Brentford FC: The Premier League newcomers
I’m not sure that there is anything better in this world than being a Brentford fan in 2021. Of course, my hyperbole here is biased but following Brentford this year has been my pride and joy during a somewhat unforgiving final year of university. Having said that, balancing a dissertation, the reopening of clubs in Leeds, and trekking hundreds of miles across England to watch some blokes kick a ball around a field for 90 minutes, has been Tom Frank(ly), exquisite.
Rewind more than a decade ago, to where my love affair with Brentford began, and you probably would never have heard of this small West London-based team. My first game back in 2008 was a truly grandiose affair which saw the mighty Bees overcome the ferocity and fervour of none other than Accrington Stanley.
I didn’t think anything could top that day, but fast forward to 2021 and Brentford are now playing host to some of the biggest and best teams in the world. Wins against Arsenal – I know this doesn’t count for much nowadays – Wolves, and West Ham have constituted what has been an incredible start to Premier League life for Brentford who are currently sitting pretty in 14th place.
Perhaps the most telling feature of our fantastic start to the season is that I’ve walked away from the majority of games thinking “how have we not gotten more?” Now, I don’t claim to be an xG custodian (an abbreviation for ‘expected goals’ for the football illiterate), but if I was, I would certainly be inclined to present a strong case for Brentford to be firmly cemented in the European places. In fact, courtesy of the xG Philosophy page on Twitter, our xP of 17 (‘expected points’ for those unable to make the jump) would actually have Brentford sitting 3rd, just behind those ‘small teams’ from up north, Liverpool and Man City.
I know what you’re thinking, xG means nothing in the grand scheme of things. Goals and points matter, expected goals and points don’t. I would tend to agree with you there, but it must be mentioned that it’s no small feat to hammer the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool and come away from those games knowing that you probably should have won.
Whilst debates over xG and other related football statistics can go on for hours – and believe me, they can – what is not up for debate is that the start to our season has been a thousand times better than anyone could have ever imagined. Three wins, three draws, and a place in the quarter finals of the League Cup is only slightly uncommon for a newly promoted team.
What’s also not up for question is the sheer pleasure it gives me to be living with a West Ham fan – whom we swept aside with a devastating 94th minute winner – and a Man United fan, who, well, just because it’s funny. Both of my non-believing housemates condemned Brentford to the same fate that faces the likes of Norwich, and possibly Leeds if I dare say it. I hope they will reconsider their initial judgement, even though this article may come back to haunt me should the wheels come off later down the line. Coincidentally, I wrote this article before we were 3-0 down to Burnley at half time on Saturday the 30th of October.
Regardless of their fate, the real question is: how far can Brentford go this season? Truthfully, I don’t know, but to paraphrase Rio Ferdinand, just enjoy it. Although, I am thoroughly looking forward to next season’s European tour.
Image Credit: Sky Sports