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2023-24 Brentford Player Ratings – Matchweek 35

2023-24 Brentford Player Ratings – Matchweek 35
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A 1-0 reverse for Brentford at Everton on Saturday evening came in a game that felt the quintessential example of ‘After the Lord Mayor’s show’.

Luton’s reverse at Wolves earlier in the afternoon officially confirming that the Bees will now start a fourth season in the Premier League. Something that had felt all but assured well before but football being what it is, corpulent singers have been known to start loosening their vocal chords at the eleventh hour.

Everton were still in with a mathematical chance of a trip to the Championship but even they were as good as over the line following those two fine wins in as many games. For them, as much as anything else the motto was ‘don’t lose’. They played the script to perfection and as Thomas Frank described it at full time, “A very even match between two teams that actually neutralised each other… an even game that should have been 0-0, a little bit boring”.

That’s not to criticise our hosts. You didn’t need to be Russell Grant to read which way Sean Dyche was going to set up his team to play. Thankfully so, given the astrologer’s alleged powers are about as reliable as his claims to have designed the mid-90’s Brentford badge – nonsense. Everton did what they do. Brentford went 4-3-3 again and didn’t.

Thomas Frank fully flexing his selection muscles and dropping both Mikkel Damsgaard and Keane Lewis-Potter from those who did so well against Luton the week before. From a personal perspective I was surprised and would have kept them in.

However, when you look at who came in instead – Captain Christian Norgaard and Ivan Toney – then these are hardly bottom of the barrel selections. Quite honestly, it was great seeing fans finally in a position where we could debate the team selection once the starting XI were revealed.

At the end of the day, Clive, it didn’t really matter. The Bees front three looked out of sorts. Missing the drive and spark from the week prior. The midfield choked. Chances at an absolute premium and a first-half that seemed to be a test event for the world cup of watching paint dry.

The second, marginally better. Ivan Toney with the one clear chance after Mathias Jensen found rare space and played a wonderful ball through on the diagonal. It couldn’t have fallen any sweeter for Toney who had positioned himself perfectly.

With the ball coming to the feet of the England striker, he could only find his international team mate rather than the back of the net. Jordan Pickford doing a fine job to smother a close range effort when, being honest, most of us would have expected to see the net rippling. That’s football. It happens. End of.

That was about it for the Bees. Everton sent out a warning when Dwight McNeil’s shot flew past Flekken before cannoning to safety off the bar. They finally found the net shortly after. A corner kick seeing the ball cleared, half cleared again but finding a way back in to the box. Idrissa Gueye then firing it through the crowd and into the back of the net where, being equally honest, Jensen and Norgaard might have been able to get in the way. They didn’t. That’s football. It happens.

It really was just one of those. Chances minimal. KLP and Schade with the only other real efforts of vague note for the Bees. Both teams struggling to put together cohesive spells of creativity. The hosts irritating with former Brentford number 26, these days skippering Everton (presumably he’s been handed coin calling duties because his ability to flip sides make him their ideal tosser), and giving his us his own entry into the canon of sh*thousery.

With the Bees chasing the game – albeit with the speed of an arthritic steamroller – a rare moment saw us in the danger zone. When a throw in was won and taken quickly up their end, the ‘captain’ deliberately kicked the spare ball off the plastic cone and well in to the field of play in an attempt to disrupt proceedings.

Let’s be honest, had it been Neal doing the same for us we’d have loved it. That it was him, though. Urghh. On the plus side, from all the nonsense The Bees did win a corner and a potential VAR penalty after the ball struck the same player’s arm. Alas, nothing given. Much as with the prolonged offside check on the game’s only goal. I guess Michael Oliver in the video hot seat really does support Newcastle United after all, rather than being a closest Nottingham Forest fan.

We’re in the depths of slim pickings though. Well done Everton for doing what they had to. No complaints about them. On another day Brentford might have done better but they didn’t. All the conjecture in the world about coulda shoulda woulda won’t change the facts of a strangely subdued performance.

Instead, it’s that time to look at the star player and our game by game top five. As always, we give five points for first, four for second place, three for third etc with the totals added up game by game to find an overall winner after game 38.

As Thomas Frank put it in his own post-match interview, “As a team we played average. There aren’t many players who stood out, a few. The front three weren’t at their best”.

He’s not wrong so we’ll keep it brief this week. The positive being that next up is the home game with Fulham. If ever there was the perfect opportunity to release some of the frustrations then…

2023-24 Brentford Player Ratings from Matchweek 35 (vs Everton)

1st (Star player: 5 points) – Nathan Collins
Back to his best in this one. Let’s not forget Nathan is only 22 years old and as such represents an acquisition with remarkable potential. This was one of those games where he showed it all again.

The first half especially he seemed to be through everything. Whenever the ball came into our danger zone he was there. It was Nathan putting in the block, heading it clear or making the pass out of the box. Ordinarliy it’s Ethan who dominates. Who stands out. Who, quite rightly, takes the plaudits. So to see Nathan as the main man this time around felt really good. With the pair of them in sync, the options it opens up ahead with the additional midfield selection have the potential to make the team even more exciting.

2nd (4 points) – Mathias Jensen
On an afternoon where the midfield seemed lost in the gloom, Mathias was the one bright light.

We’ve spoken earlier about that one, golden chance he created but in truth there was more than that. If the ball was even going to reach the front line it was through Jensen. Certainly, until the subs came into play (more later).

Ten out of ten for effort and endeavour in at least trying to get through. In trying to create opportunity. Hey, he even put himself about a bit and clocked up a few tackles on the stat count.

3rd (3 points) – Sergio Reguilón
Again, like Mathias, one of the few players to show some creative drive going forwards. With, all being well, Rico Henry returning in four games’ time it will be interesting to see what happens when Sergio’s loan spell expires in June.

Certainly he has become a valuable and exciting member of the team, with this game another example of the Spanish international reading the room just right. Did what he needed to at the back. Suggested that something might happen on the break.

4th (2 points) – Mikkel Damsgaard
I don’t think he deserved to be benched following the Luton game but that’s why Thomas is head coach, not yours truly. He makes the tough calls and normally gets them right.

That said, in the twenty five minutes he was on pitch, Mikkel at least continued his form of recent games. Continued showing is his enthusiasm and potential. Showed us some actual fight.

Everton away is the sort of game where last season he’d have been a fish out of water. Struggling to break though gritty and turgid opponents. This time around at least, he looked like a genuine threat. Whether he should have started will always be the stuff of conjecture but – like KLP and Schade – he has given Thomas another nice problem for Fulham

5th (1 point) – Ethan Pinnock
Sorry KLP. It was almost you.

We’ve rightly noted the work done by Nathan Collins in this one but I also thought Ethan was very solid, too. On a game where creative opportunity was at an absolute premium, keeping it tight at the back was an absolute pre-requisite. Don’t mistake the even nature of the game as any sign of weakness. Everton still had their moments. Still pressed.

Ethan just did what he does – one of those Vitaly type performances where he quietly goes about his business doing it all just right

2023-24 Brentford Player Ratings – Top 5 Players Overall (after Matchweek 35)

All of which means that with just three games to go this campaign ,the player of the season winner could go any way. Christian and Bryan are tied at the top with Ethan just behind. Those three seem uncatchable but who knows what might happen at the Gtech on Saturday?

T1st – Christian Norgaard, Bryan Mbeumo (43 points)
3rd – Ethan Pinnock (40 points)
4th – Mathias Jensen (33 points)
T5th – KLP, Vitaly Janelt (31 points)

Follow @NickBruzon on Twitter.

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