Nick Bruzon picks out the best 5 Brentford players from their defeat to Leicester and updates his overall player ratings after Gameweek 30.
How do you pick anyone over anyone from out of that?
Brentford went down 2-1 at Leicester City on Sunday afternoon in a game of three outstanding strikes and not too much else.
For the hosts, first half wonder goals from Timothy Castagne and then James Maddison would ultimately prove too much. The opener, a curling swerving effort from outside the box found the opposite top corner. David Raya in nets left with no chance.
Then, who else but everybody’s favourite pantomime villain? If Maddison had failed to endear himself to the Brentford fans in the corresponding fixture at Lionel Road, here he was sliding even further down the TW8 Christmas Card list. A dead ball given away and he picked himself to fire the free-kick round, up and over the wall into the far corner from distance.
Again, Raya left with little or no chance of stopping that one.
Brentford with no first-half reply beyond a couple of half chances, created by Ivan Toney. The absence of Christian Eriksen (covid) meaning he once again found himself looking to play creator rather than executor.
To be fair, though, Leicester offered little themselves. Their own threat nullified in a cagey game.
That said, they didn’t need to offer much more. Scorelines speak volumes and their own pair of super-strikes had those particular noise levels cranked up to 11.
Yet with the full gamut of substitutes coming on for Brentford, it was the visitors providing the second-half oomph. The Leicester defence buckling slowly with only Kasper Schmeichel preserving their dignity. Bryan and Pontus both coming close, the later producing a stunning save from point blank, before Wissa eventually pulled one back on 85 minutes.
Like the two goals prior, it was another effort from distance. Another effort of the highest quality. Another game where late hope was dangled in front of us like a carrot. Tariqe Fosu (not a typo) coming on for a first Premier league appearance almost salvaged things late on but, in the end, time was against Thomas Frank. A bit more urgency a bit sooner and who knows what might have been?
Instead, nil return despite a plucky showing. That’s football.
Would Christian Eriksen have made a difference? Probably. It was the midfield where the ball seemed to spend most of the time. Mathias Jensen and Ivan Toney showing that Leicester could be opened up with the right delivery.
Close but no cigar. International break now upon us and the chance for aching limbs to recover. Any last covid niggles to work through the system. Then, it’s the trip to Stamford Bridge. Hey, we may even have some fans present…
Until then, time to look back at Leicester. Who was the star man? Did anyone fill Eriksen’s boots? Was their sufficient clear air to make one player stand out over the others. Moreso, when the defence did little wrong yet still came away empty handed.
Brentford Player Ratings from Gameweek 30 (vs Leicester)
1st (Star man) – Yoanne Wissa
Given we can’t nominate Kasper Schmeichel, then let’s give top marks to the one player able to beat him. It was a standout moment in a game where Brentford seemed to operate at a consistent 7 out of 10 level. You can’t knock Wissa’s enthusiasm and effort. His eventual goal was due reward.
2nd – Shandon Baptiste
Questions were asked before kick-off as to why he wasn’t picked to replace Christian Eriksen. To be fair, they were justified given the step up in approach when he came on for Vitaly. Worked well with Jensen to try and find a way through as Brentford rejigged and started to take the game to their opponents.
3rd – Mathias Jensen
And? The usual social media critics were putting the boot in before the game had even kicked off but I thought he did ok.
In a game where there was little for the defence to do (beyond pick the ball out of the net, twice) it was down to those charged with dictating the play to make an impact. God loves a trier, as the phrase goes. So does Thomas Frank it would seem.
Came closest to opening our account in the opening period with an effort hit first-time
4th – Pontus Jansson
Solid when called upon whilst found himself pressed in to attack on more than one occasion. Had he made less of a self-administered tangle with his own legs who knows what might have happened on one foray into the box. Then there was the aforementioned mano a mano (in footballing terms) with the giant Leicester custodian in which, sadly, he came off second best. Yet in a game of few chances, we remember them all.
5th – Rico Henry
Had he pushed higher, earlier, then who knows what might have been. Had he stayed on for longer, likewise. There were no chances being taken with his fitness (nobody in TW8 will forget last season) which was a real shame because Rico continued to look dangerous on the press.
With Gareth Southgate failing to look at Ivan Toney in his recent squad selection, perhaps this absence might turn out to be the bigger oversight.
Brentford Player Ratings – Top 5 Players Overall (after Gameweek 30)
All of which means no real change in our top five, with the exception of Rico moving up to joint third one point behind Christian Norgaard. Bring on international break and then Chelsea – assuming the gates to Stamford Bridge haven’t been padlocked by that stage…
1st – Ivan Toney
2nd – Christian Norgaard
T3rd – Rico Henry, Bryan Mbuemo
5th – Ethan Pinnock