As Brentford reach the halfway point of their second year in the Premier League, many fans are wondering when the bubble will burst. For fans of the west London outfit, this magic carpet ride to the very top of English football must feel like a dream, and after an impressive debut year in which they perhaps overachieved, Thomas Frank’s side finally look as if they’re due to wake up. Some inconsistency in recent weeks has cost them crucial points, and with the Premier League betting odds tipping so many teams for the drop, Brentford will want to avoid a relegation dogfight.
Indeed, with so little points separating the bottom 11 sides in the league at the time of writing — last-place Nottingham Forest are just five points from Everton who are 12th — there is certainly some unpredictability regarding the battle for survival. Brentford find themselves on the periphery of the top half, but with a thrashing to Aston Villa followed by a draw at home to struggling Wolverhampton Wanderers, you wonder if the pressure is on Frank to turn things around before they start to creep down the table.
The Bees have a been a breath of fresh air since their promotion, with Frank an articulate manager who has adapted well to the pressure of top-flight football. With this in mind we don’t think they’ll quite face the drop, but read on as we look at what Brentford need to do to guarantee their safety and ensure a third successive stint in the Premier League.
Feed Ivan Toney
Since the departure of Christian Eriksen, who joined Manchester United over the summer, Ivan Toney has been a one-man wrecking machine at the Brentford Community Stadium. While the likes of Bryan Mbeumo and new signing Mikkel Damsgaard have chipped in with sporadic goals and assists, Brentford have looked bereft of creativity, and left Toney to his own devices as far as goals are concerned.
Despite not getting any minutes during his first England call up, the 26-year-old looks destined for a place in Gareth Southgate’s Qatar squad, with his eight goals this season making him a suitable understudy for Harry Kane, having outscored the likes of Callum Wilson and Tammy Abraham so far with just a couple of weeks until the tournament starts. Brentford will need him in top form to stay up.
Shore up at the back
Since the home win over Brighton at the start of October, Brentford have looked vulnerable at the back. The four goals they shipped at Villa Park would have frustrated Frank, and while goalkeeper David Raya started the campaign in sensational form, that has flatlined and the Spaniard will need to step up in the final few games before the winter break.
Ben Mee has chipped in with goals but the former Burnley captain has struggled in a more attacking back four, with Kristoffer Ajer deputising at right-back but limited technically by his tall frame. Frank might have to rethink his defensive strategy if goals keep flying in.
Make the most of home form
In their very first game of Premier League football, the bellowing chants of the returning Brentford faithful were enough to get their side over the line in the win over Arsenal. Things were similar in the 4-0 thrashing of Manchester United this season, but have sobered at times due to some lacklustre performances. Bretford know home form is key to survival, and if they can win their remaining games at the Brentford Community Stadium before the World Cup, they stand in good stead to breach the top half ahead of Boxing Day.