Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Liverpool 1-0 Brentford: Talking points as Reds keep top-four hopes alive

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In what was a very important match as they seek to qualify for the Champions League against the odds, Liverpool beat Brentford at Anfield on Saturday, courtesy of a 13th-minute goal by Mohamed Salah.

The game

Liverpool dominated the proceedings early on, keeping the ball for long spells in the attacking third of the pitch, and the goal came after Fabinho sent fine pass toward Virgil van Dijk who remained upfront after a previous corner. The Dutch defender headed across the six yards, finding Salah on the other side of the six yards, and the Egyptian managed to get the ball past David Raya, despite the best effort of the Brentford goalkeeper to keep it out.

The Merseysiders continued pretty much in the same way throughout the first half, and Darwin Nunez really should’ve doubled their lead in the 29th minute when he was picked out by Trent Alexander-Arnold with a typically accurate pass over the top, but he couldn’t control his first-time effort properly at little more than six yards from Raya’s goal, and it went over the bar.

Brentford mostly defender in that period, looking to hit on the counter will little success despite the quality Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo often show in those situations, but in the 38th minute, they had a good chance when they were awarded a free-kick just outside the box. Toney took it, narrowly missing the target with a low effort that went past the far post.

Two minutes later, the Bees finally broke through as Toney set Mbeumo up for a run on goal, and Mbeumo showed great pace to get away from Van Dijk and score, but the linesman’s flag went up and the VAR confirmed the call, though it turned out to have been much closer than it seemed initially.

The second half looked rather different, with Brentford pushing forward from the start. Just two minutes in, Frank Onyeka let one fly from outside box and it hit Van Dijk’s arm, but though there was a momentary call for a penalty, referee Anthony Taylor refused to give it as the Liverpool defender had that arm glued to the front side of his body. A few minutes later, Toney again sent Mbeumo running forward, but the cross that followed was an easy catch for Alisson Becker.

Left-back Rico Henry got on the end of a great pass from Aaron Hickey inside the box, but as he cut inside, his right-foot shot went way off target.

The next chance fell to Liverpool, as Salah slipped Diogo Jota through down the right and the Portugal international whipped it hard across the five yards, too hard for Cody Gakpo to divert into the net from maybe a yard. In the 77th minute, Raya was forced into a spectacular save by Alexander-Arnold, whose powerful drive from around 20 yards would’ve flown straight into the top corner.

Brentford made a desperate late push to find an equalizer, but Liverpool saw the game out successfully.

Klopp pleased

Speaking to the press after the match, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said he was happy with the way his team played the game, praising the team move that brought the crucial goal, as well as their ability to defend set-pieces which are always a strong weapon for Brentford.

“Brentford have a lot of qualities, but the set-pieces are super-special. I told the boys directly after the game, the focus and concentration we showed today against the best set-piece team I’ve ever played [was great].

“I am really happy, I have to say I am really happy with this hard-fought 1-0 win. The goal was great, the defending was great and in parts the football we played was really, really good.”

Frank disappointed

Meanwhile, Brentford boss Thomas Frank admitted he was disappointed with the outcome of the match, happy with the overall performance but lamenting the lack of a quality final pass.

“Today, I think we pressed really well throughout the game. The high pressure was really good in many situations, and we caused Liverpool a lot of problems.

“With a bit more quality we could have played players in for bigger chances.

“That’s the only thing that we probably missed, aside from the fantastic goal by Bryan [Mbeumo], which was just offside, was the final cross or the final slide ball.”

Table rankings

For Brentford, this match meant very little in terms of their position in the Premier League table. The competition for the European places is extremely fierce, and they never looked very likely to get properly involved in it. At the moment, the Bees are ninth with 50 points, four less than Aston Villa in eighth, and five less than Brighton and Hove Albion in seventh, who have no less than three games in hand on the teams around them.

But for Liverpool it’s a different story. This was their sixth Premier League victory on the bounce, and following Newcastle’s home loss to Arsenal and Manchester United’s defeat on the road to West Ham, their chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions League look much better than anyone would’ve believed possible a month ago.

Still sitting fifth, the Merseysiders have 62 points, just one less than United in fourth and three less than Newcastle in third. The biggest problem there, however, is the fact that both those rivals have a game in hand.


Veselin Trajkovic

Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.



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  • mofabi

    0 0

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