Match Review: Liverpool 1–0 Brentford
Match Review: Liverpool 1–0 Brentford
Who would have ever believed in this supreme irony of ironies?
We received a helping hand from ex-Everton and ex-Man Utd manager David Moyes.
On Sunday, the previously known “The Chosen One” led his now team of West Ham to victory over his previous club.
He has also kept Liverpool’s flickering hopes of a Champions League qualification pretty much within the realm of mathematical possibility.
With 3 games to go, we are now one point from a top 4 finish although fourth-placed Man Utd have a game in hand.
They still need to fail to win at least 2 of their remaining 4 games to… well, you never know in the wacky world of the EPL.
Hard to believe after the 14 points chasm between the two clubs when Liverpool were themselves going through a particularly rough patch in January - February.
The Reds have now registered six consecutive wins to hoist themselves in such position.
Five of those wins were not that straightforward though and the latest one against Brentford required all the resolve and experience to deal with the West Londoners’ peculiar game plan.
Hardly by the books
Tactically speaking, playing against Brentford is quite tricky.
In terms of formation and keeping the shape of the team on the pitch, the West London club often throws the conventional playbook out of the window, at least from what we’ve seen when they play against Liverpool.
They readily lump players forward when they are on the ascendancy, but they also tend to park the bus while on the defensive.
Any team employing such tactics needs its players to run a lot from one end of the pitch to the other. An energy sapping endeavour which, if done week-in week-out, becomes physically exhaustive, especially towards the end of the season.
Still, Liverpool had to dig somewhat deep to cling to the narrowest margin of a one-goal lead for more than 75 minutes of a match which will be more remembered for the number of free-kicks and less for the fluidity of the action.
A solitary goal that unsurprisingly came from Mo Salah on the 13th minute.
The Egyptian King himself started the move, foraging on the right flank. Given the wall of defenders in front of him, he passed back to Fabinho who whipped in a Trent Alexander-Arnold’esque cross to Virgil Van Dijk on the other flank.
VVD was in a position to have a go himself but instead unselfishly headed it across to Salah who had in the meantime, stealthily crept into space totally unmarked in front of David Raya’s goal.
Despite a lack of proper contact with his right foot during his first attempt to put the ball in, our Number 11 remedied to that with his favourite left foot.
It’s now eight consecutive home games during which the Egyptian King has scored. His latest goal particularly showcased his game intelligence while his stats for the club just keep growing to mind blowing levels.
Not much after that
Unfortunately, there would be only a few noteworthy Liverpool attempts for the remainder of the match.
On the 29th, a long Trent pass from midfield found Nunez who should have scored instead of lifting ball just over.
On the 52nd, Cody Gakpo somewhat failed to properly connect with a Diogo Jota cross with the goal completely at his mercy.
Trent also had a go but his long-range shot was spectacularly tipped aside by a flying Raya.
For their part, shortly before half-time, Bryan Mbeumo did put the ball at the back of the net for the away team. But he was ruled offside at the start of a powerful run during which he managed to shrug off VVD.
To threaten Alisson Becker, Brentford relied more on free-kicks during which they would put around 6 players against Liverpool’s backline.
Two of them would deliberately stray in an offside position as the set-piece is taken with the hope of receiving an assist from one of their remaining four teammates. They would then be in an unmarked position to pounce.
Quite subtle, but the Reds were able to foil such tactic one free-kick after the next.
It was more of a scrappy victory for Liverpool as evidenced by the almost even possession statistics, quite unusual for any team visiting Anfield.
But at this stage of the season, the most important thing is the 3 points, no matter how you get them. There won’t be any additional bonus point for winning a match in an emphatic swashbuckling way.
And keeping control of the match ranks more importantly in Jurgen Klopp’s playbook. Fingers crossed we’ll also be soon in control of our destiny for a top 4 finish.