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Brentford 2021-22 season review - star player, best moment, standout result

:Headline: Brentford 2021-22 season review - star player, best moment, standout result :
Sports Mole looks back on a memorable 2021-22 campaign for Brentford, who comfortably avoided relegation during their first season in the Premier League.
Sports Mole

Returning to the top tier of English football for the first time in 75 years, Brentford have made quite an impression on the Premier League this season, following promotion from the Championship last summer.

The Bees overcame an alarming dip in form at the start of 2022 to finish the campaign safely in mid-table, while upsetting both the odds and the established order to post several memorable results.

Here, Sports Mole takes an in-depth look back at Brentford's expectation-defying 2021-22 campaign.


Final league position: 13th

EFL Cup: Quarter-finals

FA Cup: Fourth Round

Top scorer: Ivan Toney (12)

Most assists: Bryan Mbeumo (7)

Launching themselves onto the big stage with typical gusto and no little style, Brentford's debut campaign in the Premier League has surpassed even the most optimistic fan's expectations.

Despite a worrying stumble in mid-season, the Bees have adapted to the top flight effortlessly, and a 13th-placed finish - just five points shy of the top half - represents a commendable return for their efforts.

Kicking off with a raucous night at the Brentford Community Stadium - packed with previously locked-out fans to celebrate the occasion - Thomas Frank's team got off to a dream start by beating London rivals Arsenal in their opening fixture, before drawing their next two games to remain unbeaten heading into September.

That month featured another remarkable result on home turf, as the Bees twice fought back from behind to secure a 3-3 draw with Liverpool.

A run of four straight defeats later in the autumn brought the first signs of concern for the ever-optimistic Frank - particularly with two coming against potential relegation rivals Burnley and Norwich City - and only a win over Aston Villa in Brentford's first game of the new year intervened on another streak of defeats through December and January.

When the West London outfit then exited the FA Cup at the hands of struggling Everton a bleak spring was in prospect, but a masterful move by Frank and the club hierarchy secured one of the signings of the season: bringing the elite-level skill and experience of comeback kid Christian Eriksen to their modest corner of the capital.

After appearing for the first time in a 2-0 defeat to lowly Newcastle, which dragged the Bees deeper into trouble, Eriksen's starts grew more frequent and so did Brentford victories.

Five wins from six took in successes against Norwich, Burnley, Chelsea, West Ham and Watford, by which time they were almost safe, and finishing with six points from their final three fixtures capped off a season to remember.


Wins: 13 (11th)
Losses: 18 (5th)
Goals scored: 48 (11th)
Yellow cards: 61 (12th)
Red cards: 3 (4th)
Passes: 14,601 (15th)
Shots: 442 (13th)
Big chances missed: 37 (12th)
Saves: 129 (4th)
Tackles: 607 (12th)
Own goals: 2 (5th)
Hit woodwork: 12 (8th)
Clearances: 808 (4th)


Finally taking the step up to the Premier League after years of incremental progress, Brentford managed to win promotion this time last year, largely due to the outstanding form of Ivan Toney, who had arrived as the replacement for Aston Villa-bound Ollie Watkins in the summer of 2020.

His 33 goals helped the Bees finish top scorers in the Championship, and they took the scenic route to the top flight; emerging triumphant in the playoffs at Wembley and putting the previous year's final defeat to Fulham behind them.

Throughout the club's first season since leaving Griffin Park for the Brentford Community Stadium, the groundwork was laid for an excellent 2021-22 campaign, in which they have inevitably suffered more defeats and conceded more goals at the higher level, but also impressed observers with their commitment and cohesion.

Toney's goal tally has unsurprisingly diminished too, but his lethal partnership with Bryan Mbeumo withstood the jump to Premier League status, while Thomas Frank demonstrated that his leadership style can also thrive amid the English game's elite.

