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Brentford's Ivan Toney has adapted swiftly to life in the Premier League
Brentford's Ivan Toney has adapted swiftly to life in the Premier League

Liverpool have conceded just one Premier League goal this season — but Ivan Toney will put their rock-solid defence to the test. 

Jurgen Klopp’s men have won four out of five and it took a set-piece for Chelsea to breach their backline in last month's 1-1 draw. 

That record is unlikely to trouble in-form Toney, who has three goal involvements this term and put in a man-of-the-match performance against Wolves last weekend. 

As the Bees prepare to entertain Jurgen Klopp's men tonight, we turn the spotlight on how the 25-year-old frontman can get the better of Virgil van Dijk and his team-mates.

A slow climb

Toney went backwards in order to move forwards. 

The striker moved to Premier League side Newcastle from Northampton in 2015 but made just four appearances and spent the majority of his time out on loan with a variety of League One sides.

In 2018, Toney opted to leave St James’ Park, with Peterborough making the astute decision to bring him to London Road. 

After two fruitful years with the Posh, Brentford identified him as the man to replace Aston Villa-bound Ollie Watkins. 

It is an unconventional path to the top flight but it made Toney the player he is today — the goal machine is used to proving people wrong and continues to do so in England’s top tier.

Making his mark

Centre-back Kristoffer Ajer has played alongside the likes of Moussa Dembele, Odsonne Edouard and a certain Erling Haaland — but Brentford’s big summer signing was blown away by Toney’s performance against Wolves. 

He said: "Ivan's performance, for me being involved in the game, it's maybe the best I've ever seen from a striker.”

Ivan Toney has been a focal point for Brentford and is enjoying his role in a two-man attack
Ivan Toney has been a focal point for Brentford and is enjoying his role in a two-man attack

"He kept the ball up there, he won every single duel, he scored, had an assist, he was fantastic in his performance. You look at Bryan [Mbeumo] as well, the way they linked up. 

"We were defending sometimes with five at the back so you need someone to keep the ball further away. They work so hard together and helped keep the ball every single time so it makes it easier for us."

Premier League ready

The Premier League is one of the toughest leagues in the world. 

The speed at which the game is played — coupled with the level of physicality — means many players who have an abundance of other qualities struggle to adapt. 

Timo Werner, for example, referenced those stylistic differences following his move to Chelsea from RB Leipzig last summer.

Brentford star Ivan Toney enjoys dropping deep to link play as well as having an impact inside the box
Brentford star Ivan Toney enjoys dropping deep to link play as well as having an impact inside the box

But Brentford manager Thomas Frank has been impressed by the forward’s acclimation to the English top flight. 

Speaking after the 2-0 win at Wolves, he said: "What a player. What a mentality. What a presence. 

"They make the penalty on him and he executed it himself. It was also a fantastic assist and he was ever-present all over the pitch."

Penalty box prowler

Toney has not taken many shots in his five outings in the Premier League but a number of them have arrived in high-value areas.

Ivan Toney knows exactly where he needs to be in order to be effective for the Bees
Ivan Toney knows exactly where he needs to be in order to be effective for the Bees

They are the sort of positions you want your focal point — and the main goal threat in your team — to be getting into. 

If Toney continues to get the majority of his efforts in the space between the six-yard box and the penalty spot, you can guarantee plenty more goals will follow. 

His expected goals (xG) average of 0.37 per 90 minutes extrapolates to roughly 14 strikes across an entire 38-game campaign. 

That would not be a bad haul for a full debut season in the top flight and shows exactly why he is so highly rated.

Battling the best

Van Dijk is considered by many to be the best defender in the Premier League, maybe even Europe. 

He has not missed a step since returning from injury and has been a key component in Liverpool’s imperious defensive unit. 

But he will not have faced many strikers like Toney. 

The Brentford No17 drops deep, he pops up in the channels and he is a physical presence — ranking in the 92nd percentile for aerial duels won (five per 90) among forwards over the past year.

He has all of the tools to give Van Dijk a hard time and the potential to boss the Liverpool colossus in what could be a titanic clash at the Brentford Community Stadium.

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BrentfordPremier LeagueLiverpoolIvan Toney

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