Jurgen Klopp is wary of the threat Brentford will pose to Liverpool in their first Premier League game of 2023 on Monday, even if there are doubts over the fitness of striker Ivan Toney.
Liverpool posted their fourth consecutive Premier League victory by overcoming Leicester City on Friday, with Foxes defender Wout Faes scoring two own goals.
Given the rapid turnaround before Liverpool’s trip to the Brentford Community Stadium – where they played out a thrilling 3-3 draw with the Bees last term, Klopp knows his team will need to be at their best.
“We have just two days and we don’t know exactly who can go again and stuff like this. But Brentford have the same situation,” Klopp said after Liverpool’s latest win.
“They are in a really good moment, I think. I saw big parts of the Tottenham game [on Boxing Day], a lot of things were really good.
“We had our problems before with the way they play, so we have to make sure we are ready for that. That’s all I’m concerned about at the moment.”
While Brentford impressed once again as they beat West Ham on Friday, the sight of top goalscorer Toney being carried off on a stretcher was a worrying one for coach Thomas Frank.
Toney has scored 12 Premier League goals this term, a tally only bettered by Erling Haaland and Harry Kane, and Frank was concerned about his condition following Friday’s game.
“Hopefully he’s okay,” Frank said. “I don’t know exactly how he will be against Liverpool, it’s unlikely he’s subbed off because of a knock or something.
“So of course that’s a little bit worrying, but I’ve been in the game long enough that we need to assess him.
“It could be nothing, it could be a little bit worse. It’s never a good sign, but we don’t know anything about it. It’s his knee.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Brentford – Bryan Mbeumo
With Toney’s availability in doubt, Mbeumo may have to carry the attacking burden for Brentford. The Cameroon forward’s tally of three Premier League goals from 30 shots this term is only bettered by Toney among his team-mates, and he has the ability to step up against the Reds.
Liverpool – Darwin Nunez
Nunez has had 23 shots in his five away Premier League appearances, attempting a shot every 17 minutes, although he has only converted two of those attempts (9 per cent). The Uruguay striker has earned plaudits for his displays over the festive period and could make his chances count on Monday.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Brentford are winless in their last nine meetings with Liverpool in all competitions (D2 L7) since a 2-1 home win in November 1938.
– Brentford have won their opening league game in each of the last three calendar years – only once before have they done so in four consecutive years, doing so between 1929 and 1932.
– In a run stretching back to October 1983, Liverpool have scored at least three goals in each of their last five meetings with Brentford in all competitions. The only team they’ve scored three or more goals in six consecutive games against is Fulham, doing so between 1986 and 2000.
– In all competitions, Liverpool have won 23 of their 49 games in the month of January under Jurgen Klopp (47 per cent), their lowest win rate in a particular month under the German. They have also lost more games in January during his tenure (14) than in any other month.
– Mohamed Salah has scored 19 goals in 38 Premier League appearances in London (two in nine games for Chelsea, 17 in 29 for Liverpool). He’s scored 73 goals on Merseyside (70 at Anfield, three at Goodison Park) and could become the second player to net 20 Premier League goals in both London and Merseyside, after Louis Saha (31 in London, 20 on Merseyside).