Liverpool got back to winning ways with a comfortable 3-0 victory against Brentford on Sunday afternoon. Goals from Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Takumi Minamino were enough to earn Jurgen Klopp’s side all three Premier League points at Anfield.
Liverpool are now 11 points behind leaders and champions Manchester City – who’ve won 12 consecutive league games – in the table with a game in hand. Brentford, meanwhile, finds themselves in 14th – 10 points clear of the relegation zone.
Liverpool’s title challenge
It’s probably a bit too soon to say Liverpool’s title challenge is alive again, although Klopp will be glad his side are back to winning ways after a difficult few weeks. The Reds’ last Premier League win came exactly a month ago when they edged Newcastle 3-1 at Anfield and will be hoping not to have a similar wait after Sunday’s result.
Liverpool dominated the game and had plenty of quality, despite losing Mohamed Salah, Naby Keita and Sadio Mane to the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Reds should now be full of confidence heading into the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final against Arsenal on Thursday… presuming the game goes ahead.
Henderson leads the way
Last season wasn’t easy for Jordan Henderson. He missed the final three months with a groin injury and, while he recovered in time, spent most of Euro 2020 on England’s bench. Now, however, Liverpool’s skipper is looking back to his best. The 31-year-old dominated the midfield, making life easy for Fabinho and Curtis Jones alongside him.
Henderson was constantly on the ball and pushing his troops forward, showing why Liverpool recently gave him a new contract until June 2025. And, based on Sunday’s performance, it’s likely he’ll fulfill that deal.
Injuries and competition have restricted Oxlade-Chamberlain to just 91 Premier League outings since his move to Liverpool four-and-a-half years ago. At times he’s looked class in the heart of Klopp’s midfield but often finds himself making up the numbers as a squad player.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is capable of playing anywhere in midfield and on the right of a front three, stepping in to replace Salah against Brentford. The Englishman struggled to offer Liverpool the pace they needed to get in behind a stubborn defence, but he took his goal well with an excellent diving header.
“He arrived in the box, made sure he got between the posts and signaled to get it in there and it is a magnificent diving header,” ex-Liverpool ace Stephen Warnock told BBC Sport. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s afternoon ended shortly after he found the back of the net, limping out with a worrying muscular injury.
Right now, it’s unclear where his future lies. He has 18 months remaining on his existing deal and is unlikely to become a regular at Anfield any time soon. A transfer to a mid-table Premier League side – similar to the move Adam Lallana made to Brighton in the summer of 2020 – could be the best option for the 28-year-old.
Jones makes comeback
Curtis Jones made his first Premier League start since October after recovering from a nasty eye injury sustained in training. The midfielder will have been frustrated with his absence after breaking into the team last season, making 34 appearances in all competitions.
His performance on Sunday wasn’t his best, yet he remains a huge prospect and will only get better with experience – especially playing alongside Henderson and Fabinho. Reports suggest the Reds are interested in signing Borussia Dortmund teenager Jude Bellingham, a deal that could see Jones warming the bench next term.
The 21-year-old will be hoping to retain his place in Klopp’s team during the coming weeks and give his employers a reason not to make such an investment.
Although they didn’t return to west London with the points, Brentford gave a decent account of themselves at Anfield. The Bees were organized, committed, and showed glimpses of quality when given a rare opportunity by Liverpool.
It’s clear they belong in the Premier League, despite making a sloppy mistake for the third goal late on. Like all promoted teams, Brentford were tipped for relegation at the start of the season but have been a match for almost every side they’ve faced this term. Thomas Frank’s outfit have suffered just two defeats by three goals since their promotion and, considering some of the poor teams at the wrong end of the table, should comfortably survive.
A quick note on Brentford winger Sergi Canos, who came off the bench to make his first Premier League appearance at Anfield – five-and-a-half years after leaving Liverpool.