilities within the field.

Brentford assault closely down the left flank, whereas nearly all of targets have been scored from contained in the six-yard field or centrally from round 12 yards

That’s what Brentford have accomplished for almost all of video games to date. They’ve scored extra targets from contained in the field than some other workforce (10), whereas solely Everton have averaged fewer profitable passes (132 vs 166) and fewer touches within the opposition field (10.5 vs 12) per objective.

But Frank has additionally proven the type of tactical variation you’d count on from the highest coaches, switching to a extra direct strategy in opposition to Liverpool that had Klopp flabbergasted. Earlier than the first-game, Frank stated: “I choose to have a system that we work on; to maintain the construction and the consistency, so the gamers know the patterns, however after all I’m conscious of the have to be versatile” – and that’s simply what they did in opposition to Liverpool.

The vast majority of passing combos are down the left channel

All of Brentford’s workers are stated to be doing their jobs effectively this season, and assistant Brian Riemer must be credited for his or her defensive form and cohesion. However in Frank they’ve a supremely assured and real good man to steer from the entrance and be the face of the membership. His impression within the high flight, on and off the pitch, has undoubtedly been a significant factor to date.

Return of the followers

Brentford supporters helped their side to a 2-0 win over Norwich
Brentford supporters helped their aspect to a 2-0 win over Arsenal on the opening day of the season

You would additionally say that Brentford have had good luck with them to date this season, or as one membership official would say, “we’ve got not had any dangerous luck but”; no VAR mishaps, no penalties that weren’t, no severe accidents, nor distracting scandals.

However folks say you make your personal luck, and Brentford are nonetheless driving a wave of enthusiasm from the supporters that’s taking an awfully very long time to interrupt on the shore; seven years, you would say, since they have been promoted from League One underneath Mark Warburton in 2014. That is the workforce’s greatest run in residing reminiscence. The followers have by no means had it so good.

So there’s a lack of expectation that’s undoubtedly serving to the workforce, and having the followers again within the stadium to really feel that shouldn’t be underestimated. Sure, all of soccer has had a post-pandemic kick, however no different Premier League membership can boast at having actually no expectations in any respect.

Sergi Canos celebrates in front of the Brentford fans (Paul Terry/CSM via ZUMA Wire)
Sergi Canos celebrates in entrance of the Brentford followers after beating Arsenal

This has been the catalyst for some blistering atmospheres on the new Neighborhood Stadium, notably on the primary day in opposition to Arsenal, and it was felt by the gamers. “It was a unbelievable evening and the followers deserve it a lot after the 12 months we have had with the pandemic,” wing-back Canos stated.

“I hope that is going to be our fortress this season. I hope the followers do that each week as a result of we want them. We’re all one as a membership. It may be a tough league so we want their assist.”

And boss Frank has additionally acknowledged that “enjoying at house is all the time a slight benefit” and that “if the followers can create an excellent environment, like they did in opposition to Arsenal, that shall be a large assist.”

It’s definitely anticipated to be the loudest ‘bus cease in Hounslow’ when Chelsea go to Brentford reside on Sky Sports activities’ Saturday Evening Soccer.

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