Liverpoool were disappointing in a 3-1 defeat to Brentford. This is what we spotted as Naby Keïta changed things but Jürgen Klopp was left with yet more questions.
G-TECH COMMUNITY STADIUM, BRENTFORD // Liverpool missed the chance to move to just two points outside of the Champions League spots with a frustrating 3-1 defeat at Brentford.
Jürgen Klopp’s side were made to pay for an appalling 35 minutes in the first half in which they conceded twice and could easily have been further behind.
A triple substitution at half-time changed the flow of the match but the Reds had given themselves too much to do and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goal proved only to be a consolation.
Here are the four things Liverpool.com spotted as the game unfolded, with Yoane Wissa and an own-goal from Ibrahima Konaté giving the West London side the points.
Konaté was unfortunate with his first-half own-goal but the entire Liverpool team just did not look right at the back. The Frenchman should have been stronger with the third goal that killed the game, going down and claiming a foul.
Harvey Elliott’s dummy that led to the second goal just about summed up the strange decision-making across the board and the midfield was bypassed far too easily time and time again.
Liverpool were unable to perform in a consistent manner moving forward and missed chances again, while gifting them, particularly from set-pieces, at the other end.
You can get away with that once, but not twice in a row. They did against Leicester; they did not here. And suddenly the top four looks that little bit further away again.
Darwin Núñez impresses to a point
Liverpool forward Núñez was unlucky in both halves not to score — he went around the goalkeeper in the first, before being marginally offside in the second — but he created plenty more chances in the game once more.
The Uruguayan still needs to be more clinical but he worked incredibly hard and emerged with credit again.
The relationship between him and Mohamed Salah continues to grow and that can only be a good thing, even if at some point, the opportunities he gets need to be converted into goals.
Attack almost comes together… but not quite
Oxlade-Chamberlain was making his 100th Premier League appearance for Liverpool, but, more interestingly, it was the first time in almost three years that he started three league games in a row.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was lively in the first half and then scored immediately in the second, netting from a brilliant cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold, who notched a first assist of the campaign.
Alongside Núñez and Salah, Oxlade-Chamberlain did well. With Cody Gakpo soon available, he might not get many more chances to start this season, but he was not the issue here or the reason that Liverpool failed to get a result.
Triple substitution an improvement
Naby Keïta, Andy Robertson and Joël Matip all came onto the pitch at half-time, with Virgil van Dijk (slight injury), Kostas Tsimikas and Harvey Elliott taken off.
Robertson, in particular, was a game-changer early, suddenly giving Liverpool a huge threat down the left with dangerous balls into the box, showing his quality.
Keïta, meanwhile, gave Liverpool control in the centre of the pitch. The best way of avoiding giving Brentford chances from set-pieces is to avoid giving the ball away in silly areas and inviting pressure, and the Guinean was a big help in the main.
Keïta was excellent and completely transformed the Reds’ middle third, offering simple passes and a much better defensive structure out of possession. The change with him on the pitch was blatantly obvious, until he gave the ball away far too easily for Brentford’s third.
The midfield was once again a big issue, though. Liverpool desperately need fresh legs in there and Matheus Nunes could be a possible answer. Someone needs to be, otherwise the Champions League places will be out of reach.