Liverpool eased to a 3-0 victory over Brentford at Anfield yesterday. A stubborn Bees rearguard was broken on the stroke of halftime by Fabinho. That made for a better second half showing as Ox and Minamino added gloss to the scoreline. Here’s a review of the game.

You can find player ratings from the match here:

° Lineup. There were two changes from the team that faced Arsenal, with Jones coming in for Milner and Ox replacing Minamino in attack. Jones was rewarded for his impressive cameo and Ox was picked presumably to add more pace to the frontline and allow Jota play off the left.

° Another parked bus. Brentford sat deep and challenged the Reds to break them down. That didn’t look like happening though, with loads of possession and dominance not translating into any clear cut chances from open play. The first half felt like a repeat of Thursday night, but for one key difference…

° Better set piece deliveries. Liverpool won 8 corners against Arsenal and an extra number of free kicks in wide areas. However their delivery from those dead ball situations left a lot to be desired, with Robertson especially culpable.

There was a marked improvement yesterday as set pieces looked the likeliest route to breaking the deadlock for Jürgen Klopp’s side. Brentford had the height advantage but they struggled to deal with the pinpoint accuracy of Trent’s deliveries especially. The Reds won 9 corners and looked dangerous from almost every one.

° Deadlock broken. It was perhaps no surprise that the opening goal came from a set piece. Another wicked Trent delivery caused confusion in the Bees’ box and Fabinho was on hand to apply the finishing touch at the back post with a deft header planted into the bottom corner.

° Changing the complexion of the game. That opening goal right on the stroke of halftime was just what the doctor ordered. It meant Brentford had to open up and commit a few more bodies forward. That would then leaves space for Liverpool to profit off in attack.

° Poor 45-65. Jürgen Klopp’s side didn’t have it all their own way second half. Brentford started to press higher up the pitch and got some joy. Liverpool wobbled in the first half of the second half, as they failed to get going. They were almost punished when Mbuemo spun Matip in the box and fired a shot just past the post.

° Crucial second goal. Thomas Frank was sensing his side could get back into the game. Not long after the Mbuemo chance he sent on Yoanne Wissa for Baptiste in what was an attacking change. A minute later Oxlade-Chamberlain finished off Robertson’s cross with a diving header to effectively kill off the game as a contest.

° Much improved midfield. The midfield has come in for some heavy criticism in recent weeks but they responded with a strong performance yesterday. Fabinho was named the MOTM by the fans whilst Henderson and Jones both had excellent outings. That’s more like it.

° Fantastic Fabinho. Fabinho won the most ground duels (8), the most aeriel duels (7) and created the most chances (4) for Liverpool yesterday. He also registered the highest passing accuracy (92%) of players that started the game. He’s the club’s topscorer since Mané and Salah departed for AFCON. How’s that for stepping up?

° Birthday goal for Taki. Minamino missed a sitter in injury time against Arsenal and you feared his confidence would be shot to bits. That fear was compounded when he was dropped for Ox here. It was therefore heartening to see him come off the bench and score on what was his 27th birthday. He has Bobby to thank for that present.

Minamino celebrates with Firmino

° T🅰️🅰️. Trent has now created the most chances (58) and provided the most assists (10) in the PL this season. This is also the third time in four seasons he’s reached 10 league assists, with his sights set on breaking the record he set for most assists by a defender in a single PL season.

Since the start of the 2018-19 season, only Thomas Müller (64) and Lionel Messi (47) have provided more assists in Europe’s big-five leagues than the 23 year old right back. He’s directly contributed to 18 goals for club and country this season. It’s frightening stuff.

° Gordon debut. 17 year old Kaide Gordon came on to make his PL debut, a week after becoming the second youngest goalscorer in the club’s history. With Mané and Salah away, he’s getting his chance. He almost marked the occasion with a goal too.

° Ox injury. Oxlade-Chamberlain cut a frustrated figure on the right wing as most of what he tried failed to come off. That was until he buried his header past Fernandez to seal the game. Unfortunately, he rolled his ankle not long after and was taken off. With options already short, it is an untimely injury.

° Up to second. The victory moved Liverpool up to second in the league table, 11 points behind Manchester City and 2 points clear of Chelsea. The Reds have a game in hand at home to Leeds. Win that and it’s theoretically an 8 point gap. A trip to the Etihad is still to come so it’s not an insurmountable lead.

° It is a highly unlikely task though. City are currently on a 12 game winning streak. To topple them, the Reds must embark on an even longer streak of their own. We’re talking of winning at least 14/15 of the remaining 17 games, if not more.

When City clawed back an 8 point gap to pip Liverpool to the title by a single point in 2018/19, they won each of their last 14 league games. That’s the sort of run Jürgen Klopp’s side need to put together to pull off an improbable comeback.

° What’s next? A trip to Arsenal on Thursday to decide who goes to Wembley to face Chelsea in the League Cup final. The first leg was hugely frustrating but the win yesterday should give the Reds confidence. Beat Arsenal and it’s a shot at a trophy. It’s an absolute must win game.



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