Liverpool show they’re packing a real punch going forward in their thrilling draw against Brentford… but their defence must not be so generous when they come up against title rivals Manchester City next weekend
- Liverpool let two points slide during a thrilling contest against Brentford
- Brentford played their part in a game that will go down as a classic this season
- The Reds played with their first-choice back four but leaked three goals
- They will need to tighten up their defence against title rivals Manchester City
Brentford pride themselves on being a friendly club and one steward was eager to preserve that reputation as supporters streamed out of the South Stand.
‘Did you enjoy it?’ he asked repeatedly, with unbridled enthusiasm. ‘Wasn’t it good?’
It was good. Actually, it was wonderful — a Saturday night crammed with excitement, goals and entertainment, one that left a capacity crowd breathless. Brentford played their part in a game that will go down as a classic for the season, even at this early stage.
Liverpool go into their clash with title rivals Manchester City ahead of them in the league table
The Reds were left frustrated though against Brentford as they let two points slip away
But as the locals headed for home glowing, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson was glowering as he waited to do his post-match interviews.
In a quiet moment away from the cameras, it seemed only right to pose the question that the steward had been asking moments earlier.
So had he enjoyed it? ‘Ha!’ said Henderson, smiling momentarily. ‘It was a great atmosphere and, to be fair, I expected it to be like this. I’ve watched their games and they are a good side.
‘They make it intense, difficult and we knew it would be tough. We’ve missed this, these atmospheres when it is all mad.’
Mad seemed an appropriate word as, somewhere deep inside, Henderson was a little bit mad Liverpool had allowed three points to become one. He had been jabbering at his team-mates all through the 90 minutes not to let things slip.
‘But we are disappointed,’ he added. ‘At 2-1, we should have killed the game off. Look, you have to give Brentford credit. They made it difficult, scored three, so I’m sure they will say they deserved at least a point.
Jurgen Klopp saw his side play some of their best attacking football but were leaky at the back
‘We go away a bit disappointed that we haven’t taken all three.’
With good reason. Jurgen Klopp was adamant that Liverpool, at points, had played some of their best attacking football of this fledgling campaign and Brentford needed an outstanding performance from goalkeeper David Raya to keep their head above water at times.
Liverpool remain unbeaten at the top of the table but Henderson was well aware they could — and should — have been heading into next Sunday’s showdown with Manchester City three points clear of their bitter rivals, rather than just the one.
With Manchester United crumbling against Aston Villa and Chelsea running down dead ends against City, Liverpool should have taken the invitation to establish a buffer between them and their rivals.
Having started the campaign only conceding once, they were breached three times and needed one of the best tackles Virgil van Dijk has produced for Liverpool to stop Ivan Toney deciding the contest in stoppage time.
Liverpool started their first-choice back four but Ivan Toney gave them a massive headache
This was Liverpool’s first-choice back four but Toney gave them an unrelenting headache, winning high balls and darting around like an angry wasp. Klopp was so full of admiration for a player who looks one day capable of playing for England that he sought him out and spoke to him at length.
When Klopp reflects, though, he will know that Liverpool will not be able to defend in such a manner against City, whose display at Stamford Bridge served as notice that they are clicking into gear.
‘We knew before the game their strikers would both be a handful,’ said Henderson. ‘They have proven that over the games they have played so far. It’s a bit old school. They are really good in the air, with decent feet.’
The Reds will have to be less generous in defence against Manchester City next weekend
Then he added, tellingly: ‘We needed to defend better as a team, not just rely on the two centre halves and the keeper.’
It was a clear message. Liverpool’s attacking dynamic is sound and with Mohamed Salah in such ‘outrageous’ form — Henderson’s word — they will not lack bullets for the gunfight with Pep Guardiola and company.
There is a determination within Liverpool’s squad to win back the title, and there has been plenty of evidence in these opening weeks that they have a sound chance. If their fans are to go home as happy as Brentford’s, though, it would pay for the team not to be so generous.