2021/22 Brentford Player Ratings – Nick Bruzon reveals who tops his player ratings feature after the 38th & final game of The Bees’ season.
The prospect of what comes next and a few months-off already scratching away like an itch that can’t be satisfied. It’s going to be a long wait until early August. As much because of the excitement just gone.
Those incredible wins on the road at everywhere from Wolves to West Ham to Watford. Not forgetting, of course, the Champions Of Europe. Chelsea. Trashed 4-1 in their own back yard.
At home, the incredible atmosphere leading to the opening day defeat of Arsenal. The crazy 3-3 with Liverpool. Edouard Mendy’s one man show to deny the Bees a point, let alone three.
Not to mention the most wonderful piece of transfer activity with the signing of Christian Eriksen in January. Yes, actual Christian Eriksen. My word, he was next level. That wait to next season will be as much dominated by the question of whether he’ll channel his inner Partridge and demand a second series.
Throughout all of this, we’ve been conducting a post-match review to try and figure out who has been Brentford’s overall top performer on a game-by-game basis. A simple methodology of looking for a top five performers with the Star Man awarded a score of five points. Second place gets four down to one point for the fifth placed. Scores are then tallied up to give an overall total.
Coming in to the final game, Sunday’s visit from Leeds United, it was still hanging in the balance. Rico Henry v Ivan Toney at the top. Christian Norgaard uncatchable with the accolade of the most top five appearances.
So, to the elephant in the room, Leeds United. It wasn’t that it was a necessarily bad performance but after so much build up and that most tantalising of double prizes – a top ten finish for Brentford and the chance to relegate the Elland Road outfit – everybody fluffed their lines.
Wins for Newcastle United, Crystal Palace, Brighton and Leicester City meant they all finished above the Bees.
Even if Brentford had picked up all three points, the highest we could have finished would have been eleventh. Still well beyond the expectations of even pundit as, to be fair, was our final position.
Yet knowing how well we’ve played in recent months, one couldn’t help but feel a little flat as to how it had just run out of steam at the finish.
Brentford’s cause not helped by Kris Ajer being forced to limp off after all three substitutions had been made and then Sergi Canos exciting and infuriating the home support in equal measure. Within 15 minutes of coming on for Rico Henry he’d equalised with a quite delicious header that put new spring in the race for final table position. His excitement in celebrating by taking his shirt off earning the obligatory booking.
Any lingering joy promptly quashed two minutes later by a second yellow and an early bath after he’d gone through Leeds’ goalscorer. The Bees down to nine men and the last hopes of salvaging anything more than a draw now gone. Burnley would have to do it themselves if Leeds were to join the Championship clubs.
Alas, they were unable to pull one back at Turf Moor (succumbing to a 2-1 defeat) whilst Jack Harrison got a knife, plunged it deep into the hearts of the Brentford faithful before opening a packet of saxa and pouring the contents deep into the gaping hole with a 94th minute winner. The ultimate rubbing salt into the wound.
Leeds safe with a 2-1 win. Brentford ending the campaign with a bump. Burnley down. The frustration about what might have been still red raw on Monday morning but, as we’ve been saying all season, a campaign is defined by 38 games. Not an ad-hoc result. Not a short term run of fixtures – good or bad.
We might have been denied a fairy tale ending but 2021/22 was still one hell of a ripping yarn and, personally speaking, I can’t wait for it all to start again.
So, the final top five of the season. Being honest, it wasn’t the best Brentford performance of the campaign whilst the team were missing both Ethan Pinnock and Christian Norgaard. There was still more than sufficient quality out there to have picked up the points had the cards fallen that bit kinder for us. Instead, Leeds got the breaks and the Bees gave them a big helping hand.
2021/22 Brentford Player Ratings (Top 5 players from Gameweek 38 vs Leeds)
1st (Star Man) – Yoanne Wissa
Gave it his all. Ran and ran. Plus he got the assist for Sergi’s goal.
The last few months have been quite wonderful in seeing him develop from the role of ‘super-sub’ into a genuine threat from the start. Has now found his feet in this team and the Premier League.
Next season could see him become a very special player indeed.
2nd – Mathias Jensen
Thomas Frank normally gets his substitutions spot on but the removals of Mathias (and also Rico Henry) were as frustrating as they come. One can only assume injury related decisions. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course, whilst anyone can be a tactical genius from the safety of the stands but pulling Jensen off when he was stepping in to his game broke the flow.
Josh Dasilva is no bad alternative and, had it worked, we’d all be hailing Thomas as the guru he is. This time though, Mathias can count himself hard done by given the way he played for that first hour.
