Nick picks out his best Bees from their Gameweek 29 win against Burnley and we see how that affects his Top 5 players over the season so far.
Premier League games are like buses. You wait ages for a win and then two come along together.
Brentford pushed Burnley deeper into the relegation mix after an Ivan Toney brace late on saw the Bees emerge 2-0 victors at Lionel Road.
Sean Dyche had set his team up in a ‘don’t lose’ formation and for huge swathes of the afternoon it seemed he may achieve his aim. In the end, the persistence of Thomas Frank’s team paid off. The game changing additions of Mathias Jensen and Yoanne Wissa giving that extra bit of oomph needed to finally see Brentford over the line.
Christian Eriksen provided the pinpoint delivery over the visitors’ penalty box for that man Toney to head home on 85 minutes and bring some much needed relief. The outpouring of noise cathartic but nothing compared to that which greeted Toney’s second.
The free running forward clean through before being scythed in the box by Nathan Collins. The Burnley man with all the subtlety of a farmer ploughing a field and seeing red for his trouble. The spot kick was despatched in the same manner as every other Toney has taken for Brentford – that casual stroll up; that deadly execution. 2-0 Brentford, a formal restart and then the final whistle.
Freed From Desire blasting round Lionel Road. Yoanne Wissa leading the celebratory charge. Dyche’s blood pressure through the roof. Thomas Frank, cool as you like. Strolling into the press conference after his post-match lap of honour with, apparently, a slice of pizza (and three points) in hand.
Brentford dominated from the start but found Dyche’s disciplined Burnley side a very tough nut to crack. Five across the back. Four across the midfield, of which two seemed to be permanently bolstering the back line. Indeed, it was the visitors with the very best effort of the afternoon – at least, until the goals – when Jay Rodriguez saw a curling effort from distance swerve on to the cross bar.
David Raya calm as you like letting it drift over his head and come back off the woodwork. Either he was the only person in the stadium that didn’t see it wobbling towards the top corner or he’s just some sort of savant genius with the ability to read the trajectory to millimetre perfect precision. Let’s go for the latter. Besides, when called upon he was there to protect our modesty. Not that there were too many moments.
For Burnley, a lot of soul searching needed. Ben Mee still injured. Collins sent off. Brentford’s former number 26 lucky not to follow the same fate after a petulant performance. Still, that’s their problem. For Brentford, it was a real pleasure to see a just reward earned after plugging away against such negativity and anti-football for so long.
Eriksen again influential. Rico Henry electric. Bryan Mbeumo working his socks off. A reminder for the fans that a season lasts 38 games and not the recent patch that had only seen one point picked up from a possible 24. All of the sudden we’re 6 points from 6 against two of the candidates looking to take a trip to the Championship.
As ever, the question remains as to who was the Brentford star man? Who is ripping it up in the quest for the season long prize?
Brentford Player Ratings from Gameweek 29 (vs Burnley)
1st (Star Player) – Ethan Pinnock
Whilst Burnley spent the majority of the game trying to ensure they didn’t concede, they weren’t entirely impotent going forward.
A whole flurry of first half corners in particular hinting at the threat they might possess. It was Ethan who was there with clearance after clearance. Heading clear with comforting regularity. Steady on his feet with a succession of timely challenges and interceptions when the visitors threatened from open play. Wonderfully calm after Rico had been caught napping with a somewhat undercut backpass.
The switch from three to two centre backs has made no difference in our ability to mop up counter attack and on Saturday, it was Ethan who led from the front. Or should that be the back?
2nd – Christian Eriksen
A second start, a second win and a second, err, second place for the man of the moment.
If Ethan dominated the backline, Christian was very much his counterpart in the centre. The precision of his passing and cross field passes simply jaw-dropping. Sergi and Bryan the grateful beneficiaries of balls splayed out across the field of play with almost magnetic attraction.
Eriksen produced the game changing moment of magic for Ivan’s first with a cross that would be later described as “Just dreamland”. Not my words, Carol. The words of Alan Shearer on Match Of The Day
3rd – Ivan Toney
Five goals in two games is the level of form we were spoiled rotten with last season. What a time for Ivan to rediscover the goalscoring form we saw at the front end of the season.
The first, whilst reliant on that beautiful delivery from Eriksen, still needed to be met. The run to intercept it still needed to be timed. As with the opener against Norwich, Toney did all the hard work in losing his man at the back stick and then making the finish look as easy as you like. It was anything but. Likewise, the penalty was put away with his customary coolness. It’s amazing how he still makes it look so easy
4th – Christian Norgaard
Did his thing with metronomic regularity. Mopping it up and playing it out. Getting stuck in and delighting in the partnership with his namesake. I saw one correspondent describe him as ‘faultless’ and it would be hard to disagree with that assessment.
Ironically, it was his replacement that helped kick fire the Bees on the final push but make no mistake as to how important he was in keeping the Bees going to that point.
5th – Sergi Canos
Freed from the shackles of his wing back role, Sergi has been reinvigorated.
If he was perhaps trying too hard at times against Norwich (sometimes, putting a foot through the ball is ok), the Burnley game saw him doing what we know and love. Fast, tenacious and driving us forward. Exhorting the crowd and sing his best to open up the visitors’ defence.
With Bryan playing a molar role on the other side, it was a tough call between the pair of them for this final berth but with serge creating more chances (3) and completing more crosses (4/5) than any other player the Spaniard edges it.
Brentford Player Ratiings – Top 5 Players Overall (after Gameweek 29)
All of which means that Ivan Toney maintains his lead but Ethan Pinnock is finally rewarded by breaking in to the top five places. Like Christian Norgaard in second, a player who very much gets on with things in almost quiet expectation. Bryan Mbeumo and Rico Henry continue jostling for third and fourth place respectively.
1st – Ivan Toney
2nd – Christian Norgaard
3rd – Bryan Mbuemo
4th – Rico Henry
5th – Ethan Pinnock