Thomas Frank was quick to praise Liverpool in the build-up to his team’s clash with the Reds at Griffin Park.
Speaking before the weekend contest, the Brentford coach stated: “ Liverpoo l are fantastic at crossing, they are fantastic through the middle, they are fantastic at counter-attacking high and deep, and they are really good at offensive set-pieces so they hit you from every angle.”
The 47 year-old highlighted the reasons as to why Jurgen Klopp’s men are often so hard to beat, but Brentford came close on Saturday afternoon and highlighted a flaw from the past.
The Bees devised an attacking plan for the match which revolved around deliveries into the penalty box, but specifically towards the back post which was a unique take on how to gain inroads against the Reds.
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Each of the three goals that Liverpool conceded involved chaos at the back post, with Trent Alexander-Arnold struggling to manage the numbers around him.
On a regular basis, the full-back was surrounded by three Brentford players including Frank’s wide centre-backs at times, who joined attacks when permitted.
Ethan Pinnock scored their first goal, and Pontus Jansson played a major part in their second after hitting the bar, both of whom started in Frank’s back three on the day.
Virgil van Dijk in particular has resolved Liverpool’s inability to deal with aerial threats since his transfer from Southampton, after Klopp's side previously encountered problems against weaker opponents who were willing to hit long and use set-pieces.
However, on Saturday, Brentford's crosses largely avoided him, as shown below.
Klopp’s men rarely suffer from second balls, rebounds and moments of anarchy in the penalty box, but this was a reminder of life on Merseyside before Van Dijk's high-profile transfer.
As Brentford's approach became clearer, Liverpool had to commit to stopping crosses from wide areas, and Klopp's substitution of Curtis Jones for Roberto Firmino seemed to make that more difficult.
By adding a no.10 for a midfielder and switching to 4-2-3-1, the Reds lost an element of control in the middle and did not have enough of a defensive presence out wide within their own half.
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If Jones was scheduled to leave the field, it is reasonable to suggest that James Milner was a better solution than Firmino, as he would've retained the team's midfield trio while providing support for Andy Robertson.
As Liverpool sit at the pinnacle of England top-flight by a point after six matches of the campaign, they will hope that rival competitors fail to take note of Brentford’s back-post ploy.
If opponents begin to adopt the tactic, Klopp and the team will have to learn from their mistakes by stopping the crosses, and providing defensive cover in midfield.