An eye-catching Premier League battle awaits at the Gtech Community Stadium on Monday evening as Brentford play host to Liverpool.
Thomas Frank‘s side claimed a 2-0 London derby win over West Ham United in their final game of 2022, while the Reds came from behind to beat Leicester City 2-1, despite not scoring any of the three goals on the night.
The joy of Ivan Toney‘s 12th Premier League goal of the season soon turned to concern for the Brentford talisman, who was taken off on a stretcher in the dying embers at the London Stadium after contributing to his side’s second successive top-flight away win.
Toney reacted quickest to prod home in the 18th minute and also played Josh Dasilva through to double the Bees’ tally just before the break, as West Ham were left to rue some wasteful finishing and the efforts of David Raya in front of their disgruntled supporters.
Ending a year of phenomenal progress in perfect fashion, Thomas Frank’s outfit are currently set to enter the New Year 10th in the table following Saturday’s fixtures, having been knocked down a place by Fulham after their success versus Southampton.
Scoring six goals in recent meetings with Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham should see Brentford’s forward line strike fear into the hearts of any backline, and only runaway leaders Arsenal have come away from the Gtech Community Stadium with all three points this season.
Since going down 3-0 to the Gunners, Brentford have strung together a four-game Premier League unbeaten run on their own patch, beating Brighton & Hove Albion but sharing the spoils in their last three with Spurs, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea.
With Jamie Carragher watching on in the gantry, Leicester centre-back Wout Faes – who had been a driving force in their spate of improved defensive performances before the World Cup – paid tribute to one of a handful of men to score two own goals in one Premier League game.
Leicester raced out of the blocks at Anfield on Friday – which is more than can be said for Liverpool – and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall put the Foxes ahead after just four minutes before Faes turned into his own net twice before the half-time whistle.
While Jurgen Klopp‘s men could not find their shooting boots, they were grateful that Faes had brought his, although their sixth-placed position in the table will not change between now and Monday, and the gap to the top four stands at four points at the time of writing following Manchester United’s win over Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Entering 2023 on the back of four successive wins in the Premier League, the Reds now set out to improve a paltry tally of just two wins from their last eight opening fixtures of the calendar year, but Klopp’s men have remarkably found the back of the net in each of their last 26 top-flight away games in London.
That streak includes an entertaining 3-3 thriller with Brentford in the 2021-22 season, but the Bees also conceded a trio of goals without reply at Anfield in a 3-0 defeat in January 2022 – extending their wait for a first win over Liverpool since November 1938.
Very few had any hope of Toney avoiding a serious injury after landing awkwardly on his knee against West Ham, but Frank has received the good news that his star striker has only suffered a minor muscular problem and could be available on Monday.
Toney may only be considered for a place among the substitutes anyway, while Kristoffer Ajer, Shandon Baptiste and Aaron Hickey, all of whom should not spend any longer than another couple of weeks on the sidelines, remain out.
Frank Onyeka and Thomas Strakosha are both thought to be in with chances of coming back into the fold, but only the one enforced change could be made by Frank, who should call upon Yoane Wissa to replace Toney from the off.
Brentford are not the only ones sweating over fresh fitness concerns, as Harvey Elliott and Andrew Robertson came off with knocks in Liverpool’s win over Leicester, although Klopp does not think that either man is nursing anything serious.
Whether the pair are rushed back less than 72 hours later is another question, while Arthur, Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz and Curtis Jones should all miss out again, but James Milner (hamstring) and Roberto Firmino (calf) could both recover in time.
Fabinho missed Friday’s game for the birth of his child but could now return to provide a much-needed presence in the engine room, and new signing Cody Gakpo will be eligible to make his debut on Monday.
However, Klopp is pessimistic about the club’s chances of completing the relevant paperwork in time, and as a result the Dutch attacker is unlikely to earn his first Premier League minutes just yet.
Brentford possible starting lineup:
Raya; Zanka, Mee, Pinnock; Roerslev, Dasilva, Jensen, Norgaard, Henry; Mbeumo, Wissa
Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Thiago, Fabinho, Keita; Salah, Nunez, Carvalho.
We say: Brentford 1-2 Liverpool
The Brentford attacking bite could certainly lose a good chunk of its effectiveness if Toney is not risked from the start, but Leicester proved how easy it sometimes can be to breach the high line of Liverpool – something Mbeumo and Wissa are sure to exploit.
The injury room is filling up once again for Liverpool, although Brentford could have also conceded one or two to West Ham on another day, and we have faith in Klopp’s side to bring their best shooting boots to the capital and extend their winning run, but it may not be pretty.