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Hot Off The Press: Liverpool

Sky Sports' Richard Morgan on Jürgen Klopp's Reds

15 January 2022

Liverpool sit third in the Premier League table going into this weekend’s clash, 11 points behind leaders Man City following a disappointing festive period – albeit with a game in hand. What have you made of the last three months?

It has been an up-and-down period really where every slip up Liverpool have made has been ruthlessly punished by Man City, who have been perfect in this period. The Reds have not played badly, but the rub of the green has gone against them at crucial times in some games, while Covid – as with all teams - has also affected Jürgen Klopp’s ability to play his strongest side from mid-December onwards. And now, realistically, they must win pretty much every game until the end of the season to stand any chance of catching the champions.

It came as no surprise that Mo Salah and Sadio Mane were named in the squads of their respective nations - Egypt and Senegal – for this month’s AFCON, but how much will the Reds miss their presence? 

Hugely! They have 24 Premier League goals between them so far this season and, with their pace and trickery, are always stretching opposition defences to the full. It is not just their goals, though, but also the chances they create for others – they have 10 assists between them in this campaign – and as good as they are, the likes of backup strikers Roberto Firmino, Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi just will not be able to have that sort of attacking impact in their absence.

When you spoke to prior to the return fixture, you said the club could possibly look into strengthening in central midfield and in attack during the January transfer window. Do you think they are avenues they will still look to explore this month?  

Highly unlikely I’d say, especially with January being such a tricky month to do business in, with the sort of players you are after very rarely available. Liverpool are reportedly pondering a £60m deal for Porto forward Luis Diaz, but I’d be surprised if that move happened this month, with the only transfer activity set to involve players leaving the club, like defenders Nat Phillips and Neco Williams.

With those two out of contention due to their international exploits, which player should Brentford fans be keeping an eye on Sunday? 

Never take your eye off Liverpool’s marauding right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, the player who has created the most big chances in the Premier League this season. The England international returned to Liverpool’s starting line-up for their goalless draw with Arsenal at Anfield in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final on Thursday night after recovering from Covid and expect him to be heavily involved in the hosts’ attacks on Sunday. Keep Alexander-Arnold quiet and the Bees will go a long way to getting a result on Merseyside…

How is Jurgen Klopp likely to set up his side at Anfield? 

How he always does, in his favourite 4-3-3 formation.

Few could possibly have predicted the thrilling 3-3 draw between the teams back in September! What is your score prediction for this one? 

Correct, and I certainly did not! I expect Brentford to come and make life very difficult for Liverpool by defending with men behind the ball when required to, but without sitting back for the whole game. The visitors have the players to cause the Reds defence problems on the counterattack, meaning the first goal will be absolutely crucial. However, I can see a stubborn Bees leaving Anfield with a creditable 1-1 draw, with the Liverpool frontline misfiring once again in the absence of Salah and Mane.

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