Verdict: Mohamed Salah to score
Best odds: 1
Premier League newcomers Brentford are set to take on Liverpool, widely perceived as title contenders, at the Brentford Community Stadium on Saturday, in a game which will be a part of the sixth round of the 2021-22 season in the English top flight.
Having finished third in the Championship last term, Thomas Frank’s team won the promotion play-offs to secure a place in the Premier League. They started the new campaign in an impressive fashion, thoroughly deserving their 2-0 home win over Arsenal in the opening round. Then they played a goalless draw away to Crystal Palace and 1-1 away to Aston Villa, before Brighton surprised them at their own ground by 0-1. They bounced back away to Wolverhampton Wanderers, as a penalty from Ivan Toney and a goal from Bryan Mbeumo brought a 0-2 triumph at the Molineux, despite midfielder Shandon Baptiste picking up a red card in the 64th minute.
These results have the Bees in ninth place with eight points at the moment, the same as West Ham in eighth and one less than Tottenham Hotspur in seventh.
Brentford’s Carabao Cup campaign has been rather successful so far, even though they’ve only faced lower-level opposition. In the second round, they dispatched Forest Green by 3-1, and earlier this week, they thumped Oldham Athletic by 7-0 in the third. Next up, it’s Stoke City in the round of 16 on October 27th.
Frank seems to have built a compact team, prepared to work hard and capable of hitting hard, even against a top rival. That theory should be put to the test in this match. Speaking to the press, he expressed huge admiration for Liverpool and their manager, Jurgen Klopp.
Defender Mads Sorensen and midfielder Josh Dasilva are out of contention through injury, as is Baptiste through suspension.
Frank rotated his squad significantly for the Oldham match, but in the absence of Baptiste and Dasilva, Saman Ghoddos could keep the spot in the middle of the park. Frank Onyeka is an option too. Former Liverpool youngster Sergi Canos should be back on the right flank, with the duo of Toney and Mbeumo leading the line upfront.
It’s not really a surprise that Liverpool are enjoying a fine start to the season. After all, they were the 2019-20 Premier League champions, and after the following campaign saw their ranks severely depleted through injuries, they have their key players, most notably centre-backs, back fit and firing. The Reds have played seven matches so far, winning six and drawing one.
It started with a comprehensive 0-3 triumph away to Norwich City, followed by a 2-0 win at home over Burnley. Then they played a 1-1 draw at home against Chelsea, beat Leeds United away by 0-3, AC Milan in the Champions League at home by 3-2, Crystal Palace at home by 3-0, and Norwich away again in the Carabao Cup by 0-3.
Liverpool are sharing the league top spot with Chelsea at the moment, with both sides on 13 points, 12 goals scored and just one conceded (to each other). Manchester United are third with 13 points as well, while Brighton are surprisingly fourth with 12. Manchester City and Everton are fifth and sixth respectively, both on 10.
Klopp also spoke highly of Frank ahead of the match, comparing their achievements with his own at Mainz 05 and saying that Frank has shown that creating something special with very little money to spend in the transfer market is still possible today.
Klopp will be without Naby Keita and Thiago Alcantara in the middle of the park. Their injuries don’t appear too serious, but neither has recovered in time for the Brentford trip. Young Harvey Elliott enjoyed a great start to the season, but following a reckless tackle from Leeds defender Pascal Struijk, he has been ruled out for several months. Fabinho and captain Jordan Henderson seem nailed on to start under the circumstances. James Milner will likely join them in the middle of the park, though Klopp could opt for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as well.
Andy Robertson started the cup clash against Norwich on the bench and came on towards the end, and he should be back in the side for this one along with Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip, who were rested, as well as Trent Alexander-Arnold, who has recovered from a bout of illness which kept him out of the last two matches. Upfront, Klopp is likely to go with Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota. Roberto Firmino is likely to be available too after a hamstring problem, but not very likely to be risked from the start. Fine performances and goals at Carrow Road in midweek aren’t likely to prove enough for either Takumi Minamino or Divock Origi to be given a place in the lineup.
Brentford will certainly give their best against the six-time European champions, but in all fairness, they lack the quality required to hold off Liverpool in full swing when they come to take the points. Mohamed Salah, with four league goals in five matches so far, will likely hit the back of the net again.
Verdict: Mohamed Salah to score
Best odds: 1
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