Sunday, January 29, 2023

Prediction: Brentford vs Liverpool

Veselin Trajkovic in Free Soccer Predictions 1 Jan 2023

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Verdict: Both teams to score

Best odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: Unibet

The Premier League will take a little break soon, but there are still a couple of matches to be played before that. One of them is taking place at the Brentford Community Stadium on Monday, when Brentford welcome Liverpool.

Brentford

Brentford had a fine first season in the Premier League after their promotion last year, and they’re on course to do it again and establish themselves as a stable club in the English top flight. Manager Thomas Frank, whom the media occasionally link with vacant positions at bigger clubs, has obviously done a great job.

The Bees are currently 10th in the Premier League table, with 23 points from 17 matches, sitting closer to the places leading into European competitions at the end of the season than to the relegation zone.

Brentford’s last-six run in all competitions consists of a 1-1 home draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers, a 2-2 draw away to Nottingham Forest, a 1-1 away draw and a shootout loss away to Gillignham in the Carabao Cup, a shocking 1-2 victory away to Manchester City, a 2-2 draw at home against Tottenham Hotspur, and a 0-2 victory over West Ham on Friday. During the World Cup, they played friendlies against Bordeaux (lost 1-2), Celta Vigo (lost 1-3) and Wolfsburg (2-2).

Meanwhile, the club and Frank have one big problem potentially looming over their heads. Striker Ivan Toney, their arguably biggest star and best player, has been charged with a total of 262 breaches of FA betting rules and is facing a the possibility of a lengthy ban, should he be found guilty of the alleged offences. The club are reportedly preparing to scour the January transfer market for a potential replacement, just in case.

Team News

But even without that particular problem hanging over his head, Toney is a huge doubt for this match after landing awkwardly and picking up what looked like a knee injury against West Ham. In case he isn’t able to play on Monday, Yoane Wissa is the first candidate to take his place in the starting XI and team up with Bryan Mbeumo upfront.

Goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha, on his way back from an ankle injury, and midfielder Frank Onyeka, with a slight hamstring problem, are also doubts, but neither would be likely to start against Liverpool anyway.

David Raya will be between the posts, with Ben Mee, Ethan Pinnock and Zanka likely to form the back line of three. Josh Dasilva, Christian Norgaard and Mathias Jensen will likely continue in the middle of the park, flanked by Rico Henry and Mads Rasmussen, though former Liverpool prospect Sergi Canos will also be hoping to play in a wide role.

Liverpool

Liverpool appear to be getting back to their feet after a very slow start to the season. They were the only team challenging Manchester City for the Premier League title over the last couple of years, but this time around, that ship has already sailed and it’s Arsenal who are currently leading the way, quite comfortably, as it happens. For the Merseysiders, a finish inside the top four is all they can hope for, but the string of recent results in the league will have given them proper hope on that front.

Liverpool’s last-six run includes four wins in the last four Premier League matches – a 1-2 triumph away to Tottenham Hotspur, a 3-1 home win over Southampton, a 1-3 win away to Aston Villa, and an extremely lucky 2-1 win at home over Leicester City in which two own-goals from Leicester defender Wout Faes helped them overturn an early deficit inflicted by Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall. Within that run, Manchester City knocked Liverpool out of the Carabao Cup by beating them 3-2 at the Etihad, after the Merseysiders got past Derby County in that competition on penalties, following a goalless draw.

As things stand at the moment, Liverpool are sixth in the Premier League table, with 28 points from 16 matches, four less than Manchester United in fourth and two less than Spurs in fifth, though the North Londoners play their match against Aston Villa on Sunday.

Team News

Klopp won’t be able to call upon forwards Luis Diaz (knee) and Diogo Jota (calf). Both have been absent for a while. Midfielders Arthur Melo (thigh) and Curtis Jones (calf) are also out.

Forward Roberto Firmino could return to contention following a calf injury, and the same goes for midfielders James Milner (thigh) and Fabinho, who missed the Leicester match through personal reasons. Midfielder Harvey Elliott (knee) and left-back Andy Robertson (hip) face late fitness tests after picking up knocks in that game.

It’s probably fair to expect Kostas Tsimikas on the left defensive flank with no real need to risk Robertson at this point. Virgil van Dijk is likely to command the back line again, though it remains to be seen if Joel Matip keeps his place ahead of World Cup finalist Ibrahima Konate. A fine performance against the Foxes should keep Trent Alexander-Arnold in the team.

Fabinho, if deemed ready, will take his place at the base of midfield; his absence is usually felt keenly by this Liverpool team. Thiago Alcantara and Jordan Henderson should be the two players by his side, given the current lack of options. Upfront, It’s very likely we’ll see Darwin Nunez flanked by Mohamed Salah and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain again, with Firmino left on the bench. Newcomer Cody Gakpo is also likely to be on the bench, should his paperwork come through in time.

Conclusion

Liverpool are likely to continue their winning streak against Brentford, though the last couple of games highlighted an urgent need to improve their defending. If that doesn’t happen, it’s hard to imagine Alisson Becker keeping a clean sheet, even without Toney in Brentford’s front line.

Therefore, a Liverpool victory with goals at both ends is the likeliest outcome for this match.

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: Unibet

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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