New Year, Old Problems — 5 Theses From Brentford — Liverpool 3:1


The year 2023 for Liverpool began with depressing defensive figures, when the Reds lost 3-1 to Brentford in the Premier League.

Brentford 3-1 Liverpool

Public Stadium, Premier League
Monday, January 2, 2023

Goals: Konate-og, 19′, Wissa, 41′, Mbeumo, 85′; Oxlade-Chamberlain 50′

Not monopoly, but competition

Ahead of this game, Klopp wondered why fans are still asking about signing a new player, especially a midfielder, after Cody Gakpo had just been announced.

“I don’t want to disappoint anyone, but we signed a contract with such an outstanding player as Cody Gakpo, and the next thing you read is ‘who’s next?’,” he said. “It’s like we wouldn’t have a team, to be honest. We can’t play like a Monopoly. It is, and we’ve never done it, so I don’t understand it.”

The fact is that we are not asking to play Monopoly. We ask you to be competitive in elite football. And indeed, it is really obvious that, given the way we are now arranged in the center of the park, we cannot be like that.

The teams have been tearing the Reds apart through a soft center throughout the season, and these are not the best players of the national team either: Dewsbury Hall last time, Norgaard and Wissa here this time, among others.

One break behind Van Dijk led to a corner from which they scored, then Thiago’s inept control in the same channel would have been 2-0 had it not been for the offside. And so it went on.

As for the possible second goal that was scored, choose for yourself. Elliott’s decision-making was terrible, there was no tracking, no stopping runners and crosses, Trent lost by a head at the back post, and there was no organization anywhere.

Jurgen, it’s up to you: either a broken system doesn’t work, or new players are needed to implement it. Something needs to change anyway.

All for the transfer

Triple sub at the break.

We will wait to hear the exact reasoning of each player, but Tsimikas, Van Dijk and Elliott were carried away at half-time with Robertson, Matip and Keita.

The result was Robertson’s immediate lunge forward, which almost led to Darwin shooting through the legs for a kick, before the Scot also made another lunge forward, which, after a few more touches elsewhere, ended with the Bull hitting his head.

Nabi was then constantly present, playing concessions, driving through the center to drag the Reds forward and create gaps in the last third.

The changes worked in terms of changing the course of the game, the energy of the team and the danger they could create, but Liverpool had already done so much for themselves that a return was impossible.

Big odds, lines are beaten

Defensive shortcomings are one thing, but by themselves they do not say whether Liverpool is playing well with the ball — and often the Reds have been decent in this regard this season, despite poor overall results.

However, a big and constant mistake is the inability to convert really good opportunities into goals, especially in the stages of the game with the level of points and our too low speed of play in general. When such moments come, they need to be used.

It was the same old story here again: Darwin Nunez blocked one shot after attacking the goalkeeper, Van Dijk’s close–range volley from the side was miraculously turned over before the flag went up anyway, and Kostas Tsimikas side-footed a shot almost into the goalkeeper from eight yards – all in 25 minutes.

Salah hardly took the field that day, but he has missed 12 great chances this season — statistically excellent goal-scoring opportunities, and only one player has missed more: Nunes, who now has 15.

The Uruguayan also executed a brilliantly dexterous left-foot shot, but luck continued to elude him, as the VAR system fixed him out of the game.

Ox and Ibou with contrast effect

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored the goal that seemed like it could bring the Reds back into the game — his first Premier League goal since January 23, 2022, almost a year ago.

More important was the fact that it was his third consecutive start in the league, for the first time since mid-February 2020.

While his first two in the last week or so have been hard-working and diligent, full of intent, in truth they had very little quality or sharpness in handling the ball, given his long absence.

This time it was much better: races, quick exchanges of gears and a sliding header into the bottom corner. He was eventually replaced in the 83rd minute when Karis Jones came on in his 50th Premier League game for the Reds.

Ox has not played 83 minutes in a league match since July 2020, at home to Bournemouth. He may still have something to play for before his contract expires in the summer.

At the other end of the field, Ibou Konate returned for only the second start of the season in the league, but he had a very negative impact on the result, if not on the actual game.

One goal in his own goal, one weak moment to give the third — a really terrible return to the club after the World Cup final in his last match.

The top four gets a hit, but not a decisive one

After two consecutive victories after the World Cup, the Reds significantly reduced the gap from Spurs, who were fourth. They only scored one point in the same period, but that draw was away to Brentford, where we just lost.

They were also redesigned by Manchester United, from which the Reds were four behind before this game, equaling the number of matches played.

Since now we are clearly fighting only to get into the top four, it is important to remember past years in this pursuit: individual games do not necessarily matter, but their clusters may matter.

In other words, will you be able to close the gap between the games of three and four games? Or open one when ahead of the team?

We did it with Spurs during this period, but we will have to do the same again after the break in the FA Cup — and European action awaits us again soon.

We still have to find a lot of answers in our non-standard work, as well as make improvements in the last third.


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