Ivan Toney: what the Brentford striker brings to England and how he is similar to and different from Harry Kane -Dlight News

What does Ivan Toney bring to England and how different is he to Harry Kane?

On the eve of Brentford’s first Premier League game in August 2021, Thomas Frank made a promise about Ivan Toney.

“He has all the skills,” said the Brentford manager. “His link play, his finishing, time in the box and awareness, so I’m sure he will score goals in the Premier League.”

The goals have certainly been there. Twelve last season, 16 this term with a dozen games to spare.

But it’s the link play that has been a key factor in Brentford’s success this season. This led Jamie Carragher to describe him as “one of the best attacking players in the league”, “an all-around footballer” and “reminiscent of Harry Kane”.

That last point is especially poignant given the England team announcement on Thursday. Despite a betting scandal looming over the Brentford striker, Gareth Southgate has decided that Toney can not only fit into this England attacking department, but also bring something extra.

Frank sees it too. “In that area, Kane’s whole game is of such a high standard, but Ivan’s is too,” the Brentford manager said after their 2-0 win at Southampton on Wednesday night. So what makes Toney so similar to, yet different from, Kane?

Link game but excels in the air

The link play is the obvious aspect of the game shared by the two English forwards. One brief look at their stats and they are almost identical. Similar number of passes completed, ball touches, and pressing stats. Everything matches.


But where Toney excels over Kane is up in the air. The Brentford striker holds the fourth most successful aerial duel record of any Premier League player this season.

It’s the reason Bees goalie David Raya takes care of him so often. When the ball is at his feet, the Spanish goalkeeper has attempted to throw Toney out 329 times this season, according to Second Spectrum. The next listed player on Raya’s list is center-back Ben Mee, who has been given the ball 169 times.

This season, three of Toney’s four assists — which is twice as many as Kane’s — have come from aerial duels. The latter came late in Southampton, lobbing the ball to Yoane Wissa to end it one-on-one.

Josh Dasilva scored a similar goal from a Toney touch at West Ham in December, while Bryan Mbeumo would have scored an away goal at Arsenal via the same route had his goal not been ruled out for a controversial foul on Gabriel.

Simply put, Toney’s air presence hurts defenses. The Brentford striker won his 10 aerial duels against William Saliba in Brentford’s 1-1 draw at Arsenal.

“If you put Ivan Toney up against any defender in the league and you put 10 balls on him that fall with snow, he’s probably going to beat them,” Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said a few days after the match.

Manchester United’s defense was another casualty of Toney’s aerial presence in a 4-0 thrashing of Brentford in August. Toney won aerial duels against Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Lisandro Martinez during a first half in which Brentford ran amok.

Lisandro Martínez falls after clash with Iván Toney
Lisandro Martínez falls after clash with Iván Toney

Martinez, who Frank admitted he targeted in the game, was pulled at halftime, a decision Toney described as “a compliment to me.”

set piece skill

Set pieces are another area where Toney excels, and not just with his perfect penalties.

Dead ball situations are a key part of Brentford’s game – four of their last seven goals in all competitions have come from set pieces and Toney is the leader in the Bees group, with the striker having the highest goal ratio expected from the set. -pieces in the Premier League this season.


Toney is 10 goals from 10 shots from the Premier League spot for Brentford, and his unorthodox slow run contributes to his spotless record. But it’s really from the corners that Toney has proven useful.

Take Toney’s goal against Southampton as an example. Mbeumo’s corner found Christian Norgaard at the forward post, leaving Toney with a touch at the back.

It’s not the first time the Brentford striker has scored with that combination – the same three players combined in an identical routine against Tottenham on Boxing Day.

But what is striking is that Kane has also benefited from that routine. The Spurs striker has scored the exact same goal against Leeds, Newcastle and Chelsea this season, latching on to a quick move at the front post to tap into the far post.

Free throws are also an arena where Toney can contribute, which sets him apart from Kane. The Brentford striker scored from a direct free kick against Leeds earlier in the season and hit the crossbar in a similar effort against Fulham in Monday night football.

With set pieces having been a key part of Southgate’s success with England, Toney’s inclusion in the England squad adds another string to the team’s bow in this and many other departments.

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