Covid cases, injury set-backs and inconsistent league form – the opening few months of Brentford’s inaugural Premier League campaign has been nothing short of a whirlwind.
As far as the league table is concerned, the Bees are firmly entrenched in mid-table but more importantly in terms of survival, nine points ahead of the drop zone after accruing 20 points from just 16 games.
Following the dramatic comeback win over Watford, Thomas Frank’s side were due to play three games in the space of 9 days until coronavirus obliterated the fixture list with the last two matches against Manchester United and Southampton subsequently postponed.
Even before Brentford’s 13 covid cases across players and staff, injuries had taken their toll on a streamlined squad full of talent but lacking in top-flight experience and, with the club well-positioned in the table, this may be the right time to bolster the ranks.
Brentford have always recruited smartly but due to a combination of the global pandemic and Brexit in conjunction with the demands that Premier League football brings, it is slowly adapting and changing to the new-found environment.
Last summer the Bees spent upwards of £30m with almost half of that amount spent on the arrival of Norwegian centre-back Kristoffer Ajer from Celtic.
The 23-year old was crucial in Brentford’s sensational start to the season but a hamstring injury picked up during the Carabao Cup win at Stoke back in October has seen him ruled out until the new year.
With Frank’s insistence on playing a back three and niggling injuries to other centre-backs, it has put further pressure on club captain Pontus Jansson who is also out of contract next summer.
Although experienced Danish international Zanka was brought in on a one-year deal to boost the numbers, planning for any potential Jansson departure with a young but experienced replacement is something the Bees may have to consider in January.
Similarly, the right wing-back position is another area where Brentford look extremely light with the side heavily reliant on Sergi Canos and Mads Roerslev – the former a winger by trade.
The arrival of another natural wing-back could see Canos move into his preferred attacking midfield role, providing Frank with more options and creativity in the final third.
One player’s return which will be much-celebrated in this respect is Josh Dasilva who is expected back in the new year following his recovery from a long-term hip injury.
The re-emergence of Dasilva as an advanced eight could solve Brentford’s lack of cutting edge and creativity in the middle of the park as Matias Jensen’s inconsistent form and Shandon Baptiste’s injury history mean both cannot necessarily be relied upon.
Much of the goalscoring onus has rested on the shoulders of Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo over the past year with their responsibilities changing with promotion.
Premier League football has seen Toney become less of an out-and-out striker this term, instead dropping deeper and providing for Mbeumo, who uses his blistering pace to run in behind the opposition defence.
While Yoane Wissa has shown glimpses of his potential since joining in the summer and a more advanced Canos would be another option, another pacey forward may further alleviate some of the burden as well as provide Frank with another option should he wish to play three strikers.
Whatever new signings may arrive though, Brentford go into next month in a position of strength and on track to secure Premier League survival so don’t expect their approach to deviate too much from what has brought them success so far.