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Football News: Brentford v Liverpool - A Quick Liverpool Perspective

Brentford v Liverpool - A Quick Liverpool Perspective

Brentford v Liverpool


That game could probably be called a Phyrrhic victory as a great result was slightly overshadowed by the team suffering three injuries to get it. The injuries to Nunez, Jota and Jones have come at a difficult time and to three players in good form, just as the season enters its final stretch. Whether it does cost the team in the next few weeks or not, right now the performance was very impressive. The intensity, the willingness to battle and chase, it was only bested by the noise from the away fans, who were excellent. It was a game where Liverpool gradually tightened their grip more and more as it wore on. It was just a gradual turning of the screw, more and more control of the ball and even the enforced substitutions failed to knock the team out of its rhythm. In fact the players who came on all played well and helped the team to the win.

The big issue for me is the openness at the back, there were a lot of risks taken and the two centre-backs were often left one-on-one at the back up against two attackers. When added to van Dijk's liking for backing away and refusing to engage, opened up opportunities for Brentford to get a run at the defence and cause a lot more problems than they should have. It then allowed them to get into dangerous areas where they could look to 'win' a free kick. One thing they do very well is set-pieces around the box, it should have been part of the gameplan to keep those to a minimum, but it matters little when you get the result anyway. And that is the thing, even when this team is not playing well, it is picking up the results, when it does play well, like in this game, it overwhelms the opposition, even if there are still weaknesses in the plan.


I personally find Brentford really tedious to watch now. When they initially came up they were a breath of fresh air, they went at teams and took the game to them and it was refreshing to see. As time has gone on, they have become more pragmatic and less about winning by taking the game to the opposition and more like watching the worst of an Allardyce team. They have become focused on physicality when they do not have the ball, with the intention always to leave a little on players. That would not bother me so much if they were not so intent on throwing themselves to the ground if anyone breaths on them. If they were just physical, I would enjoy that. Instead it is just one-sided, they give it out and then whine and cry if they get anything back. It is clear that their tactics have become solely based on set-pieces and getting them in dangerous areas. Like when Diaz went down claiming a penalty after a slight touch, which for me was never a penalty, it should be called out for what it is - cheating. That is what the Bees have based their game on, cheating to get set-pieces.

It has made them go from a plucky underdog that I wanted to do well, to being a team I would be glad to see the back of. The treatment of the returning Toney has compounded that for me. He has been lauded like a conquering hero coming back from an unjust lay off, rather than someone who let his team and teammates down by knowingly breaching the rules. He should be looking to make amends for his misdeeds, but he is clearly just looking to get a big money move away from the Bees. Hopefully the sale will give them the funds to put together a team that can do more than merely look to get set-pieces. When they did look to actually attack, they were managing to achieve overloads in wide areas and drag the centre-backs out of position to deal with it. With a bit more of that, they could have made the game much more difficult. They did play into Liverpool's hands with the back three set-up. It meant they either needed to keep the wing-backs back or take a risk one-on-one with Liverpool's front three. They ended up getting caught between both and caught out with the wing-backs trying to get forward.


Quick notes on the players:


Kelleher - a fairly easy ride for him, surprisingly, as they failed to really put him under pressure. It seems an odd thing to do, to not heavily press a back up keeper when he was on the ball, but Brentford did that. He was a little unlucky on their goal, having made a decent save initially.

Bradley - once again Bradley showed class and composure to match his ability. He is not playing like a youngster who has just broken into the team, he is playing like a seasoned, regular first-teamer.

Konate - the kind of game the big Frenchman loves, he likes the rough-and-tumble of a physical battle and it showed. He had a very good game and gave Toney little change.

van Dijk - a mixed game, he probably should have scored, he was caught by a simple ball in behind and was not aggressive enough dealing with their forwards. Instead he was back to dropping off and waiting for them to make a mistake. While that usually works, it is dangerous against a team that are looking to just get around the box and go down to get set-pieces. He really should have been looking to engage them higher up the pitch and kept them at arm's length.

Robertson - it is impressive how quickly he has slotted back in. He played well, particularly in the second half when he had more freedom to attack. I do wonder if it might well have worked in the club's favour having him come back fresh at this point of the season.

Endo - another good, solid game from Endo. He does lack the range of passing that Mac Allister has in that position, but he brings much more defensive solidity and gets stuck in. That physicality was very important against Brentford.

Jones - as the game went on and Liverpool took control, Jones was running the game. Unfortunately he had to go off injured.

Mac Allister - was playing a bit within Jones' shadow early on, often finding himself in a similar area of the pitch and with neither having the physicality to do anything different, it felt like it was one too many of the same type of midfielder. With Jones playing so well, he was struggling a bit to impose himself on the game. After Jones went off, he stepped up and became the player controlling the play instead. Having Gravenberch alongside him made him the senior player and the two had much clearer delineation of responsibilities, it seemed a much more natural partnership and Mac Allister played very well, even adding a goal.

Diaz - had a really good game, causing their defence and midfield so many problems as he moved around all over the place.

Nunez - scored a good goal and was always a handful to the defence. Losing him for any length of time could be a real problem for Liverpool as he is just starting to raise his game, so Klopp will have his fingers crossed that taking him off at half-time will have saved him from long-term damage.

Jota - was playing really well, setting up Nunez for his goal and generally harrying the Brentford players into mistakes. Such a shame that an accident like that caused an injury that forced him to come off and looks to be a pretty bad injury. It was among the best performances he had put in while playing for Liverpool.

Gravenberch - replaced the injured Jones in the 34th minute. Normally the worry with Gravenberch is his tendency to bottle the physical aspects of the game, that did make me nervous when he came on, but he showed a totally different side to himself in this match. He was being much more physical and getting stuck in, which contributed to a very good performance. It allowed him to not just contribute with a few nice runs, but to also break up play and win the ball back.

Salah - came on in the 44th minute to take the place of Jota who picked up a knee injury. His return could not have come at a better time and he was back like he had never been away. A nice ball for Mac Allister to score and later scored himself after some good play.

Gakpo - was brought on at half-time in the place of Nunez, who was also injured. A much better performance from Gakpo. Not just scoring, but also being much more prominent in the play, working hard and getting involved.

Elliott - took the place of Mac Allister in the 83rd minute. Always provides a burst of energy when he arrives and it lifted the team just as tiredness could have begun to set it.

Gomez - was also brought on in the 83rd minute, in order to replace Bradley. Did not really have a lot to do.

Written by Tris Burke February 19 2024 03:04:36


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