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10 key things to know ahead of Liverpool vs. Brentford

Liverpool host Brentford in the Premier League this weekend, with Man City 14 points clear ahead of kickoff but Chelsea falling short with a two-game cushion.

The Reds were below-par in their stalemate against Arsenal in the League Cup on Thursday, failing to break down 10 men at Anfield.

It’s now back to league action for Jurgen Klopp‘s side, with a well-drilled Brentford team heading north to Merseyside on Sunday afternoon.

Though City pulled further ahead in the title race with a 1-0 win over Chelsea on Saturday, a win for Liverpool would at least see them jump two points ahead of the Blues in second, with a game still in hand.

Here are 10 key things to know ahead of the game.

 

1. Brentford enjoying solid Premier League season

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 25, 2021: Brentford's manager Thomas Frank (R) with Sergi Canós (L) 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)

The Bees secured promotion to the Premier League last May, and while many tipped them to swiftly return to the Championship, they have been a breath of fresh air.

With just over half the season gone, Thomas Frank’s side sit 13th in the table and a distance clear of the relegation zone, suggesting safety is on the cards.

That being said, Brentford will know that long, winless runs are possible in the top-flight and they still have work to do to get to that magical 40-point mark.

The 3-3 draw at home to Liverpool last September showed what the west Londoners are capable of, however, and they will pose a threat this weekend.

 

2. Possible Bees starting XI

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

Brentford were beaten 4-1 away to Southampton on Tuesday night, so it will be interesting to see if Frank shuffles his pack.

The Bees have injury problems, though, with David Raya, Mathias Jorgensen, Charlie Goode and Josh Dasilva all missing out this weekend. Frank Onyeka is on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Nigeria.

Left-back Rico Henry may return, having not featured since December 22 against Chelsea, and former Liverpool man Sergi Canos could start, too.

Ivan Toney gave Liverpool’s defence a torrid time in the reverse fixture and he is expected to lead the line, along with Bryan Mbeumo.

Predicted Brentford XI (3-5-2): Lossl; Ajer, Jansson, Pinnock; Bidstrup, Janelt, Norgaard, Baptiste, Canos; Mbeumo, Toney

 

3. Who’s out for Liverpool?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, December 16, 2021: Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara applauds the supporters after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The most high-profile absentees are Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, as the pair continue to perform at AFCON, along with Naby Keita.

Away from the African players, Thiago is still unavailable due to a hip problem, while Nat Phillips, Harvey Elliott and Divock Origi are out, too.

Liverpool’s COVID issues have now eased, thankfully, with no new positive cases emerging since the Arsenal game.

Klopp has confirmed that there are no new injuries to worry about after the midweek action.

 

4. Predicted Reds’ starting lineup

Diogo Jota celebrates vs Leicester, League Cup penalties (Alamy Photo)

With Salah and Mane both away, there is now a huge amount of onus on Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino to perform in January.

The pair look highly likely to start on Sunday, meaning Jota could adopt more of a wide role to accommodate Firmino centrally.

Meanwhile, Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson is the expected back line.

In midfield, Fabinho looks a certainty to start, while out-of-form pair Jordan Henderson and James Milner will battle with Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the two remaining spots.

Possible Liverpool XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Jones; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jota, Firmino

 

5. Klopp reaches latest milestone

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, January 13, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp is interviewed by LFC.TV after the Football League Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sunday will see Klopp take charge of his 350th game as Liverpool manager – where on earth does the time go?

It has been a legendary six-and-a-half-year stint for the 54-year-old, who has brought the great times back to Anfield, sealing both Champions League and Premier League glory.

Klopp’s contract expires in 2024, however, and there is a nagging feeling that we are closer to the end of his reign than the beginning.

The hope is that one day we are celebrating the German’s 700th match in charge – that could be wishful thinking on our part, though!

 

6. Boss wary of Brentford threat

Speaking in his pre-match press conference on Friday, Klopp was under no illusions about the task awaiting his side:

“I expect a fight. They have a specific way to play, especially against us. We have to be alert, ready. They will probably be direct.

“They are playing a brilliant first season in the Premier League, absolutely impressive. I hope we can play much better than in the first game, and use Anfield.”

While Brentford are a talented team in their own right, there is no denying that anything other than a Reds victory would feel disastrous.

 

7. Liverpool’s record vs. Brentford

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 25, 2021: Liverpool's Curtis Jones celebrates after scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Brentford FC and Liverpool FC at the Brentford Community Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This weekend will see Liverpool and Brentford face each other for the 17th time in history – it’s fair to say the Reds have enjoyed the fixture over the years.

The Bees have only tasted success over the Merseysiders three times, with all of those victories coming way back in the 1930s (1936, 1937 and 1938).

The most recent meeting between the two clubs before this season’s clash was an FA Cup quarter-final tie at Anfield back in March 1989.

Sir Kenny Dalglish‘s side ran out 4-0 winners that day, thanks to Peter Beardsley’s brace and further goals from John Barnes and Steve McMahon, as Liverpool went on to win the competition after a final win over Everton.

 

8. Did you know?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 9, 2022: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates after scoring the third goal during the FA Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Shrewsbury Town FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Firmino should lead the line on Sunday and in the coming weeks, with end product required in the absence of Salah and Mane.

The Brazilian hasn’t necessarily been renowned for his ruthlessness in the final third, but his record this season suggests otherwise.

Firmino has averaged a goal or an assist every 78 minutes in 2021/22, with seven of the former and three of the latter to his name.

In comparison, the 30-year-old’s average last season was 187 and 157 in the title-winning year, while his best tally for an entire campaign is 95 minutes in 2017/18.

 

9. Moss takes charge

London, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 23, 2018: Referee Jonathan Moss during the FA Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Everton FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jon Moss has been confirmed as the referee for Sunday’s clash, while Lee Mason will be on VAR duty.

This is the second Liverpool game that Moss has officiated this season, with the 51-year-old overseeing the 5-0 win away to Watford in October.

He has shown four red cards in the league this season to date, with all of them the result of two yellows.

 

10. Follow our live blog

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 12, 2019: Liverpool supporters check the score of the Brighton & Hove Albion versus Manchester City match on their smart phones during the final FA Premier League match of the season between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sunday’s match is not live on UK television, which means TIA’s matchday live blog is the place to follow the action.

Joanna Durkan will be in the hotseat from 1.15pm (GMT) – kickoff is at 2pm – as she provides intriguing pre-match content and minute-by-minute updates.

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