Now the real work begins for Brentford after ‘circus’ under the Friday night lights vs Arsenal

·4-min read
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(Getty Images)

Turn off the Friday night lights; now the real work begins.

Brentford’s Premier League debut could hardly have gone any better, a landmark win over an elite club - if not team - as fans filled their new home for the first time to welcome top-flight football to a corner of west London that has been without it since just after the war.

Thomas Frank spent well over an hour on media duty after full-time following last Friday’s 2-0 win over Arsenal, raving about the magnitude of the occasion and the result for the “bus stop in Hounslow”.

But it was a snapshot photo of him celebrating with a young fan, Woody, that went viral and so perfectly captured the community spirit mentioned almost as frequently as “data” and “four pubs” when it comes to this club.

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(Getty Images)

“It was a crazy, extreme experience on Friday night. It was a circus,” Frank said.

“Sky told us we won't experience that kind of media again unless we win the Premier League! So I said: 'OK, let's try to win it!’

“It will always be a fantastic memory, Friday night.”

But if their victory over Arsenal showcased all the primetime glitz and glamour of the Premier League, combined with the “anyone can beat anyone” mantra it loves to project on itself around the world, then Saturday’s trip to Selhurst Park to take on Crystal Palace offers up the other half of the top-flight reality.

It is a potentially gritty London derby, hidden away behind the reinstated 3pm TV blackout, a fixture which, even with all the intrigue around Brentford, is unlikely to find itself too near the top of the provisional Match of the Day running order. The Bees boss is under no illusions.

“The Premier League is more than a Friday night under the floodlights, at our new stadium, opening game where everything is buzzing,” Frank acknowledged. “It's also away to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. We need to perform in different environments and be show we can be consistent, which I believe of course we can but I'm very, very aware it's going to be a difficult game.”

Though the Dane is relishing the extra time on the training pitch that comes with freedom from the rigours of Championship football, the challenge Palace pose is made more complex by the infancy of their development under new coach Patrick Vieira, with one defeat away to Champions League holders Chelsea hardly much to go on when trying to predict how they’ll set up at home to a newly-promoted side.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

“I think I know more of him than he knows of me, let me put it that way,” Frank said of the Frenchman.

“Of course, we watch all the pre-season games but it's difficult to know what to expect completely. Of course, we followed a bit of what he did in Nice to have an idea but we can't be sure of the style of play or the approach to the game and that makes it a little bit more tricky.”

Compare that with facing Arsenal, a team whose aura of vulnerability has become so permanent that the sight of a team in red and white stripes hurling long throws into the box will have triggered traumatic Rory Delap-tinged Stoke flashbacks in the minds of Gunners fans. Jamie Carragher summed it up perfectly on commentary: “New season, same old story.”

Beating Mikel Arteta’s side only increased a swell of goodwill around Brentford that already existed among many neutrals and much of the media as a result of how they operate both on and off the field, along with the novelty of their presence at this level.

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(Getty Images)

The result is that it will likely take far more than a defeat at Palace to bring their honeymoon period to an end, but three points - worth just as much as the three they picked up last week come May - would add further fuel to their charge.

“I think it's about putting a lot of money in the bank and then hopefully we can build on those savings in terms of good performances,” Frank added. “Then in sticky periods the fans and everyone around, the media, knows how much good we have done. But the easy way is just to not get into those sticky periods.”

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(Getty Images)

After the euphoria of opening night, it’s time to get stuck in.

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