News of Ivan Toney’s unprecedented eight-month suspension for breaching the FA’s betting rules threatened to derail Brentford’s preparations for their London derby with Tottenham last week, but Bryan Mbeumo and Yoane Wissa proved more than capable of filling the Englishman’s boots.
A stunning Harry Kane strike may have broken the deadlock in North London, but Spurs’ wasted chances came back to bite them, as Mbeumo produced two fine finishes before teeing up Wissa to capitalise on Tottenham’s lackadaisical defending in a memorable triumph.
A top-half spot is now assured for the team who only achieved their first-ever Premier League promotion two years ago, and it is not impossible for Frank’s men to sneak into the Europa Conference League spot, sitting one point behind Tottenham and two adrift of Aston Villa – both of whom possess an inferior goal difference – heading into the final weekend.
Brentford must therefore stun Man City, while hoping that Spurs fail to beat Leeds United and Villa come up short against Brighton & Hove Albion, to book a European sojourn for next season, and following a minor Easter blip, the Bees have reverted to type with four wins from their last five matches.
The Bees have also only lost twice at home all season long, with Arsenal and Newcastle United the only teams to leave the Gtech Community Stadium with a maximum this term, and while
they may have gone down to Leeds in their final fixture last season, Brentford have followed a pattern of winning one then losing one in their last four final-day meetings – certainly a good omen before welcoming the Man City party bus.
A couple of days on from both managers waxing lyrical about the other, Pep Guardiola and Roberto De Zerbiprepared for a fascinating tactical affair at the Amex on Wednesday evening, and both sets of players could leave satisfied with a solitary point in the bag.
Phil Foden drew first blood for the Citizens, but jaws dropped when Julio Enciso picked out the top corner with an astonishing strike seven minutes before the break – surely a contender for Goal of the Season – as Man City’s jubilant title blowout perhaps took its toll
An upbeat Guardiola jokingly claimed that his side had drunk all the alcohol in Manchester in the wake of last weekend’s coronation, where Arsenal’s loss to Nottingham Forest confirmed their status as champions before their beating of Chelsea, but the mini bars will be off limits next month when the treble-chasing Citizens go for glory in the FA Cup and Champions League finals.
For the time being, Man City aspire to extend their unbeaten run in all tournaments to 25 matches at the Gtech Community Stadium, and the champions – who will play their 1,000th Premier League game this weekend – have also prevailed in each of their last six final-day encounters.
However, Brentford silenced the Etihad crowd with a 2-1 win over Man City back in November – which represents the Citizens’ sole home defeat in the Premier League this season – and with the visitors’ minds potentially preoccupied with the thoughts of June’s finals, the time is nigh for the Bees to try to complete a famous double.