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The defence, Salah & perspective – Last word on Brentford 3-3 Liverpool

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It was a rollercoaster of a night with six goals across the 90 minutes and plenty of chances that went begging, for the neutral it would have been a hit but for Reds a missed opportunity.

An early opportunity to move clear at the Premier League summit was left on the table by Jurgen Klopp‘s side as a flashback to the defensive woes of old saw Liverpool pay the price.

Goals from Diogo Jota, Mohamed Salah and Curtis Jones ought to have been enough but an inability to deny an intense and lively Brentford would mean the spoils were shared.

A sense of what could have been but the 90-minute affair will leave Liverpool with plenty of lessons to make them stronger, in the long run, all the while maintaining their unbeaten start.

Here, This Is Anfield’s Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_), Marc Kenny (@marckenny) and Karl Matchett (@karlmatchett), who was at the stadium, discuss the Reds’ defence, Salah’s hits and miss and keeping perspective.

 

The defensive performance…

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 25, 2021: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker looks dejected as Brentford score an equalising goal to level the score 3-3 during the FA Premier League match between Brentford FC and Liverpool FC at the Brentford Community Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

MARC: I still can’t believe the ball found its way across the six-yard box for Brentford‘s first, which was straight from the training ground.

Their second goal sums it up for me though, when the cross goes in there were three on the back post vs. Trent. You can argue they were scrappy goals but Brentford came out to have a go at us and it paid off for them.

KARL: Adding to Marc, I’m going to pick a couple of great moments out: Van Dijk’s ridiculous sprint back to beat Toney racing through, just inside the area, and Henderson doing the same to stop Janelt. Both were superb recoveries, really good spots to thwart moments of danger.

Sadly, these are both as much negatives as Trent being left outnumbered three-to-one at the far post for their second. They were necessary because of a total failure to track runners, to have a couple of players in the right position and a failure to close down the ball quickly enough high upfield.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 25, 2021: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Brentford FC and Liverpool FC at the Brentford Community Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JOANNA: It felt like we turned back the clock some years! Trent being outnumbered happened far too often and it appeared as though some of the players let the emotion and atmosphere override the smart and right move.

It’s never great when one or two players have a bad day but the backline was well below the standards they’ve set themselves in all facets of their game, but only up from here surely!

Chaotic, frenetic, disorderly – pick any such synonym!

KARL: It was certainly chaotic for me, Joanna, but most worryingly, we didn’t solve it where we usually do: from the front.

 

Salah’s record and agonising miss…

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 25, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scores the second goal past Brentford's goalkeeper David Raya during the FA Premier League match between Brentford FC and Liverpool FC at the Brentford Community Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

KARL: The run and finish was classic Mo – from our vantage point in the BCS it was so clearly coming about two seconds before Fabinho made the beautiful clipped pass.

That channel he loves so much, the body shape opening up and a deft finish to give the ‘keeper no chance: if there’s an archetypal Salah goal, that one might be it. But, the miss…obviously he should have buried it, and particularly in a game as back-and-forth as that one had been to that point, but he had three shots, two on target and one went in – most forwards would love a record as consistent as his.

MARC: He really is on another level and has been since the moment he pulled on a red shirt just over four years ago, so you feel harsh giving him any criticism!

But, he puts that past the keeper, it’s 4-2 and game over. I think he was being too clever or caught in two minds on the finish as he seems to have so much time. If he has another 10 of those and he’ll score every time!

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 25, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah, captain Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold prepare for a free-kick during the FA Premier League match between Brentford FC and Liverpool FC at the Brentford Community Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

KARL: There were other misses bigger than his, it’s just that Mo’s came at a critical time toward the end of the match, so I’m not placing blame on him for points dropped. Jota’s first-half miss or the defensive work, in general, played just as big a part.

JOANNA: I’m with Marc on that it feels incredibly tough to criticise Mo and it’s by no means his fault alone as Karl pointed out, but he had to finish his one vs. one! The chip didn’t need to be done and he could’ve easily tucked it away to make sure of the result.

But another goal and another two milestones is simply astonishing for a one-season wonder eh… It’s a pure joy to watch him play and we are privileged to be able to do so, just put the nail in the coffin next time Mo!

 

And keeping perspective…

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 25, 2021: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk looks dejected after the FA Premier League match between Brentford FC and Liverpool FC at the Brentford Community Stadium. The game ended in a 3-3 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

MARC: The way we’ve been playing and the quality of football we’ve been producing, anything less than three points is going to feel like a loss, which Brentford did.

Fans are going to be frustrated but you’ve got to look at where we are, top of the Premier League and off to a great start in the Champions League too. You could see Jurgen smile at the full-time whistle, he knows it was just one of those games. We’ve got Porto and Man City in the space of a week now so all the focus will be on those.

KARL: ‘Ignore it’ remains my social media advice, if any particular comment isn’t based on more than a few minutes of action. When we won the league, wins were relentless yes, but people still forget that’s not the norm.

An away draw isn’t the end of the world when placed into context: a newly promoted club playing (in front of fans) their biggest game ever in that new stadium. They were massively, hugely up for it, the atmosphere was incredible throughout which really boosted their players with every goal and few have Brentford‘s style or system in the league.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 25, 2021: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino looks dejected after missing a chance during the FA Premier League match between Brentford FC and Liverpool FC at the Brentford Community Stadium. The game ended in a 3-3 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A draw is easily absorbable and has no real say on what comes next!

JOANNA: I can only echo both Marc and Karl, it was a tough result to take considering the chances and our uncharacteristically poor defending.

So there is certainly no need to blow it out of proportion as Liverpool remain unbeaten, have goals in them and can utilise an outing such as this one to take valuable lessons from – better now than later!

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