The build-up to Brentford’s Boxing Day trip to Brighton & Hove Albion was largely focused on off-field matters.
The two clubs have similar philosophies and their two owners – Tony Bloom and Matthew Benham – have a storied past and share a rivalry.
Brighton won the race to the Premier League back in 2017 after half a decade of knocking on the door of the top flight, while Brentford would have to wait another four years to join them.
Heading into their matchup at the Amex on Sunday, the Bees were ahead of the Seagulls in the table by virtue of goal difference, otherwise equal at this stage of the season. A fairly comfortable 2-0 win for the hosts was definitive to say the least, however.
And while Brentford will have to quickly lick their wounds ahead of Wednesday’s visit of Manchester City, they can still take solace in the fact that they’re impressing onlookers across the world in their maiden Premier League season.
After all, there remains two huge differences between Brighton and Brentford – the former have four seasons worth of top flight experience, and have close to a staggering £200m net spend in the last five years.
Despite that lavish spending, Albion have not finished higher than 15th since reaching the Premier League, though have at least won over critics with their easy-on-the-eye style since Graham Potter replaced Chris Hughton in the dugout.
Benham, a lifelong Brentford fan, would surely back himself and the Bees to have a better four-year stretch if they were able to spend as much on new players.
90min understands that the top brass in west London are keen on securing their Premier League status despite the threat of relegation hardly looming large, and could spend more than £40m in the January window.
Brentford’s competitiveness and tactical flexibility has served them well in the first half of the season, but an injection of quality certainly wouldn’t go amiss. Thomas Frank has resorted to naming several B team players in his recent matchday squads as he searches for ways to contend with their Covid-19 and injury crises.
In recent weeks, Shandon Baptiste and Charlie Goode have emerged as key men for Frank. The duo rarely featured for the Bees in the Championship, with the former spending most of his recent career in League One and the latter in League Two and non-league.