It was never going to be easy, was it? If you thought so you’re lying to yourself. I mean this both in the sense of today’s match but also the season at hand. Liverpool’s got their eyes on winning multiple shiny things in the Spring of 2022, but to do so they are going to have to manage the peaks and they valleys of a full campaign. We won’t know which of those drawing 3-3 with Brentford will be, but we definitely know how it feels in this moment. Feeling in the moment is all we have and it’s very important to evaluate.
It feels heavy, doesn’t it? You’re either frustrated with the defending or you’re frustrated with the attackers but drawing 3-3 with a newly promoted side isn’t meant to feel good, no matter how good that side may end up being. Brentford may well end up taking points off all four teams that finish top 4, including those that have plans on winning the league title. They took points off Liverpool today. We know that and we know that feels rough. It’s a frustrating result in the moment, as one more goal means the Reds get to go 3 points clear of Manchester City ahead of the huge clash next weekend. But that doesn’t happen and the doors are always sliding all the time and now Liverpool sit just 1 point clear ahead of City coming to Anfield next Sunday.
So, what will we make of it? We probably won’t know until April or May what this result means. But today we can evaluate what it means in this moment.
Winners and Losers
Liverpool did not end up taking the most advantage of the situation they found themselves in at kickoff, but they also didn’t completely screw up the opportunity. So it’s a wash a bit. There are four teams that think they can win the title this season. Only three of them have a serious case to be made for it (as seen by the fantasy contenders dropping points to Aston Villa at home). The other two serious contenders played each other today, with City playing Chelsea off the pitch at Stamford Bridge. City’s already had a fair share of disappointing league results and Chelsea were lucky to hold on to 1-0.
So, Liverpool had a chance to separate themselves today. They didn’t take full advantage but in context they didn’t completely throw away the chance. We won’t know what is what for some time, but not losing is better than losing.
A plan requires execution but a plan can be good even if the execution is poor. We’ll talk about the poor execution in a bit, but it’s wise to look into what the plan was to understand how it ended up being executed poorly.
There’s a macro and micro plan at play here. Jurgen Klopp tells the press and tv interviewers all the time that the Reds take games one at a time. Of course that’s total bullshit and cliche because a manager has to plan for a season. I think Jurgen’s plan for this season is to beat the piss out of the bottom ten teams in the league. Brentford are showing so far that they may not be one of those teams. The micro plan for this match broadly worked offensively, putting the best attacker in the league (Mo Salah) in a position to score a hat trick. The plan to give Curtis Jones freedom to attack also broadly worked.
Again, the execution was poor. We’ll get to that.
The Local Kid
This was an absolutely massive match for Liverpool’s own Curtis Jones. He took it by the scruff of the neck and made the most of it. With Naby Keita and Thiago hurt, Jones needed to show that he can be trusted in a match like this. It doesn’t hurt his case one bit that he puts Liverpool ahead 3-2 and comes off and then Brentford makes it 3-3.
The talk about the goal is deserved because it’s a massively impressive rocket. Shades of Gerrard, that. But the midfielder-y stuff he did was more impressive. He won his duels and sprung the attack. He was composed on the ball and didn’t force anything. He can be trusted to contribute this season.
So, the plan was good but it was executed poorly. It’s rare that happens with a Klopp managed squad, but it happens. Liverpool’s defense, with Virgil van Dijk in the side, rarely allow three goals, but it happens. Salah and Diogo Jota rarely miss the chances they miss today, but it happens. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson are rarely off their marks like they were against Brentford, but it happens. A lot of things went wrong today and most Liverpool fans, the manager, and the players think they should’ve won the match.
One thing in particular that was so frustrating was all 3 of Brentford’s goals came from very easy crosses into the penalty area. There wasn’t enough pressure on their providers. Just one stopped cross probably results in Liverpool coming away with three points.
What Happens Next?
This Liverpool team wants to and needs to win trophies. Those trophies can’t be won until the Spring but what happens in the Fall matters on the way to glory. They could’ve made it easier on themselves by beating Brentford, but it was never going to easy. There’s a 7th European Cup to be lifted and a 20th league title to be won. Two matches this week can define both of those things. There’s Porto away on Tuesday and a win there gives Liverpool 6 points in a tough Champions League group. Obviously, it won’t be easy because it’s not supposed to be.
Then, the big one. Manchester City comes to a full voiced Anfield in early October. The sun starts setting earlier and the air gets a little crisper. It won’t be easy for Liverpool but it won’t be easy for City either. What happens in the Fall matters and we can’t ask for more. We want to taste the glory in the Spring.
It’s not going to be easy but it’s going to be alive. What more can we ask for? Up the Reds.