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Talking Tactics

Promoted stars: Toney the full package

Adrian Clarke 13 Jun 2021
Ivan Toney, Brentford

Adrian Clarke says Brentford striker's all-round game will pose problems in the top flight

Adrian Clarke picks out a player from each of the three promoted clubs who could play a key role in the 2021/22 Premier League.

Ivan Toney (BRE)

Breaking the Championship record for the most goals scored in a season, Ivan Toney is Brentford's shining light as they head into a debut Premier League campaign.  

The 25-year-old, signed from Peterborough United last summer as a replacement for Ollie Watkins, tore the division apart, netting 33 times in 47 starts. 

Poacher supreme 

Nine of Toney's 23 non-penalty goals were scored from inside the opposition six-yard box.  

He has good anticipation and naturally takes up excellent positions inside the danger zone.  

The Brentford star is also a fiercely determined individual who regularly uses his strength to overpower defenders, or to help him get across his markers when a ball flies across the face of goal.  

Toney goals

Four of Toney's seven headed goals last season arrived at set-piece situations.  

Top-flight defenders will need to watch out for the striker beating them to the flight of the ball at the near post, which is a particularly fruitful domain from corners and wide free-kicks.  

Toney's finishes in 2020/21
Goals breakdown Total
0-6 yards 9
6-18 yards 14
18+ yards 0
Penalties 11
Right foot 23
Left foot 3
Headers 7

Toney's impact is not just restricted to headers or tap-ins from close range.  

He is a match-winner who can run beyond the last defender to score in 1v1s and is also a wonderful volleyer of the ball.  

A number of his strikes were from clinical half or full volleys last season.  

More than just a scorer 

Toney's reputation as a predatory finisher is well-earned but he offers Thomas Frank's side so much more than goals.  

He enjoys testing central defenders physically, backing into them to hold the ball up or to flick longer passes on to a team-mate.  

The striker can also drop into pockets to receive passes on the half-turn.  

These target-man qualities allow Brentford to move the ball forward quicker and in a more direct manner when it suits them.  

Assist king 

Brentford's leading marksman is also unselfish, and has provided a stream of quality assists during his first season at the club.  

2020/21 Championship stats
Championship assists Total goal involvements (Goals and assists)
Emiliano Buendia 16 Ivan Toney 43
Michael Olise 12 Adam Armstrong 33
Harvey Elliott 11 Emiliano Buendia 31
Harry Wilson 11 Teemu Pukki 30
Ivan Toney 10 Lucas Joao 26
Bryan Mbeumo 10 Arnaut Danjuma 24

Toney's 10 assists were delivered in a variety of ways; from through-balls, crosses, link play and, on more than one occasion, from clever tee-ups at the far post.  

If the striker is unable to shoot when he peels off towards the back stick he is adept at cushioning passes for an onrushing team-mate.  

The full package 

The centre-forward was directly involved in more than half of Brentford's goals last season, making him by some distance their most important player.  

In general play and inside the box his influence was very consistent.

If his game continues to develop at this pace Toney will prove a serious handful for Premier League defenders in 2021/22.  

Also in this series

Part 1: Promoted clubs: Norwich return with improved defence
Part 2: Promoted stars: Pukki must be clinical for Norwich
Part 3: Promoted clubs: Watford back with new-look attack
Part 4: Promoted stars: Sierralta can excel for Watford
Part 5: Promoted clubs: Brentford have the balance to thrive

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