THE RISE of Brentford has been incredible but it should not be surprising.
They are a joy to watch on the pitch right now under Thomas Frank, who has them playing a style that is both effective and easy on the eye.
But it is the work they have done off the pitch in recent years that has seen them as stand-out performers in the Championship this season.
The Bees are known as a selling club, but under the guidance of their two sporting directors, they are working two to three windows in advance. By doing this, they have been one step ahead in their recruitment and able to keep moving forward.
This summer they lost Romaine Sawyers and Neal Maupay to West Brom and Brighton, and last summer they sold Chris Mepham to Bournemouth.
But unlike other sides, they are aware of who they are going to lose in the future, and so replace them years earlier from within or by clever and astute signings.
And those signings more often than not come from their extensive knowledge of the lower leagues.
A prime example is Ezri Konsa, who was brought in from Charlton in 2018 for £2.85m, and was sold on to Aston Villa a year later for £12m.
They then signed £3m centre-back Ethan Pinnock from Barnsley — only a few years ago he was playing for Forest Green Rovers in the National League.
They also got Josh Dasilva from Arsenal in 2018, and he progressed into a like-for-like replacement for Sawyers.
And since losing Maupay, Ollie Watkins has moved to centre- forward and links up brilliantly with summer signing Bryan Mbeumo.
When they sign a player, everybody at the club is involved. It is such a forward-thinking system.
They arguably have one of the best scouting systems in the country, working off a database of players that no one has really heard of before they start to tear it up.
They got rid of their reserves and now just play a B team. They have played a Chinese Super League side, Bordeaux and had three games out in Portugal.
They want to play against physical teams that an U-23 opposition would not provide so players are ready to step up.
The appointment of Frank was equally forward thinking.
He has continued to build on the structure and style of play that Dean Smith left behind.
With their new stadium not yet finished and with a very young squad, it could be a year too soon for them to jump into the Premier League but it is a squad designed to constantly develop.
And depending on which team they put out, they have a chance to give a great account of themselves against Leicester.
They have intelligent players and a really good blend of experience, pace and skill. When in full flow, they will take some stopping.