There were positives to be taken from Brentford’s match against Man City in Gameweek 18, says Nick Bruzon. He outlines the 5 best Bees from the game and updates his Top 5 Brentford players overall from the course of the season so far.
Well, that was an evening and a half.
Brentford may have fallen to the defeat predicted by so many yet can walk away from this one with heads held high and much hope for the rest of the season. This, after Thomas Frank’s side – a starting XI picked from the full depths of his squad – ran Manchester City oh so close.
In the end it was a goal from Phil Foden that was sufficient to separate the two teams. The England man, for once managing to stay upright rather than collapsing on those glass ankles that saw him spend more time on the grass than his feet.
Let’s be in no doubt that the visitors were deserving of their win, but it was a night where a stroke of luck early on could have seen things turn out very differently. Wissa and Ivan Toney with the best of the early chances that saw the crowd up on their feet and wondering just how the ball was yet to cross the line.
Then, City broke. Their speed, terrifying. The pressure absorbed and within what felt like mere seconds, Kevin De Bruyne and Foden had gone straight down the other end to make it 1-0. Urghh.
It was a bitter blow and despite the momentary hope offered by VAR, the goal stood. Albeit, technology (and also the post) would come to our aid later on. City could have been out of sight.
In the end, they took the points by the solitary goal.
Brentford were magnificent. Rock solid. Determined. Playing deep but offering little glimmer of space.
The consummate team effort and a performance so at odds with the debacle at The Amex on Boxing Day.
Whilst our own chances were at a premium, it was a night that shows how cruel football can be at times. 11 out of 10 for effort all round but to play that well against this calibre of opposition yet still come away with nothing hurt.
Then again, as long as Brentford can bottle this and keep the momentum going it’ll be a cracker against Aston Villa on Sunday.
All that’s to come.
For now, we need to start the unenviable task of whittling things down to the five top performers. Quite frankly, you could make a case for just about anybody that started. Alvaro Fernandez pulled out a number of cracking stops whilst Matthias Jensen gave a wonderful two fingers to the critics. Pontus was a rock whilst Shandon can count himself unlucky to miss out. Instead, we need to dive in and so from the top…
Brentford Player Ratings from Gameweek 18 (vs Man City)
1st (Star Player) – Dominic Thompson
Enough about Brighton. Nobody came out of that one shining yet the step up in performance and confidence from a man charged with filling in for Rico Henry was next level. One moment in the first half where he completely bamboozled Jesus (not a phrase one would imagine gets used too often) had the crowd in raptures.
There were no nerves despite the stellar presence pushing forward down the right flank. Instead, Dom was clam, confident and took the game to our opponents.
On a night where containment was key, he managed to both suppress the damage as well as providing a handy escape route.
2nd – Frank Onyeka
With Christian Norgaard suspended for this one, there was genuine concern about how we’d cope in the centre of the park.
That was prematch.
By the time the game had finished we’d seen a masterclass from ‘The Tank’. Dominant. Pressing. No nonsense. Wasn’t afraid to pick up the ball and run. Was at the heart of our first half purple patch and came close to giving us the lead, but for the smarts from Ederson in nets.
3rd – Ivan Toney
Cripes. Is there nothing this man can’t do?
Ok, so he didn’t score but it was another of those games where he was just everywhere. His energy and effort is immense. His jump to try and steer home a ball from Wissa just a moment out of sync as otherwise we’d have had that early lead, no question.
Gave as good as he got with Fernandinho and Jesus, amongst others. Good man. His full time analysis on Twitter was as top drawer as his performance: “Not the best kick about year 11s stole our ball.”
4th – Ethan Pinnock
He’s just massive.
Not afraid to get up front (it was his header that created the Wissa / Toney chance), Ethan continues to pull it out the bag at the back. Sliding in. Heading clear. Calm on his feet and not afraid to play the ball rather than go for the Row Z hoof.
It was a defensive performance that can only have had Thomas Frank, and any watching scouts, purring. To nullify a team with over £500m worth of talent in their line up no small feat.
5th – Yoane Wissa
Edges it in to fifth place, as much for his first half drive.
If the goal was going to come, it was via the axis of Ivan, Frank and Wissa.
Looked full of beans and was at the heart of our creativity. Came as close as Toney and Onyeka to giving us the lead before Foden went and did his thing down the other end. Whilst eventually being replaced by Sergi Canos, he was another player who may not normally start but has now given Thomas Frank some much needed options.
Brentford Player Ratings – Top 5 Players Overall (after Gameweek 18)
All of which means that Ivan once again finds clear air at the top of the overall performance charts. Ethan Pinnock continues his upward trajectory and has now hit the top five. With Rico already confirmed as missing the Villa game and Bryan a doubt, could we see more change coming?
1st – Ivan Toney
2nd – Christian Norgaard
3rd – Rico Henry
4th – Bryan Mbuemo
T5th – Vitaly Janelt, Sergi Canos, Ethan Pinnock