BRENTFORD, England — Brentford secured their first victory over Liverpool since 1938 with a 3-1 victory at Geteck Community Stadium on Monday, dealing a fresh blow to the Reds’ hopes of reaching the top four in the Premier League to qualify for the Championship. Champions League.
Ibrahima Konate’s own goal in the 19th minute and Yoan Wissa’s header in the 42nd minute gave the hosts a well-deserved lead as Liverpool got off to a terrible start.
Although Liverpool improved after the restart, halving the deficit through Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s first goal in almost a year on 50 minutes, they were unable to establish their dominance in possession, and Brian Mbeumu famously sealed a victory six minutes from time. .
As a result, Liverpool finished the day 15 points behind first-placed Arsenal in the Premier League, and ahead of Brentford in sixth.
1. Liverpool lose their ground in the Premier League race
A new year but an old feeling: another night when you finish in the top four, it just gets tougher for Liverpool.
The Reds continue to make the task too difficult for themselves – Monday was the 13th time in 26 games across all competitions this season that they had conceded the first goal as part of a dreadful first-half performance.
Liverpool would have been eyeing the chance to push Tottenham into fifth place but could they now fall seven points off the top four, depending on results elsewhere over the next few days.
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That will put more pressure on new signing Kodi Jaco to hit the ground running and the club in general to support Klopp further in the transfer market. The Liverpool manager has made it clear that the club “can’t cash out” this month, particularly while they are looking for new owners, and so answers may have to be found within them. Jakpo, 23, is expected to score the goals.
The Reds improved at least after half-time, but ending up with 72.5% possession and just one goal was an indication that the team was operating below par on both ends of the field.
2. Liverpool struggle with and without Van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk has always been the rock on which Liverpool build their success, but the usually emphatic Dutchman fell well short of his best here.
With Liverpool just 2-0 down at half-time – two more goals ruled out for offside – Klopp made a trio of changes that saw Joel Matip, Andy Robertson and Naby Keita replaced by Van Dijk, Harvey Elliott and Konstantinos Tsimikas.
Klopp would probably change all 11 if he could, but the spectacle of Van Dijk’s withdrawal was particularly stunning, even if Klopp later insisted it was a precautionary change due to the risk of injury. It was the first time Van Dijk had been removed after 45 minutes since a previously planned substitution in the EFL Cup match against Lincoln City in September 2020.
Liverpool’s defense improved a bit after the break, but Konat was easily beaten by Mbeumo to score Brentford’s third goal.
Brentford’s Thomas Frank has scored nine goals from set-pieces this season – the fourth-highest total in the division – but nevertheless it was troubling how vulnerable Liverpool looked from both set-pieces. Even in open play, their high line of defense will once again be the focus of much criticism and concern.
Van Dijk’s positioning and decision-making is often key in making this approach work, and if there’s any kind of World Cup hangover for the Reds captain, Klopp needs to be gone fast.
3- Nunez’s suffering continues since the record signing
All signs are that Liverpool’s £85m signing of Darwin Nunez will eventually turn out well – but the wait is becoming increasingly painful.
In the end, the catalog of missed chances against Leicester City on Friday didn’t cost Klopp’s side as they went on to win regardless, but Brentford made them pay the price this time around.
This match might have been very different had Nunez been given a golden opportunity in the eighth minute. After being fired by Mohamed Salah, Núñez ran past Brentford goalkeeper David Raya but saw his shot wide of the line from Ben Mai. It was a fine defensive piece from Mee, with fairness, but it was indicative of Nunez’s recent troubles in front of goal.
Nunez then thought he had scored his fifth Premier League goal when he finished smartly after the start of the second half, but the goal under review was ruled out by VAR for offside. After drawing another half chance from the goal, the 23-year-old finished the night booked and on the losing side.
Nunez has all the attributes that enable him to thrive, but players with such a price tag are given less time to start making an impact. Liverpool need him to fulfill his apparent potential sooner rather than later.
