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Football News: Brentford v Liverpool - A Liverpool Perspective

Brentford v Liverpool - A Liverpool Perspective
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Brentford v Liverpool A Liverpool Perspective

 

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A great game to watch as a neutral, as a Brentford fan I would guess it would be even greater to watch, but as a Liverpool fan it was a difficult watch. Some of the football on display was breathtaking, but the defending was amateur hour, reminiscent of the humiliation against Aston Villa last season. A centre-back pairing that have been playing well together so far this season, suddenly dissolved into a pair of players chasing their own tail with no idea what was going on around them.

The big difference between this and the Villa performance was that this was a one-off, Matip and van Dijk had been playing well together this season, whereas last season van Dijk seemed to have lost his focus in the games leading up to it. From a Liverpool perspective it might just be what was needed to wake up the defence and to make opponents have belief and come out and play. In particular, having opponents come out would benefit Liverpool massively over the course of the season.

Overall, Liverpool had more than enough chances to make it a comfortable win, regardless of how bad the defence was playing, and should have added a few more goals. The chances were not half-chances or difficult ones, there were a lot of excellent chances that would normally be taken.

 


Brentford

 

Brentford are a clever team, they are always happy to mix it up. They do prefer to play out from the back, but they do not get caught up in doing so when it is not working, unlike their opening day opposition Arsenal. If it is not working they are happy to go long to Toney and try and pick up the pieces from there. In a game like this, it can become a bit route one, but that is more to Liverpool's credit for not allowing them to play their football.

It is clear to see why they have been able to pick up such good results, as well as mixing up their play to suit the moment, they are also very good at mixing it. They are physical, leaving a foot in, similar to Burnley, dropping in late shoulder barges off the ball and other niggly fouls that they know referees tend to let go when it is one of the lesser teams. But the moment one of their players is brushed past, he will be on the floor screaming for the ref and usually gets the decision too.

In fact they are very good at the dark arts of the game, something that helped them unsettle Wolverhampton Wanderers the previous week. They push, pull, kick, get in the ear of the officials and wind up their opponents as much as possible, particularly Pontus Jansson. That is something that could backfire, if referees notice it, added to their constant time wasting, and they could pick up needless bookings and suspensions they can ill afford later in the season.

For now, it is working very well for them and they look to have more than enough about them to survive this season. They certainly have the confidence and the ability to back it up to deserve a second season. In fact I can only say well done Brentford, they played well, kept going even when they went behind and could easily have let their heads drop. They just stepped up and went again, though you could see they were tiring, which is something they will need to look at over the course of the season. Tired players make more mistakes and that could cost them loose goals at times they can ill afford them.

 


Liverpool

 

Klopp - I have to say that I think Klopp's recent chopping and changing of the backline was at least partly, in fact largely, the reason for the poor defensive performance. But, I also have to say I fully understand why he has done it and the potential benefits that should, all being well, accrue later in the season by protecting Matip and van Dijk from overwork early on. There was always a danger that something like this would happen, but it is better than one or both picking up silly niggles which could drag on throughout the season.

 

Alisson - the chopping and changing affects him as much as the players in front of him and Alisson was very uncertain at times. I would have liked to see him take more control over the situation though, he was in position to spot all the problems and direct the defence more.

 

Alexander-Arnold - he was very heavily targeted yesterday, but it was not, as the commentator was trying to suggest, down to Alexander-Arnold himself. It was down to the full-back area always being an open area with the system Liverpool play and the opposite flank had Canos, who drifts inside constantly, so cannot be used to exploit it. Then there is the benefit of keeping the play away from van Dijk, which is something every team tries to do as much as possible.

That is why Klopp changed the system to put Henderson and Fabinho in a deep-lying two, so that, between them and the centre-backs, they could protect the full-back areas much better. Questions need to be asked as to why Alexander-Arnold was still left being swamped by three players, while the midfield and Matip were marking no one.

Sadly his normally exceptional delivery has deserted him as well, so his forward play was not contributing enough to put Brentford on the back foot, as it normally would. The odd decision to go for in-swinging corners after being successful all season with out-swingers cannot have helped him produce either. I have to wonder why that was persisted with when both full-backs completely ballsed up every corner with poor delivery. Why not just go back to normal?

 

Matip - awful performance, full of indecision and ball watching. He has been exceptional so far this season, so he can be excused a one-off bad game, it is just a shame it coincided with van Dijk having an even worse game. As a pair they played like total strangers and were all over the place. Matip looked clumsy, slow and weak, constantly making the wrong decisions, but being in and out of the team the last few games cannot have helped him. Hopefully he will be back to the form he has shown the rest of the season sooner rather than later.

 

van Dijk - it was like van Dijk against Villa all over again. Far too often he was marking no one and being caught out. He did show the one-on-one defending he was famous for at one point though, which showed why Brentford were so keen to focus on the other side of the pitch. But van Dijk really needed to provide more cover or pull a midfielder over to help. Instead he was just throwing his arms up and complaining after each goal, rather than looking at what he could have done to fix the situation. Even the first he was just in no man's land marking no one in the centre of the goal, not affecting anything. But even greats are allowed off days and it did not cost us anything like as badly as it could have done.

 

Robertson - another poor performance from Robertson. One great run aside it was terrible. His challenges were tentative, weak even, and he looked like a player who was coming back from a long-term injury and trying to shake off rust. Sadly this season he has been playing like that every week, while Tsimikas has been a real threat. Is it time to give the Greek a run and let Robertson understudy him for a while? I hate to even suggest it, because Robertson's won my heart with his play since arriving, but Tsimikas is playing better than him this season.

 

Jones - the poor marking aside at the first goal, I thought Jones was Liverpool's best player right up until he was taken off. I understand Klopp's thinking, the tactical change needed and a desire to keep him fresh, but I think it was a mistake to take him off for the switch. He could easily have slotted in where Firmino played and both Mane and Jota were struggling at that point in the match, whereas he had just scored and was controlling the play well. After Jones went off, Liverpool looked much less able to control the play, allowing the Bees more possession and chances to attack.

 

Fabinho - not his best day at all, he did not do enough to cover the defence at all. On the ball he was not at his best either.

 

Henderson - one of Liverpool's better players, despite being nowhere near his best either. At least he put in a shift and some good work.

 

Mane - nothing was coming off for him, but he kept going and kept trying. He was not helped by Robertson struggling so badly and offering him little help down the flank.

 

Salah - once more very good and got his 100th goal in the Prem for Liverpool too, though he could and probably should have had more.

 

Jota - started brightly, faded after scoring but then came alive again after the substitution. A much improved performance over his last couple and a goal too. He actually showed he could pick a pass as well, so now he just needs to work on playing like that for 90 minutes, rather than in spells.

 

Firmino - replaced Jones just after he scored the third in the 68th minute. Showed some lovely touches and some Brazilian magic on the ball, but the change did not work and the team looked unbalanced with the four of them up top.

 

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Written by Tris Burke September 26 2021 16:44:57

 

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