3rd – Vitaly Janelt
Any team will be the weaker for no Christian Norgaard but Vitaly showed why is is so highly rated. Why he has become an integral part of this side. Why he has ended the season in our top five.
Strong challenges and confident passing were the order of a day where too many of his team mates weren’t at the races.
4th – Rico Henry
Like Jensen, his early departure (there was just over half an hour to go) could be argued to have changed the course of the game. Our most potent attacking threat after Wissa on an afternoon that Bryan seemed off his game.
Whilst he was on the pitch there was always the feeling that anything could happen. Sadly, this time, it didn’t but there was still sufficient in that hour on the grass to warrant another top five ranking.
5th – Christian Eriksen
As much because of who else? Still sprayed the ball in and around the box but in a game where too many had the proverbial bad day at the office, even Christian played a bad pass at one point. Not a typo. Then again, such has been the absolute quality he has added since that first start at Norwich City (of which there were still plenty of reminders against Leeds) that even a quiet game by his standards is still sufficient to hit our top five….
All of which means that the final figures are in. The game-by-game scores have been added up, our season long star man can be crowned and the top five revealed. So, in reverse order.
2021/22 Brentford Player Ratings – Top 5 Players Overall
5th place – Vitaly Janelt (38 points)
12 x Gameweek Top 5 appearances, including 3 x Star Man performances.
That he only cost £0.5million is as much testament to the shrewd nature of the Brentford transfer machine as it is to his own progress.
We all knew Vitaly was good at Championship level but he has made the transition to Premier League look as easy as stealing candy from a baby. Liverpool home and, of course, Chelsea away where the two goals were taken with ice cool nerve and precision execution amongst the many highlights of a campaign where he stepped into the global limelight with aplomb.
4th place – Bryan Mbeumo (46 points)
16 x Gameweek Top 5 appearances, including 3 x Star Man performances.
Bryan had hit the ground running when he joined the Bees but, it would be fair to say, he appeared to be struggling upon his return from that first case of Covid way back in Lockdown One.
Thankfully, his maiden season in the top flight has seen him doing what we know and love him for. Terrifying defences. Shooting on sight. Scoring goals. Cripes, even his hitting the woodwork so often became a bit of a cult reference.
The calmness with which he steered home that last minute winner from the penalty spot at home to Watford or the ball to release Ivan Toney at Stamford Bridge up there with his very best.
3rd place – Christian Norgaard (47 points)
19 x Gameweek Top 5 appearances, including 1 x Star Man performance.
Brentford’s Mr. Consistent, hitting our top five in half of the season’s total league games.
He has, of course, benefitted from playing alongside his international team-mates Jensen and Eriksen but make no mistake about his own individual ability and performance.
An absolute rock in that defensive midfield position yet a player with the ability to drive forward, to shoot and to even score from time to time.
Only Mendy’s finger tips denying him a last gap bicycle kick equaliser at home to Chelsea which would have taken the roof off Lionel Road in a manner akin to which it did when he scored the game sealing second against Arsenal. You know, when Brentford went top of the Premier League
2nd place – Ivan Toney (53 points)
15 x Gameweek Top 5 appearances, inclduing 6 x Star Man performances.
Goals win games and until a late flurry from Leicester City, Harry Kane was the only English player to have scored more than Ivan in the Premier League. In the end, to score 12 in a first season at the level is a quite wonderful achievement. As much given the change in his game where you would find Ivan doing as much work at the back or building play as you would see him in the opposition box.
A true all-rounder with the regular refrain – at least prior to the arrival of some much needed midfield support from Christian Eriksen – was the impossible ask of how do you clone him?
The hatrick at Norwich City, including two more of those dead-eye penalty kicks, followed by his brace at home to Burnley, a purple patch that suggested longer exposure to Eriksen will only work more magic for Ivan and Brentford next season.
1st place – Rico Henry (59 points)
18 x Gameweek Top 5 appearances, inclduing 4 x Star Man performances.
Ivan may have the headline grabbing leads but with a ‘top five’ appearance rating just one behind Christian Norgaard, Rico Henry has been very much our overall star man this season.
If the wish to clone Ivan is one that remains unfulfilled, in Rico we may have already done it. The perfectly timed tackling of a laser sighted full back or as a winger with blistering pace and deadly delivery, he really has been two players for the price of one.
Take your pick of his stand out moments but, for me, it his overall emergence as a player that has frightened the vast majority of the Premier League.
We all knew he could do it in the Championship but to step up and do it at this level has been nothing shy of stunning. It has been a campaign which, if all as as it should be, can only continue with his receiving a call up from Gareth Southgate. With the World Cup beckoning in November/December, if there is any justice, Rico will be on that plane.