Liverpool v Brentford – PL Preview
On the morning after Anfield bound midfielder, Alexis Mac Allister, scored a 99th minute penalty against Manchester, it has perhaps made this Saturday evenings matchup even more interesting. With Brighton winning that enthralling home game against Manchester United, it placed them just four points behind Liverpool, with two games in hand on them. Though the reds should absolutely be looking over their shoulders, I also hope they have one eye on what is in front of them. Manchester United are still four points ahead, however, they now only have the one game in hand. With a trip to West Ham coming their weekend way, it does mean that the reds could close the gap on their greatest rival to just one point. Brentford travel to Anfield for a tea time kick off on Saturday, where United do not play until Sunday evening, thereby creating a tantalizing weekend of football for the reds fanbase.
Brentford come into this game on the back of a 2-1 home win against struggling Nottingham Forest, after a routine 0-2 away win against Chelsea, following an impressive 1-1 home draw against in-form Aston Villa. Thomas Frank and his Brentford side have solidified their position as the Premier League’s best West London outfit, ahead of Fulham and their big spending’s neighbours, Chelsea. With a system and aggression within their team that is causing many teams (including Liverpool) to crumble, it only adds to the spice this game is likely to produce. The 9th placed team humbled Jürgen Klopp’s stuttering team back in January, with a 3-1 victory perhaps acting as the low point in the reds campaign. Brentford are the team that have become a brilliant asset to our English top tier, with a marvellous 50 points taken from their 34 games played.
In terms of injuries and availability, the London club will be without Pontus Jansson, Keane Lewis-Potter, and Christian Norgaard. Thomas Strakosha and Kristoffer Ajer will be hopeful of making the match day squad, after their respective injuries.
The starting line-up will see David Raya start in goal, behind a back four of Aaron Hickey, Rico Henry, Ethan Pinnock, and Ben Mee. The middle three should comprise Mikkel Damsgaard, Vitaly Janelt, and Mathias Jensen. The front line will see the superb Ivan Toney flanked by Bryan Mbeumo, and either Kevin Schade or Yoane Wissa.
Liverpool come into this game on the back of an uneventful 1-0 home win against Fulham, after their very eventful 4-3 home win against Tottenham. That double of Anfield victories came after a hard fought 1-2 away win against West Ham. This good run of wins has taken the reds to five straight victories, which has somewhat solidified their current 5th place in the Premier League table. With 59 points from their 34 games played, the end of the weekend should offer more insight into their potential top four hopes this year.
In terms of the Liverpool availabilities, Calvin Ramsay, and Stefan Bajčetić are definitely out, whilst Naby Keïta may well make the bench. Roberto Firmino is out for at least another week, whereas Thiago Alcântara is now out for the rest of the season. With eight days between this game and the trip to face Leicester City, you would imagine that Klopp goes full strength for this game.
Alisson Becker will resume in goal, with Virgil and Ibrahima Konaté retaining their places in central defense. Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander Arnold should start at fullback, though it should be noted how well Kostas Tsimikas performed in the week. Jordan Henderson should retain his spot, after a good showing against Fulham, whilst Curtis Jones will also retain his midfield spot after a very solid run in the side. Fabinho is surely a nailed-on starter as the holding midfielder, with his on-ball partnership with Trent looking very promising. Mohamed Salah and Cody Gakpo look likely to start, with Diogo Jota maybe to come in for Luis Diaz. The Columbian flyer has only just returned from a long-term injury; therefore, his minutes are likely to be managed. Darwin will retake his place on the substitutes bench.
Brentford are safe from relegation, whilst having a very outside chance of European qualification. The power and aggression of the away team’s front line should make for some interesting duals; however, you feel that the home side will simply have too much firepower, too much possession, too much desperation for three points, and too many elite level players that can make the difference. Though the visitors will undoubtedly cause concern on the break and with their set piece plays, it shouldn’t stop Liverpool from closing the gap on top four.
Player to watch – Cody Gakpo
Liverpool 3 – 1 Brentford