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Football News: Liverpool v Brentford - A Quick Liverpool Perspective

Liverpool v Brentford - A Quick Liverpool Perspective

Liverpool v Brentford


That was so much better! Against a team that regularly plays with high intensity, Liverpool not just matched them for it, they bettered them. And, make no mistake about it, Liverpool completely bettered Brentford in every aspect of that game. Once Liverpool opened the scoring, that game was very comfortable as Brentford never really looked like creating anything against a Liverpool defence that was fired up. Van Dijk is approaching his best once more and Matip, after a poor performance mid-week, got the bit between his teeth after a horrible decision by the referee to give a foul against him for, well I am not sure actually what it was given for. It was clear the Brentford player just smashed into him and the foul was the other way round, if there was any foul there, and then to compound it, Matip's incredulous reaction got him booked. All that did was fire up the amiable defender to play at his best level.

It was not just the defending that was good, and the goalkeeping (as always), but the general play was much better. The press was there to put them under pressure and the passing was much crisper, especially when put under pressure by Brentford's attempt to press mistakes at the back. There were risks taken, but they paid off and it put Brentford's players out of position to open up spaces to attack them. It was only really after Liverpool were three up and dropping off into cruise mode that Brentford were able to get at Liverpool. Up until that third goal went in, they were completely outmatched. That was the kind of performance Klopp's teams used to produce almost every week and it must be hoped that it will be the blueprint moving forward.


For all Thomas Frank's fingerwagging every time he disagreed with a decision, his team were completely outmatched and he did not seem to have any answer to that. It does get tedious watching Frank on the sidelines whining about every physical challenge on his players when his team are among the worst teams in the Premier League for skating on the edge of legality. They are the ones you know will be pulling, pushing, arriving late with challenges and anything else which will give them an edge over an opponent, regardless of whether it is within or without of the rules. Instead of moaning about the referee, who if anything favoured them as Tierney is wont to do with anyone who is playing against Liverpool, Frank should be thanking his lucky stars that a clear penalty was not given against his team for holding. Though this weekend has proven that holding and wrestling in the penalty box is only going to result in a penalty if you are Manchester City.

Brentford's problem is that they rely heavily on pace and Mbuemo cutting in from the right to attack defences. Against Liverpool that is playing into their hands and it left the Bees seeming a bit toothless. It does feel a bit like teams have worked out Brentford's approach now and that if they match them for fight, then they stand a good chance of beating them quite easily. Lacking the quality of Toney up front and any real creativity in the side, even their so-called creative midfielder is very poor at actually creating anything other than having a long throw, Brentford are a very average side. If their physicality is matched, then they have little left to offer against Premier League sides.


Quick notes on the players:


Alisson - his problem is that he makes even great saves look so easy that he does not get the recognition he deserves. Head and shoulders above the rest of the goalkeepers around right now and he was once again there when called upon. His ability with the ball at his feet is also excellent, even if it does make me at times catch my breath as an opponent chases him down.

Alexander-Arnold - I am still not convinced by the role he is playing as a normal way to play it, but there are games when it works and this was one of them. He has such great ability on the ball that getting him on it as much as possible is definitely a good thing.

Matip - after his performance in midweek, I have to admit that seeing his name on the teamsheet up against the pace of Brentford had me extremely worried. He was excellent, especially after the ridiculous booking when he was clearly the one fouled. Even his reaction after the decision went against him was performance art.

van Dijk - he is back to prime Virgil right now. I am not sure anything more need be said! He is looking almost unbeatable once more.

Tsimikas - much improved game from the Greek Scouser, even getting assists too. It does seem like his confidence is starting to come back, there were a couple of occasions he drove forward and attacked instead of just passing back or sideways. Hopefully his confidence continues to grow and we can see the lad that refused to give up the ball even when on the floor and surrounded by 3 opponents.

