Nick Bruzon picks out the best 5 Brentford players from their incredible win at Chelsea and updates his overall player ratings after Gameweek 31.
Where to even start after one of the most incredible displays by a Brentford side in living memory?
Chelsea, the Champions of Europe and (apparently) the World weren’t just beaten in their own back yard. They were thrashed. Obliterated. Humiliated. Outclassed. Their fans leaving the stadium in droves long before the final whistle blew after being humbled 4-1 by their West London neighbours. Second half goals from Vitaly Janelt (2), Christian Eriksen and Yoanne Wissa in front of the travelling support sending the Bees fans wild with joy.
Moreso as we were playing catch up after Antonio Rudiger had given Chelsea the lead with a long range effort that he had no right to even try and take on. It was a solitary moment of joy for Thomas Tuchel’s outfit. The ball moving in the air and into the back of the net past the outstretched fingertips of David Raya, via the inside of the post.
After a strong first half in which Brentford had not been afraid to take the game to their illustrious opponents, it was a punch to the stomach. Barely two minutes on the clock and all the hard work undone in a moment of brilliance.
Yet anyone thinking it was ‘game over’ couldn’t have been further from the truth. What followed was as incredible a ten minutes as has ever been seen.
First, Bryan Mbeumo with a perfect pass along the edge of the box to Vitaly Janelt who fired home for an almost immediate equaliser. If the noise and ‘limbs’ from the Bees faithful were next level, they went over the edge when Mbeumo set up Eriksen moments later. A lungbusting run up field and another perfectly weighted ball across the box to once again take the Chelsea defence out of the game. Delightful. The finish over Mendy – the man who had single-handedly kept us at bay in the first fixture at Lionel Road – exquisite. The reaction from the player and the supporter – just bonkers. 2-1 Brentford. Not a typo.
If it was beyond our wildest dreams, what came next was the stuff of legend.
Brentford not just hanging on but continuing to take the game to Chelsea. Vitaly Janelt the grateful beneficiary of Ivan Toney’s pass through three defenders to chip the ball home from the corner of the six-yard box. Again, Mendy powerless. Again, Brentford imperious. Again, the supporters going absolutely nuts behind the goal.
From 1-0 down in the second half to 3-1 up on the hour. Brentford looking totally comfortable. Any nerves as the hosts had a ‘goal’ (rightly) ruled out weren’t in evidence. Instead, with the home fans having already perfected their fire-drill routine, it was that man Wissa who rounded things off with his first touch. The trademark celebration matched by the most joyous of reactions from the 3,000 or so from TW8 lucky enough to have got tickets.
It was just amazing. There aren’t the words to truly describe how dominant Brentford were on Gameweek 31. How confident the play had been. How much of a difference Christian Eriksen makes.
That said, it was the consummate team performance. To a man, the Bees were on fire. Barely a foot wrong and absolutely dominant – whatever the post-game stats say. I’ve just never seen us this calm and this confident against opposition whom, understandably, one might have expected to win the game at a canter. They’re third in the Premier League and next up face Real Madrid for a place in Europe’s last four. Not tonight, Josephine. It was Brentford who did the business and in the most uplifting style. Truly, it was a privilege to have been there.
All of which presents a problem of the nicest sort. Just who on earth is Star Man? Let alone in the top five. For six players to miss out seems almost unfair but nobody said it was easy. So without further adore, we award it to….
Brentford Player Ratings from Gameweek 31 (vs Chelsea)
1st (Star Man) – Christian Eriksen
Scored two goals over the International break for Denmark and we hoped it was a sign he was now back to his very best. My word, what followed at Stamford Bridge on Gameweek 31 was next level. Laser guided passes delivered all over the pitch with aplomb. Corners into the box with deadly accuracy. He dominated the midfield and stopped Chelsea getting anywhere close to bringing the game our way.
The goal was the least he deserved and the finish was calm as you like. Coming so soon after our first, it was the most important of our four in terms of really giving the self-belief that something special was unfolding.
2nd – Vitaly Janelt
What can you say? His first was brilliant. His second precision placed elegance. Long before he’d opened his account, I’d already had him on my ‘card’ as a top five contender, such was the way he performed alongside Christian and, err, Christian.
Despite reverting to the five at the back we’d stepped away from, this was a Brentford side for whom the midfield were as committed to actually pushing up rather than just sitting back to absorb pressure. His celebrations with Norgaard for our third goal showing just how special an afternoon this was.
3rd – Bryan Mbeumo
I’m still amazed he didn’t join the scorers in this one. Very much a confidence player, as Bryan grew in stature so did Brentford. He was electric. Tearing forward to render the Chelsea defence meaningless and provide the assists for the first two aswell as freeing up Ivan Toney to turn provider for our third.
Our opening goal saw him take out two defenders with a rolled pass to Vitaly. The second, a delightful shimmy to allow the ball over him and away from Ziyech as he began that gargantuan charge forward on the counter-attack. Christian Eriksen in the box giving the little signal and Bryan playing it across into a vast chasm of open space to give Brentford the lead.
4th – Rico Henry
Defended like a Trojan. Broke forward with ease. In a game that Brentford ended up 4-1 victors (in case anybody had forgotten) it would be easy to overlook the action at the other end. It was one of those games where despite not troubling the scorers or creating an ‘assist’, he was effectively two players. Defender and attacker.
The relief at his signing a contract extension palpable and, like Christian Eriksen, felt like he was everywhere all afternoon. A top, top performance
5th – Mads Roerslev
For Ivan Toney to miss out after causing havoc in the Chelsea defence tells you everything about the confidence with which Mads played. Reintroduced to wing back action, it was like he’d never been away. More importantly, he showed that with the right mindset this formation can work wonders. Like Rico, he was everywhere – another two for the price of one performance.
Brentford Player Ratings – Top 5 Players Overall (after Gameweek 31)
All of which means that, with Gameweek 31 over, Ivan Toney stays out in front with Rico Henry, Bryan Mbeumo and Christian Norgaard going toe to toe for second place. Vitaly Janelt edges back into fifth, albeit alongside our unsung hero Ethan Pinnock.
1st – Ivan Toney
2nd – Bryan Mbuemo
3rd – Rico Henry
4th – Christian Norgaard
T5th – Vitaly Janelt, Ethan Pinnock
Now bring on West Ham…