Nick Bruzon muses over the best 5 Bees from their Gameweek 32 win over West Ham and we update his Top 5 Brentford players over the course of the season accordingly.
A first Premier League double. A point off tenth place. Another win for the Bees.
Sunday afternoon saw Brentford do it again. With Lionel Road looking respondent in the early spring sunshine, the positivity engendered from the 4-1 trouncing of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last weekend continued by the bucketful.
A 2-0 defeat of West Ham on Gameweek 32 in which the visitors weren’t so much at the races as still in the hotel watching the weekend’s Grand National, the very least Thomas Frank’s side deserved. If anything, it might have been more with Bryan coming close on several occasions which, in retrospect, he might look back on a few of those with a tinge of regret.
Yet, to take anything but 10/10 from this one would be churlish. West Ham are fighting for a Champions League spot but didn’t even get a look in.
Zanka (in for the unwell Pontus) and Ethan as solid as they come the few times they were called in to action. Raya left with little to do beyond add another clean sheet to his tally. Rico Henry and Kris Ajer making up the return of a back four. Mads Roerslev could be forgiven for feeling hard done by in having to give way at right back after his own ‘top five’ performance at The Bridge but Thomas Frank has, again, caught everyone off guard with a little tweak that worked wonders.
The goals were both beautifully worked. Having snuffed out our opponents in the first half and forced them into an early reshuffle when Kurt Zouma limped off (one has to wonder if that was due to physical pain or something else, such was the reception he received from the home support with every touch being greeted by a catcall of booing) the Bees upped the pace in the second period. Within moments of the restart it was 1-0. Ivan Toney opening up the defence with a delightful through ball and Bryan banged it home, first time, for the opener. It was a precision strike but the assist was worthy of so much more. Magnificent from Toney.
The favour then returned for our second. This time, Bryan getting on the end of a cross from Rico and plopping it right on to Ivan’s head. The striker had made the space and there was no mistake from just yards out with the net crying out to be rippled. The top flight’s fifth highest goal scorer duly obliged and the crowd went nuts.
From that point on, the game was dead and buried. Not even the arrival of former favourite Said Benrahma able to make a difference for West Ham. He was mugged off by Christian Eriksen within moments of coming on and his shot deep into time added-on was far too little, far too late for our guests.
In the end it was as comfortable as it gets. Brentford in control from the off and turning the screw. The midfield dominant. The defence on their game when those rare moments came. The attacking trio moving it around with aplomb. The Bees now 13th and looking upwards with Saturday’s trip to relegation threatened Watford next on the cards.
As ever, though, the question remains as to who keeps their place? Who comes out of this one with the plaudits? Who were our top five from Gameweek 32 and who earns the crown of ‘Star man’? Decisions, decisions, decisions….
Brentford Player Ratings from Gameweek 32 (vs West Ham)
1st (Star Man) – Ivan Toney
Cripes, this one was as tight as it comes from 1 to 5.
In the end, though, it was Ivan who produced the pivotal moments and so wears the crown. Goals win games and when the chances came, he took them.
The assist for Bryan’s opener much akin to the one at Chelsea to open things up for Vitaly as he guided it through the defence with all the precision of an emboiderer threading a needle. His own goal made to look ridiculously easy, such was the position created and the confidence oozing from every pore as he steered the ball goalwards. Made a number of crucial challenges in the centre, too, with one first half interception and steer back to Raya coming out of nowhere when it seemed the Hammers might be in with a rare sniff.
2nd – Bryan Mbeumo
This was brilliant Bryan. The one who scores goals. Who runs at electric pace. Who makes football look so much fun.
His partnership with Ivan getting stronger and stronger as the season progresses and Sunday was no exception. The pair of them feeding off each other and, being honest, he’ll probably feel as though there could have been more scored than just than the the opener. It doesn’t matter though. As much as anything else, Bryan taking the ball to our opponents meant it was down their end more often than not. Never stopped running and the goal was the very least he deserved.
3rd – Christian Eriksen
Is there anything not to love about Christian? Brentford have won every game he started and this was just another demonstration why he is so highly coveted.
After a while one starts to run out of superlatives. Struggles to find new ways to describe his accuracy of passing. His ability with the ball close to feet. The comfort and the ease with which he confronts the opposition. Either on the front or back foot. Football is a team game but there are certain players who can take you to the next level. Once again, Christian demonstrated why he is that man.
4th – Rico Henry
Classic Rico. If we run out of ways to describe what Eriksen has done then feel for the hack who has to describe Rico in action. He’s just so consistently good. So wonderfully repetitive.
Despite operating in a more traditional four man defence (in which he was a robust and skillful as ever), it is ability to break forward with such velocity that marks his real danger.
Fantasy Football ‘stats’ will show Bryan as the man who served it up for Ivan to double the lead, but have no doubt that it was Rico’s run, interplay with Wissa and cross that was the key contribution to our second goal. Thank goodness he has signed a contract extension
5th – Christian Norgaard
One has to feel for Ajer, Pinnock and Zanka. On any other day they’d have been here. Christian Norgaard, however, has done his thing once more.
The ball rarely getting close to the defensive third, such was the performance alongside his countryman in the centre of the park. Broke up the West Ham party with ease and earned extra adulation from the crowd for his attention to Zouma. His delivery and press continual on an afternoon that was made to look way more comfortable than it had any right to be. Calm and confident.
Brentford Player Ratings – Top 5 Overall (after Gameweek 32)
All of which means that Ivan Toney stretches his lead at the top, with Bryan Mbeumo, Rico Henry and Christian Norgaard close to each other in the battle for the top three. Vitaly stays fifth but the speed with which Christian Eriksen is making ground could see a very late entrant to this battle if he continues at this pace for the remainder of the season.
1st – Ivan Toney
2nd – Bryan Mbuemo
3rd – Rico Henry
4th – Christian Norgaard
5th – Ethan Pinnock, Vitaly Janelt