Endo - I am surprised at some of the reactions to his performance. I am not sure what people wanted from him, because to me he seemed to do his job well. Far from perfect, but he was good. It is was a good platform to build from and a much better level of performance than that which Mac Allister has been giving. Not that I blame Mac Allister for that, as he is simply not the right fit for the role. Endo was combative, took the fight to them and always looked to try and make a progressive pass when possible. The Brentford midfield knew they had been in a game after that, he made it a very hard day for them to get anything going and that is what he was there to do. As for the VAR red card check, I have no idea why it took so long. In my opinion it was definitely not a red, you could see he won the ball then pulled his knees up to try and avoid contact. But, more to the point, the referee was right on the spot and looking at it and also felt the same way, and it is only meant to be clear and obvious errors, so why did it take so long? It should have needed only a quick replay or two at most to realise that it was not a clear and obvious error so go with the on field official, unless the official had been looking the other way or on the other side of the pitch. When he is right there looking at it, then all they are doing is undermining his authority by spending so much time checking it over and over. Anyway, back to Endo's performance, and yes I know the stats are not good, he did not win many duels, but all he needed to do most of the time was hold up the attack to give time for the defence to recover their positions - particularly with the inverted full-back needing to get across the field. That is what he did, that is more important than stat padding. Sometimes it is not what your individual stats show that matter, it is what you do to help the team keep the most important stats in the team's favour - the goals scored and conceded.

Gakpo - decent game in midfield for the Dutchman. I think it helped a lot that he had Endo there behind him, as that extra defensive quality that the Japanese midfielder possesses over Mac Allister gave Gakpo a bit more freedom. Like Gravenberch in that position, he always wants to be going forward and that can leave Liverpool exposed when the move breaks down. This time out he was well covered for and so was able to just play his game.

Szoboszlai - his problem is that he has set the bar so high this season that it is going to be near impossible for him to reach that level consistently. He had a good game, but it was not quite at that bar.

Jota - I can only imagine the frustration he must cause to play alongside, because one minute he is tripping over his own feet, the next the ball is bouncing off him to an opponent and then he performs a piece of brilliance to put the ball in the back of the net. My opinion is that Jota's football brain is not the quickest, because he is often just a step off, particularly defensively at set pieces but also on the press. That is probably the cause of his inconsistency. If he ever figures out how to get more consistency in his game, then he will be as certain a starter as Salah. But, so long as he keeps scoring (and that stat about Liverpool not losing when he scores stays intact) then he will deserve his place.

Salah - even when not at his brilliant best he comes away with two goals. That is despite mostly playing wider this season than usual. You really cannot argue with a record like his, it stands comparison with the best the Premier League has ever seen.

Nunez - he makes such a huge difference to the team as he gives the opposition defence no rest. Two goals chalked off (rightly) for offside was bad luck for him but Nunez never lets it faze him and just keeps going and usually ends up having a hand in a Salah goal at some point.

Elliott - came on in place of Gakpo, in the 83rd minute. Always such a willing runner and worker, also looks to get out wide and create something whenever the opportunity arises. Hopefully he will learn to play as well when he starts matches in time.

Diaz - came on in the 83rd minute to take Jota's place. He was probably the last thing the Brentford defence wanted to see come on late in the game as their legs were tiring. It does feel like he is trying a bit too hard right now, maybe just a bit too fired up, but who can blame him?

Quansah - perhaps a surprise choice to replace Alexander-Arnold in the 90th minute. It was a bit like the old days, when the young centre-backs would come in at full-back to get minutes in the first team. He certainly has the ability on the ball to play the position, especially the inverted role where he can slot in so easily if the ball is lost.

McConnell - brought on for his Premier League debut in the 90th+4 minute in place of Szboszlai. Ran around a bit but struggled to get involved in the short time he was on the pitch. I have to say I would have liked to see him make a bit more effort defensively, as he was only on the pitch for a few minutes there was nothing to stop him sprinting back to help out when the ball was lost. Instead he did the standard loping run back while the Brentford attack left him in their wake. That would be a disappointment for me. If he is starting it is understandable, but when you come on for your debut as a sub in the last few minutes you should really be busting a gut to prove yourself. It is moments like that which can cement yourself in the mind of coaches and fans, even if they are actually meaningless in the dying seconds of a game that is already won. Yes, I am being harsh, but this is no ordinary team he is fighting to get a place in and you have to do the extraordinary if you want to make it.

Written by Tris Burke November 14 2023 12:52:32


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