The Bees took full advantage as the Reds struggled at the back – but it felt like more of a freak example rather than the beginning of a concerning trend for Jurgen Klopp’s side
You’d expect to win most away games if you score three goals, but some brittle defending saw Liverpool frustrated at the Brentford Community Stadium on Saturday evening.
But Thomas Frank’s side came away from the game with three goals and a point of their own. Credit must be given to the impressive Bees for yet another strong showing, but there’s little denying they were helped by some shoddy stuff at the back from their visitors.
The Liverpool defence had the rather unusual task in the modern game of dealing with a strike partnership which, along with the relentless runners from the midfield, caused havoc for much of the game.
AFP via Getty Images)
Jurgen Klopp admitted his side had struggled at the back, and heaped praise on the Londoners for their approach.
“They deserved their three goals for the way they played. We obviously couldn’t deal with the long balls today but we should have scored more goals,” he told Sky Sports.
“I don’t think you can control them much better, we created a lot of clear-cut chances but couldn’t deal with them defensively. These things happen. We should have scored more. If we win 3-2 or 4-3 we still have these struggles defensively. Toney and Mbeumo did really well.
“They deserved a point as well because they put up a proper fight. I respect that a lot. In the end there were situations we should do better – and then it could be a completely different game.”
While it was bewildering to see Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip – usually so dominant in the air – struggle in those situations against Brentford, this freak example needn’t be cause for too much concern.
It might well have been Van Dijk’s least dominant performance in a Liverpool shirt. The Dutchman usually sweeps up everything around him, and Matip’s aerial duel and heading stats are even better – something for which the Cameroonian doesn’t always get the credit he deserves.
But both were overpowered at times by Ivan Toney and his lightning-quick strike partner, Bryan Mbuemo. Neither got on the scoresheet, but both played a vital role in a hard-earned point for the Premier League new boys.
Action Images via Reuters)
Meanwhile Fabinho, who so often acts as a stern gatekeeper in front of the Liverpool defence, was too often beaten or completely bypassed.
Either way, the ineffectiveness of the Liverpool defence felt more like a frustrating one-off rather than something to lose sleep over.
The breathless, end-to-end action was more reminiscent of the heavy metal football from early in Klopp’s tenure at Anfield, rather than the more cautious approach he has often deployed since the start of the 2018/19 season.
The German and his side will be going all out to ensure it doesn’t become a trend as the Reds aim to compete across all fronts this season.
We’re not likely to see too many situations like the one for Brentford’s second goal, which was a comedy of errors from the Liverpool perspective, again.
First a failure from the midfield to track back left Trent Alexander-Arnold marking three attackers at the far post, and Pontus Jansson reacted to the loose ball first to crash a shot off the underside of the crossbar.
Then, despite being shorter than both van Dijk and Fabinho, Vitaly Janelt was allowed to leap and direct the ball towards the goal at the far post and force the ball over the line, despite Alexander-Arnold’s best efforts to clear.
Certainly, there was some shocking stuff from the Liverpool defence. But it felt much more like an anomaly than something we’ll see too much more of.
It has to be. They won’t reclaim their Premier League crown if it isn’t.