Brentford: David Raya 7, Matthias Jorgensen 7, Ethan Pinnock 7, Ben Mei 7, Mads Roerslev 7, Matthias Jensen 7, Kristian Norgaard 8, Vitaly Janellet 7, Rico Henry 8, Brian Mbeumo 9, Yuan Wissa 8.
Submarines: Josh DaSilva 6, Ken Lewis Potter 6, Saman Quddous 6, Sergi Kanos 6.
Liverpool: Alisson 5, Trent Alexander-Arnold 5, Virgil van Dijk 4, Ibrahima Konate 5, Konstantinos Tsimikas 4, Thiago Alcantara 6, Fabinho 6, Harvey Elliott 4, Mohamed Salah 6, Darwin Nunez 6, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 6.
Submarines: Joel Matip 6, Andy Robertson 6, Naby Keita 6, Curtis Jones 6.
The best and worst performers
Best: Brian Mbeumo, Brentford
A constant danger with his running behind and sealing victory a third late.
Worst: Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool
He looked completely out of sorts with his usual composure and was dismissed by Klopp in the first half. Klopp later said the move was an injury precaution, but that it may also have been based on his performance up to that point.
Highlights and notable moments
Brentford’s first goal wasn’t pretty – it was an own goal from Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konate – but it mattered.
The ball collides with Ben Mai, then Konate turns it into his own goal.
– NBC Sports Soccer (NBCSportsSoccer) January 2, 2023
Brentford continued to press for goal and eventually had two potential goals taken away for offside in the first half.
But Yoane Wissa has found a way to double Brentford’s lead, although it takes goal-line technology to concede it as a goal.
– Premier League USA (PLinUSA) January 2, 2023
The first half ended with Brentford clearly the better side. Expected goals (a measure of the quality of scoring chances) finished the first half with Brentford at 1.60 xG and Liverpool at 1.25 xG.
But Liverpool came out of the second half swinging. Darwin Nunez scored an offside goal in the first three minutes of the second half, then Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored in the 50th minute.
TAA AOC 🔥
Beauty LFC to cut the lead.
– Premier League USA (PLinUSA) January 2, 2023
Liverpool largely calmed down after the goal, however, eventually conceding again to Brentford’s Brian Mbeumu and failing to score a single goal in order to finish 3–1.
After the match: What the players and managers said
Brentford striker Yoan Wissa: “I hope the fans enjoyed it. We worked hard, and it’s because we’re together – we stay together and that’s why we got this result.”
Liverpool defender Andy Robertson in the first half: “First half, we were nowhere near good enough – everything we worked on, everything we did. They were the first to play second balls, and we got rid of cheap set-pieces. We knew they’re a consistent team, really good at corner kicks, they make it really difficult.” We have to be more aggressive in the air – more aggressive when the ball goes into the penalty area and it’s a pity we didn’t.”
Robertson on the score: “I don’t think there can be any complaints about the result. They deserved to win. They played better football, especially in the first half, and that’s why you get a result like that.”
Key stats (courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info)
Liverpool conceded the first goal in a Premier League match for the tenth time this season. Across 19 matches, the first own goal has been scored 10 times which is the fifth in Premier League history, and the most since the 1999-00 season.
Brentford join Manchester United and Brighton as the only two teams to beat Liverpool by two goals in the Premier League this season.
Brentford have won three Premier League matches this season against so-called Big Six opponents – that’s the most by any team outside those six teams (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur).
Brentford: The Bees turn into the FA Cup when they host West Ham in the third round of the competition on Saturday, January 7 at 12:30pm ET. Brentford then returns to the Premier League on Saturday January 14th when they host Bournemouth at 12:30pm ET.
Liverpool: The Reds move into the FA Cup when they host Wolves in the third round of the competition on Saturday, January 7 at 3pm ET. Then Liverpool return to Premier League action when they travel to take on Bright & Hove Albion on Saturday January 14th at 10am ET.