It’s matchday 22; Liverpool, in their bid of fighting for the title, take on a spirited Brentford side.
Although this fixture seems to be a walk in the park for the Reds. You just cannot take anything away from this Brentford side. They shared the spoils in a classic 6 goal thriller, when they faced each other earlier in September. I am sure The Reds wouldn’t want another night like that at Anfield.
The second half of the Premier League season has started. But it doesn’t seem like Brentford has been promoted in the top division for the first time, since the 1946/47 Season. The Bees have had their own share of joys and sorrows throughout the course of the season. But Thomas Frank’s side has not been able to live up to the same rhythm.
While Brentford are without a win in their last 8 games. Liverpool, themselves are going through a lackluster run of form. Liverpool had to settle for a draw against the 10 men gunners in the semi final of the Carabao Cup. Prior to that, draws against Spurs and Chelsea were flanked from the either side, before a taste of defeat at the hands of Leicester. The Reds need to pull out of this rut.
WHEN & WHERE?
Venue: Anfield Stadium
Date: Sunday, 16th January 2022
Kick off: 2:00 pm GMT
Unfortunately for the Liverpudlians, they are bound to miss Salah and Mane every single time their team is going to play. For Klopp, the misery deepens with the absence of some more key players due to injury and illness, as well.
In the latest developments, Origi and Thiago still remain in the list of the absentees. With a knee and hip injury, respectively. Although, Klopp reported knocks for Van Dijk and Robertson after their EFL Cup clash against Arsenal. He also sounded relieved by the fact that both of these players were given clearance to play by the medical team, ahead of their clash against Brentford on Sunday. Their won’t be any major changes from the Liverpool squad that faced Arsenal in the EFL Cup on Thursday, according to their manager.
Meanwhile, a sigh of relief for Thomas Frank in the away dugout as Sergio Canos and Rico Henry returned in the squad after their injuries. The ex-Liverpool man has been key to Frank’s game plan. Brentford do not have to worry about any major absentees no longer, apart from their key midfielder Oyneka. The player is currently with the Nigerian squad, in the African Cup of Nations.
Where the Bees could sting
Throughout the season, Thomas Frank’s side have looked menacing on counters and set-pieces, releasing their strikers through aerial balls on will. A trait many championship managers resort to, with all due respect to them. But why not, when it is working, right?!
On the contrary Liverpool, as we all know, have been playing a very high line of defense under Jurgen Klopp. This worked when it does. But when it does not, then they are left in the dust. The same way The Bees hurt them when they faced the Klopp’s side back in September. The spaces left in the back by the Liverpool defense were so well used by the Brentford players. Releasing Ivan Toney, their key player up front, with good looping balls over the Reds’ defense.
As a result, Brentford scored all 3 of their goals through good aerial deliveries. Causing troubles, from where they can. As far as Sunday’s return fixture is concerned, Liverpool can still be troubled by this strategy. Given the fact that Brentford do not leave too much spaces, in the back, of their own.
Hitting the opposition from the flanks
Unconventionally, Liverpool have relied too much on their full-backs. The likes of Alexander-Arnold and Robertson, just won’t stop putting the crosses in the box unless a teammate gets on the end of it. This style of play by the Reds’ German gaffer, has been criticized by many pundits this season. Questioning the lack of creativity in the team. And rightly so! They have had to pay for the lack of creativity in the midfield in more testing games. A defeat at the hands of Leicester, which was a hard one to take given the run of form of both the teams leading up to the fixture.
However, on the other hand, the same strategy (if put rightly) has been hurting big teams too. Who could have forgotten the 5-0 score line against Manchester United, at Old Trafford. Trent and Robbo can deliver a peach of a service for their attackers. Pealing through the defenses. They just have to be consistent on Sunday and it should be all in control of the home side.
The Portuguese goal machine has already outscored his tally of the highest number of goals in a season, 10. Only half of the season have gone by and there is still no sign of stopping Diogo Jota. It will be interesting to see how the 25 year old Portuguese striker take charge, up ahead. Given the absence of the two stars, Salah and Mane.
The new favorite of the revered Kop, Diogoal Jota has been a striker to watch in the Premier League this season. The movement off the ball. The runs in-between the defenses to open up the play for his attacking allies. Solid positioning. Winning aerial duals. Dribbling past the defenses. All of these attributes just highlight his all-round ability as a striker. Bought by the Reds to cover for Firmino, Jota is now setting standards of his own. He is surely the one to look out of for, as Klopp will be hoping a goal or 2 from his in-form Striker on Sunday.
Ivan Toney (Brentford):
Likewise, one of the few overlooked strikers in the Premier League, Ivan Toney is a beast up front. Leading his side to the Premier League with a scintillating run of goal scoring form. It is very much clear, that Toney has had difficulty settling to the newer environments. From how it was to what is now- Toney has rightly come into the limelight.
In spite of all the criticism, you still cannot ignore him when it comes to causing the defenders some problems. A leader up front for his side. Hitting the defenses equally on the counters, with his pace. Ivan Toney is not the one you want to face when he is on his day. Toney was the main cause trouble for the Liverpool defense, when the two sides faced each other in September. Running in behind the defense, winning the aerial duals with the show of strength. Thomas Frank will be hopeful for his striker to find his scoring touch against the Reds on Sunday, or there are danger flags looming all over their head.
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Jota, Firmino, Jones.
Brentford: Fernandez; Ajer, Jansson, Pinnock; Roerslev, Jensen, Noorgard, Janelt, Canos; Mbeumo, Toney