Premier League: Manchester City vs Brentford full-time report


When Gareth Southgate named his England squad for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar on Thursday, he did so safely knowing that players not in the 26 had just 90 minutes for the pretend to be an idiot.

It took less than 16 for Ivan Toney. And if that wasn’t enough, he did it again a short time later to cap off a stunning 2-1 win for Brentford at Manchester City.

The striker was talked about in a lot of workplaces this week when the England selection was announced and Toney’s name was not on the list. That was certainly the case at Sportsman Central, and you can understand why.

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After scoring goals for fun in League One with Peterborough United and doing the same in the Championship to lead the Bees to promotion, the last season and a half has seen the 26-year-old become a regular goalscorer in the Premier League. and an iconic feature of the most watched football division in the world.

On Saturday he bounced back from the disappointment of missing out on the World Cup by winning Brentford’s game at Manchester City. Rising above Aymeric Laporte, he directed Ben Mee’s film to silence the Etihad Stadium. Then in the 98th minute, he brought in Josh DaSilva’s cross. As well as being his 18th Premier League goal in 2022 – only Harry Kane has more among England players – the winner was also his 10th goal in just 14 games in 2022-23, and when training at Hounslow over the next six weeks will wonder how his prolific form and talismanic performances have not been rewarded by the national team manager.

Callum Wilson has scored 67 Premier League goals in seven-and-a-half years, even taking into account his improved return of six from 10 this season. Is this form worthy of a World Cup? Does he provide the kind of focal point in offense that Toney has done on multiple levels against all types of teams over the past few years? Can he drop and link and stream the game like Toney does?

And did Southgate really need that extra flair player he’s unlikely to use rather than plump for an in-form Toney? England’s loss is Brentford’s gain. They may have a blank schedule now until they face Tottenham Hotspur in 45 days, but the Bees were easily the fresher of the two sides at Eastlands as players heading to Qatar didn’t seem to know what no fighting. And that’s how Brentford – with three World Cup starters to City’s 10 – managed to get the upper hand early on.

Longer term, they will also benefit from the break Toney is about to get. Not for him a few flights around the world and a potentially long stay in Qatar. Instead, he will be relieved during the World Cup period and should be as fresh as a daisy when the Premier League resumes on Boxing Day.

With Toney in the lead, Thomas Frank’s side continue to look like top flight stalwarts despite the recent rise of the lower leagues. Even after Phil Foden’s superb equalizer, City didn’t have enough to hold off Toney and Brentford. The champions expected more. People continue to underestimate Brentford and Gareth Southgate underestimated what Ivan Toney could have done for England in Qatar.

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