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Improvements, but what next for forward line? – Last word on Liverpool 3-0 Brentford

It was a cathartic victory for Liverpool as they secured all three points thanks to three goals, putting aside the chatter of who is not available to Jurgen Klopp.

Much of the reaction to Thursday’s stalemate focused on who was not here after a route to goal was continually blocked, but that was, thankfully, not the case against Brentford.

The Reds had Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Takumi Minamino to thank for that in what was a dominant if not entirely convincing display from Klopp’s men.

But three points was the goal and it was a job well done in the end, but how severe is the No. 15’s injury and what could that mean for the trip to the Emirates?

Here, This Is Anfield’s Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) and Jack Lusby (@LusbyJack) are joined by Samuel Cox (@samuelcoxfutbol) to discuss just that, in addition to the enjoyable moments from the lastest win!

 

The standout moments after a much-needed win!

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 16, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brentford FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JOANNA: I’m going to start this off with Klopp’s emotional fist pumps at the end, it’s a sight we all love to see and there was just an extra bit of passion this time around.

He’s up for the fight and everyone else has to be there next to him. I just love the man!

SAMUEL: On the overall team performance, there was undoubtedly a substantial improvement, with plenty of chances created!

I thought Ox had a number of dangerous moments and stretched the play in transition. However, I would single out Robertson and Alexander-Arnold as really lifting their game.

In the absence of Salah and Mane as wide attackers, their improvement was vital in creating space and chances for others to flourish centrally. Both Trent and Robbo ended up with an assist, and both created good chances from both set pieces and open play.

A couple of Alexander-Arnold’s long-range through balls to Robertson were simply delightful as well.

2022 vs Brentford Fabinho of Liverpool (C) celebrates scoring (Image: Darren Staples/Sportimage)

JOANNA: Aside from their early corner deliveries, I can agree with you there Sam. They’re important every game but especially so when two key threats are missing.

I also want to throw Roberto Firmino‘s name in here, he’s long been my favourite Red and he was at his selfless best again and pressing in the manner we all know and love.

He and the forward were also aided by an improved midfield display, which was desperately needed and hopefully we see the same trajectory on Thursday.

So much improved on the whole, now to take it to the Emirates!

JACK: Given the disappointment he would have felt – and the reaction on social media – after his miss against Arsenal, I thought Taki’s cameo was really impressive.

Obviously, the goal stands out. Another immediate impact from the No. 18.

But his intensity was the key factor: it not only forced Brentford into the error for his goal, but also saw him craft a one-on-one for Kaide Gordon late on.

Only Joel Matip (83.3%) produced a higher pressure success rate than Taki (66.7%), who looked fired up after that setback in midweek.

 

Let’s hope Ox’s injury isn’t serious, but it’s the worst possible time for one…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 16, 2022: Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain receives treatment for an injury during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brentford FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

SAMUEL: It really is. I thought he was a key ingredient in the improved performance and in the absence of Salah and Mane he provided some real drive and threat when we were in transition and of course, he scored the all-important second goal.

Based on that performance, he appeared the best option to fill in for Salah on the righthand side, so his injury will be a blow.

However, it appeared to just be a rolled ankle from stepping on an opponent’s foot so there is every reason to believe it might be a quick recovery, but in the current situation, even just a week or two off the park is a big blow.

JOANNA: That’s the thing, irrespective of if it is just a week or two, it’s a time when our options are already very thin and when we need him most.

Ox has rotten luck, doesn’t he? Scores his goal and then five minutes later he is off, a “shadow on the game” is how Klopp assessed it and he’d be right – now we just have to keep our fingers crossed.

He’s a player who thrives on rhythm and another pause due to injury won’t really do Liverpool or him any good.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 16, 2022: Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain speaks with manager Jurgen Klopp as he goes off injured during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brentford FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JACK: Ox wasn’t amazing, but he certainly filled in comfortably on the right; I was glad it was him in attack and Jones in midfield, not the other way around.

He would almost certainly have started against Arsenal in the cup and then Palace in the league, which could have plugged the gap for long enough until Salah returns.

It looked like a bad injury on first watch and the signs coming out of Liverpool are that it is more than a twisted ankle – unfortunately, those five minutes sum up Ox’s time at Anfield.

Fingers crossed he’s not out for too long, as it’s been a quietly impressive season so far.

 

How should the Reds’ attack look vs. Arsenal?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 16, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp embraces Takumi Minamino after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brentford FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

SAMUEL: With three goals and a vastly improved performance, I would keep the attack the same as far as is possible and hope they can continue to build on their attacking cohesion.

Options are slim to replace Ox, with Minamino likely to be the only real option, so I would bring him back in to start and keep Curtis Jones in the team with a license to push forward and be creative.

I would also plan on injecting Kaide Gordon into the game as a lively option in the second half, bring him on early if the attack needs an extra spark.

Finally, Jota is most certainly due a goal or two, hopefully, they find their way into Arsenal’s net on Thursday.

JACK: It’s a shame Origi is unlikely to be fit to start, as he would have been the ideal plug-in-and-go alternative.

Instead, it will almost certainly be Taki. The only problem there, of course, is that him, Firmino and Jota are all best as a central striker.

Klopp won’t change formation, but a 4-4-2 diamond with Firmino behind Taki and Jota could be an interesting solution.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 16, 2022: Liverpool's substitute Kaide Gordon comes on to make his League debut during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brentford FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JOANNA: There’s really not a whole lot of wiggle room as the guys have mentioned already.

I agree that if Ox is fit and well, the front three would remain the same. But if not, Origi still needs time to train, Salah and Mane are away so it only really leaves Minamino and Gordon.

With Jones needed in midfield, I’d have to opt for Taki next to Firmino and Jota, even though I’d love to see Gordon get a run – says more about the circumstances than the 17-year-old.

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