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First Team

Hot Off The Press: Liverpool

Richard Morgan of Sky Sports previews The Reds

24 September 2021

It has been a really encouraging start to the season for Liverpool, with four wins from five games in all competitions at the time of writing. What have you made of what you’ve seen so far?

It has been a solid and encouraging start to the season, especially after some of the struggles seen last time out. Liverpool fans were wondering whether last season’s dip in form from January to March was a sign this team was on its way down after its incredible winning run of 2018-20, or just a mere blip caused by a chronic injury crisis at the back, coupled with an absence of fans. However, judging by their first few matches, it was the latter, with the Reds seemingly back to their previous best. The forward line, which in fairness kept firing last season, looks as good as ever, while Virgil van Dijk’s swift return from an ACL has brought a calm authority back to the defence.

There were seven permanent outgoings in the summer, with Ibrahima Konate the sole recruit. Would you have liked to see more movement from the club in the transfer window?

Of course, but FSG were never going to do that - that is not how they operate. The one glaring area of the team that needed strengthening was at centre-back after last season’s travails, which saw the likes of midfielders Fabinho and Jordan Henderson utilised as makeshift central defenders for large parts of the campaign. And Konate’s £36m arrival - finalised early in the window - has fixed that issue. Many supporters, though, feel the team is also light both in central midfield following the summer departure of Gini Winjaldum and in attack. However, the club were unable to shift enough fringe players before the window closed to bring in a back-up forward like Jarrod Bowen, while Jurgen Klopp felt that Harvey Elliott’s emergence in pre-season would compensate for Winjaldum’s exit. We will see if Klopp and Co were right, although Elliott’s recent serious ankle injury may now force the club to re-enter the market when the window reopens in January.

Mo Salah joined the Premier League’s 100 club when he scored in the 3-0 win over Leeds earlier this month. That’s some achievement, isn’t it…

It was a wonderful moment to see Salah (pictured above) reach his well-deserved century of top-flight goals at Elland Road - and in such quick time too, the fourth-fastest in Premier League history! And what is more, it is incredible to think there were more than a few questions raised about how much Liverpool paid to sign the Egypt international from Roma in the summer of 2017. But in the intervening four years, Salah has proved those doubters wrong by establishing himself as one of the most complete centre forwards in the world.

Which player should Brentford fans be keeping an eye on this Saturday?

it is hard to single out one player, but Trent Alexander-Arnold has enjoyed another impressive start to the campaign. Ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Leeds on September 12, the attack-minded right back had created more chances than any other player in the Premier League and Brentford will need to keep a close eye on him as, if the Bees allow him time and space to continually maraud forward down the right flank, then they could be in for a long afternoon.

How is Jurgen Klopp likely to set up his side in west London?

Klopp virtually never changes formation, whoever Liverpool are playing, and that will be no different on Saturday with the visitors lining up in their usual 4-3-3 formation. Both full backs will push on into midfield, with Fabinho holding in front of the back four and the other two midfield players operating further forward as part of a diamond. And up front, the three-man forward line sees the No 9 - either Diogo Jota or Roberto Firmino - often dropping back to create an extra man in midfield.

This is the first meeting between the two sides since March 1989, when Liverpool won 4-0 in an FA Cup tie at Anfield. What’s your score prediction this time around?

I remember that last meeting in March 1989, but I think the scoreline will be a lot closer this time around! I’ve been impressed with Brentford’s start to their debut campaign in the Premier League and they will clearly not just sit back and admire their more illustrious opponents. Having said that, that could actually play into Liverpool’s hands the way they like to catch teams out on the counter, so I see a cagey contest ending in a 2-1 win to the Reds.

Arrive before 4.30pm and save big on food and drinks at the stadium with pints, sausage rolls, and pies all available for just £3.50

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