Incidentally, Brentford's performances in cup competition were of a similar standard this year and last, with the Bees making the EFL Cup semis in 2021 compared with the last eight this term, and they have exited the FA Cup at the fourth round stage in successive seasons.


Having only joined Brentford at the end of January, Christian Eriksen has had a transformative effect on a club struggling for Premier League survival, while providing one of the most inspiring sporting comebacks of recent times.

Without missing a beat, the Danish star's return to elite-level competition saw the Bees take 16 points from his first seven appearances after completing a full recovery from last summer's very public cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.

While others were integral in getting Thomas Frank's team to the top flight and then keeping them in contention to retain their place, Eriksen was the catalyst for an improbable charge towards the top half of the table.

The former Tottenham and Inter playmaker has clearly enjoyed every moment in West London; knitting together numerous passing moves in each match and offering the assuredness and quality in possession which makes him one of the world's best creative midfielders.

Top scorer Ivan Toney - another candidate for this award - has also benefited from Eriksen's arrival, as his productivity rose significantly thanks to a stream of chances provided by his new teammate.

Eriksen has also made the Bees more deadly in the set-piece department, and with his help, only Liverpool and Manchester City have created more attempts from dead-balls than Brentford this term.


While the temptation to select April's extraordinary 4-1 win at Stamford Bridge as the highlight of a memorable season is strong, setting the tone on the 2021-22 campaign's opening day showed the watching world what Brentford are all about.

To the incessant backdrop of noisy support from their joyous fans, the Bees tore into an uncertain Arsenal team with a confidence borne of years in steady development towards Premier League status.

Sergi Canos and Christian Norgaard notched for the hosts in either half, as Brentford then withstood a barrage of Arsenal attempts and rode the crest of a wave towards the 2-0 victory which helped the doubters truly believe.

> Click here for a full list of Brentford's results from the 2021-22 season


Making his emotional return to action, nearly nine months after the world held its breath as he lay unconscious in Copenhagen, Christian Eriksen's initial comeback against Newcastle will linger in the memory after all other moments have faded.

The midfielder was given a standing ovation from fans and players on both sides when he emerged as a second-half substitute, completing a remarkable return to the sport after collapsing while playing for Denmark at the Euros.

Thomas Frank had already announced his compatriot would play some part in the game, and Eriksen's introduction came with the Bees two goals down and reduced to 10 men - but all that anguish was momentarily forgotten as the football fraternity rose to acclaim an inspirational individual, and perhaps the highest-calibre player to have donned a Brentford shirt.

Though the Bees are very much about the collective as opposed to particular individuals, one of the most anticipated moments in Premier League history has to outrank all others - even Yoane Wissa's scarcely believable fourth goal in the away win at Chelsea.


Announce Christian.

Completing the long-term signing of their new talisman, following a superb six-month initial stay, would fulfill the dreams of Brentford fans for several years to come, but realistically it remains a long shot.

Given Christian Eriksen's proven ability at the top end of the global game, it is far more likely that he will depart for pastures new during the summer, so somehow replacing his creative input must be a priority for Thomas Frank.

Having ridden out a prolonged period of worsening results - the first time in years that the club had not been winning at least every other week - Frank is clearly the right man to lead the Bees forward next term, when they will have to fight off the second-season syndrome which often afflicts promoted sides: Sheffield United and Leeds being the most recent examples.

The Danish coach is unlikely to compromise, though, and we should expect more progressive and tactically adept displays from his entertaining side. Reinforcing defensively will be another priority in the transfer window, as he seeks to bolster one of the division's thinnest squads.


A shining example to modestly-sized clubs who aspire to achieving Premier League status in a sustainable manner, Brentford have provided one of the feel-good stories of another season sullied by the grim reality of football finances.

Fans have a team to be proud of, and a manager with the charisma and know-how to maximise his resources, so having finished any higher than 17th represents a bonus for the Bees.

Of course, maintaining such momentum now that the only way is probably sideways will be a particular challenge, but a united squad will continue to give their all for the cause.

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