Brentford vs Liverpool (3-1): Tactical Analysis – Premier League 2022/23

Brentford vs Liverpool (3-1): Tactical Analysis – Premier League 2022/23

  • Tactics
  • January 12, 2023
  • No Comment

Usually, when Liverpool and Brentford meet, a goal glut is seemingly on the cards. That tradition didn’t disappoint at all when the Bees welcomed the Reds at the Brentford Community Stadium on the 2nd of January.

It was the first game of 2023 with both sides wanting to begin the new year with a win. Thomas Frank laid out his lineup setting up in their typical 5-3-2 but without their leading man, Ivan Toney, who was replaced by Yoane Wissa. Liverpool meanwhile fielded a similar side to the one which beat Leicester with Robertson and Matip on the bench for Tsimikas and Konate in Klopp’s preferred 4-3-3.

Although it was a 4-3-3 on paper, the line-up didn’t result in a rigid, typical Liverpool 4-3-3. With Oxlade Chamberlain and Salah on each wing, and with Thiago and Eliott playing interior to a deeper deployed Fabinho, it was a structure that was expected to be very fluid.

Salah often drifted infield to form a strike duo along with Darwin Nunez and Thiago dropped into a double pivot alongside Fabinho while both Trent and Tsimikas strode on forward down the flanks.

The game kicked off and played out as expected. Liverpool dominated possession but Brentford’s very agile 5-3-2 mid-press allowed Liverpool to keep the ball with their backline at ease but made progression very tough. 

Both Trent Alexander-Arnold, Tsimikas, and especially either of the interiors i.e. Thiago & Eliott were pressed intensely up the field, causing turnovers in Liverpool’s half.


To counter this, Thiago began to drop deeper into Liverpool’s midfield, forming a double pivot with Fabinho. Thiago was one of Liverpool’s best players on the night, and easily the Reds’ most creative spark.

Brentford are a physical team and as the cliche goes for such teams, Thomas Franks’ side maximized their output by playing their physical advantage to the maximum. In this case, specifically, Ben Mee.

Mee stepped into midfield often at goal-kicks and throw-ins on the left in an attempt to secure the first ball for the home side. An attempt that often worked well for Brentford.

Darwin Nunez was a constant livewire against Brenford’s three-man defence giving them a lot to worry about. Especially in transition; Nunez’s anticipation and timed runs often left Brentford struggling to catch up. The Uruguayan deserved at least a goal for his toils and should have been on the scoreboard too, if not for Ben Mee popping up yet again at the right place, at the right time.

Although he didn’t have much part in it, it was Mee who was near Konate when the ball ricocheted off the Frenchman and flew into his own net to provide Brentford with the 1-0 lead in the 19th minute.

Liverpool dominated the ball, averaging just about 76% possession, and were structured to ‘smother’ Brentford when they had possession. The shape allowed the Reds to rotate possession and progress the ball better; but left a poorly structured defence of just the 2 center-backs running back under any sort of counter-attacks. Not the approach you would want to take against Brentford who are the most direct team in the league.

Although they created the better share of opportunities and chances at the onset, Liverpool failed to take the lead and Klopp’s men struggled in front of goal & from set-pieces.


Brentford’s idea to attempt a near-post flick-on from inswinging corners caused havoc in the box, something which Liverpool never really coped with. If not for the offside flag and VAR, Yoan Wissa could’ve had a hattrick.

It was third time lucky for Wissa though; pouncing onto a recycled set-piece delivery and finding space in front of Trent to score the second for the Bees.

Klopp sent out his XI with 3 changes at halftime. Keita came on for Eliott, Robertson came in for Tsimikas & Matip on for Van Dijk. These were the first minutes that the Dutchman had missed for Liverpool in the Premier League season so far.

The changes did make a difference in terms of tempo and Liverpool became much more direct in offensive transitions with Salah and Nunez constantly running in behind being fed through by their midfield.

Nunez scored a brilliant goal on the counter only to be called offside yet again. Brentford’s press dropping deeper also played into Liverpool’s hands as they gained more control over the half spaces.

The distance between the defensive line and midfield line when Liverpool were in possession seemed to be much narrower in the second half as compared to the first, making their counter-press way more effective. Soon enough, Liverpool found their goal from a delightful Trent Alexander-Arnold cross, nodded in by Oxlade-Chamberlain. 


Liverpool structured a bit differently in possession in the second half, playing almost a 2-2-2-4 while attacking. It allowed them more stability on the ball and in their defensive transitions, but yet again they failed to make any significant threat out of it.

The only real threat came from Liverpool’s right; from where Trent’s quality on the ball proved to be one of the only consistent ways by which Liverpool managed to enter Brentford’s box.

This same pattern followed for the rest of the game as Liverpool dominated possession, but this time in much more meaningful offensive areas, while Brentford held on looking for a chance on the counter, and one such opportunity did fall for them.

Keita was caught on the ball by Brentford’s sharp midfield and the following long ball found Mbuemo who was in a 1 v 1 battle against Konate. Konate lost his footing & fell to the floor and Mbuemo was then free on goal, and he duly converted. And that was Brentford 3 Liverpool 1.

This was the 5th loss of the campaign for Jurgen Klopp’s men as they stay in 6th with 28 points, 5 points adrift of Tottenham in the Europa League places. Meanwhile, Brentford themselves could dream of European football next year, coming within just 2 points of Liverpool at 9th.

Also read: Cody Gakpo – Transfer Report: A Perfect Fit For Liverpool

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