It might be time for Liverpool to call on Joe Gomez and reunite a champion partnership. The Reds struggled defensively against Brentford.
Liverpool should have beaten Brentford. They should have beaten them comfortably, in fact, as they scored three goals on a day when they couldn’t really finish.
Mohamed Salah should have had a hattrick. Diogo Jota missed a sitter or two and Sadio Mane could have had at least one. Instead, Liverpool only scored three.
Now, given Liverpool won their previous two games 3-0, that should have been enough. But they were uncharacteristically terrible in defence, shipping three very preventable goals.
Brentford’s first came from the Reds sleeping on a free-kick. Their latter two both happened the same way – overloading the far post and scoring from a knock-down.
But really, Liverpool’s centre-backs just weren’t at it. Joel Matip didn’t attempt a tackle in the game and won under half of his aerial battles.
Virgil van Dijk was better but only slightly. The way he bullied Ivan Toney away from a one-on-one earns him a lot of credit, though.
Liverpool cannot afford another performance like this over their next two games. Next is Porto on Tuesday and then Manchester City in a week.
So for us, it’s time to reunite Liverpool’s golden pairing and see if they can click together again.
Gomez & Van Dijk – champion pair
Joe Gomez and Van Dijk were Liverpool’s partnership when they won the title. The two were magnificently consistent and started last season well, too, before all the injuries.
We think it’s time to have a look at them again, starting on Tuesday. We imagine Klopp will rotate his centre-backs anyway, given the following game is against City, providing an opportunity.
Liverpool will want to steady the ship on Tuesday and find a rhythm again for Sunday. We think going with Van Dijk and Gomez is the best shot at that.
This isn’t us entirely writing off Matip – he could and probably should face City. But it’s well worth seeing if Gomez and Van Dijk can click instantly after Saturday’s struggles.
The three of them missed huge chunks of last season, after all, and inconsistency feels inevitable. Making sure that Gomez and Van Dijk are an elite fall-back option seems important, then, as Klopp balances his options.
The last thing Liverpool can afford is a lack of confidence this week. Knowing they have all their best defensive options available to them could be a vital boost.