Verdict: Total goals under 2.5
Best odds: 5/4
Liverpool are set to welcome Brentford to Anfield on Sunday afternoon in what will be the 21st Premier League match of the season for both teams. It’s bound to an exciting contest, despite the obvious difference in the quality and the standings between the two teams, given how in panned out when Liverpool went to the Brentford Community Stadium earlier this season and failed to win in a six-goal thriller.
Liverpool’s Champions League campaign has so far gone as well as possible, with six wins out of six matches in the group stage, and now they are to face Inter Milan in the round of 16. But in the meantime, they must look to the other competitions they’re involved in, and where not everything has gone to plan.
In the Premier League, Jurgen Klopp’s team are currently in third place with 42 points, with no less than 11 separating them from Manchester City at the top, and one from second-place Chelsea, though they do have a game in hand on both rivals. City and Chelsea face each other at the Etihad on Saturday, and if the defending champions win, the race for the title is all but over, despite the fact that there is still a lot of matches to be played. If Chelsea win or the contest ends in a draw, there might be a chance for Liverpool still, given that they themselves are still to play City, but they must get on a winning streak as soon as possible.
At the moment, it doesn’t look good, especially with three of their key players away at the African Cup of Nations at the moment.
Having safely navigated through the third round of the FA Cup last week by beating Shrewsbury Town 4-1, Liverpool were held to a goalless draw at home against 10-men Arsenal in the first leg of their clash in the Carabao Cup semifinals. The rematch is to be played next week at the Emirates, and Chelsea are the team awaiting the winner in the final.
Liverpool’s last-six run consists of a 2-2 draw away to Tottenham Hotspur, a 3-3 draw against Leicester in the Carabao Cup quarterfinals followed by a win on penalties, a 1-0 defeat away to the same opponent in the league, a 2-2 draw away to title rivals Chelsea, the 4-1 win over Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup, and the 0-0 draw against Arsenal on Thursday.
Speaking at his press conference, Klopp confirmed that the same squad will be available (barring any positive COVID-19 tests) as against Arsenal.
As has been said, Liverpool have lost three important players to AFCON – forwards Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, as well as midfielder Naby Keita. Their attacking options are further depleted by Divock Origi being injured. Midfielders Thiago Alcantara and Harvey Elliott remain out as well.
One of the newcomers in the Premier League, Brentford started the campaign surprisingly well, showing high levels of organization on the pitch, a lot of spirit, direct play and a fabulous knack for pushing opponents to the limits. Liverpool were certainly not given an easy ride as their last encounter ended in a shocking 3-3 draw, and even those who did win against them had to work extremely hard to do it.
All in all, the Bees are currently in 13th place with 23 points, 12 more than Burnley topping the relegation zone, and it’ll have been extremely encouraging for Thomas Frank and his men that they’re out of the conversations about relegation already. It’s far more than can be said of fellow newcomers Watford and Norwich City.
However, Brentford’s recent form makes a rather disappointing read. In their last six matches, they suffered a 0-2 defeat at the hands of Chelsea in the quarterfinals of the Carabao Cup, 2-0 defeat away to Brighton in the Premier League, 0-1 at home against Manchester City, beat Aston Villa at home by 2-1, beat Port Vale in the FA Cup away by 1-4, and lost away to Southampton by the same scoreline. A trip to Anfield may not be what they need at the moment, but they’ll surely put in a strong effort.
Like Klopp, Frank has a number of players he cannot count on for this clash. Goalkeeper David Raya (knee), midfielder Josh Dasilva (hip), defenders Charlie Goode and Mathias Jorgensen (both hamstring), and defender Julian Jeanvier (knee) remain out.
Midfielder Frank Onyeka is currently in Cameroon, representing Nigeria at the AFCON.
Liverpool are strong favourites to win this match, even without Salah and Mane. However, there shouldn’t be too many goals this time around.
Verdict: Total goals under 2.5
Best odds: 5/4
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