The Anfield Wrap’s match preview before Liverpool v Brentford in the 2022-2023 Premier League at Anfield…
WIN, win, win, win, win. Liverpool are in uncharted waters.
It hasn’t been pretty, it hasn’t been spectacular and my god has it not been easy. But Jürgen Klopp’s team have managed to score more goals than the opposition in five successive matches for the first time in exactly 368 days.
The Big Four beckons and Brentford are next on the chopping block.
Whisper it quietly, but Thomas Frank’s side have been on the slide for a couple of months now. In their last 10 games they have managed to beat who they should beat – Southampton, Chelsea and Forest – but they’re capable of stinkers too.
Any respectable outfit that claims to have serious Europa Conference League aspirations cannot, under any circumstances, be defeated by potentially the worst Everton side since 1953.
Having said all that, make no mistake about it, Brentford are no mugs.
And let’s not forget what they did to Liverpool back in January. In terms of the round thing, Brentford didn’t want to know. They were more than happy to frustrate, nullify, nullify and frustrate, before breaking brilliantly with Mbeumo and Wissa – the kind of players for whom Liverpool are yet to find a solution.
Mathias Jensen and Vitaly Janelt each get through a ton of work, and though he didn’t feature in January, Ivan Toney remains perennially, adamantly, unapologetically Ivan Toney.
If I’m honest, I expect a similar challenge to Spurs on Saturday, perhaps without quite so much insanity.
As against most top-half teams this season, Frank should set up with three at the back, two counter-specialists up top and a trio in the middle buzzing with industry.
They dine out on the wide areas and if Liverpool aren’t careful, they could find themselves hemmed in on the attack and skirted around on the retreat.
Christian Norgaard could be a big miss if he fails to recover from a calf problem, but on the other hand, Brentford aren’t exactly short of hard-working, intelligent, Danish midfielders.
For Liverpool, I don’t see a world in which Cody Gakpo and Andy Robertson are left on the bench come Saturday evening. Despite their very best endeavours, both Kostas Tsimikas and Darwin Nunez were sloppy in possession at times and positionally askew off the ball. It’s a toss-up between Harvey Elliot and Jordan Henderson as the right-sided eight, but given the latter’s exertions in midweek, it’s likely to be the former who starts.
I don’t care what Kev Walsh says, I desperately want to finish at least fifth.
You can drive yourself mad with fourth-place speculations, and trust me, I already have. To wrap up Champions League football, United need to win three out of their remaining five and Newcastle need just two. In short, the odds are slim.
But it would be healthier, more than anything, for all concerned to focus on finishing ahead of Brighton, Aston Villa and Spurs. After the season this side has been through, that alone would be quite the achievement.
From the mad ecstasy of Tottenham to the drab grind of Fulham, The Reds go again.
Predicted 11: Alisson; Trent, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Elliott, Fabinho, Jones; Salah, Gakpo, Diaz
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— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) May 5, 2023