Takumi Minamino seals comfortable win for Liverpool over Brentford

There was an extra edge, as well as an extra punch, to Jürgen Klopp’s trademark celebration in front of the Kop that reinforced his belief this was not merely a routine win for Liverpool. A gulf exists between themselves and Manchester City at the top of the Premier League but the fight, as embodied by Liverpool’s manager, goes on.

“We don’t have to convince anyone outside to believe. If they want to believe they can believe,” said Klopp. “If you are with us, you will enjoy the ride and we will go for everything. This is not the situation to talk about a title fight, it’s 11 points now with one game in hand. In a normal world nothing happens any more but what is normal nowadays? We try to do our part, there is nothing else to do.”

Liverpool leapfrogged Chelsea into second with an ultimately comfortable victory over Brentford, who made life awkward for their hosts but without the set-piece threat that underpinned the 3-3 draw when they met in September. This time it was Fabinho who prospered at a set piece to open the scoring. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Takumi Minamino, two players with added responsibility to improve Liverpool’s goals output in the absence of world class teammates, obliged with one apiece in the second half.

“The way Brentford play against us is really uncomfortable,” admitted Klopp. “If you want to or have to win the game you have to control the game but the ball was 20 minutes in the air.

“You have to be able to bring the ball down and from there you have to play and it’s really tricky. I knew before it would be a tough one and it was a tough game, which is why I am so happy we did so well.”

Fabinho’s goal a minute before the break lanced growing irritation with Liverpool’s performance around Anfield and punctured Brentford’s previously comfortable resistance. Liverpool were without Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mané in a Premier League game for the first time since the former’s arrival from Roma in 2017, and for 44 minutes it showed as the hosts increasingly resorted to hopeful crosses that suited the visitors’ three towering central defenders. A series of misplaced passes out of defence that gifted Brentford their brightest moments also added to Anfield’s anxiety.

The mood and the contest changed on the stroke of half-time. Trent Alexander-Arnold operated as an auxiliary forward at times as Liverpool pressed the visitors into a deep retreat and his corner provided the breakthrough. Brentford had defended impressively up until that point but, as the right-back’s delivery arrived in the six-yard area, it was allowed to bounce through to the back post where Fabinho held off Kristoffer Ajer and headed in from close range. Brentford’s afternoon deteriorated from that point, although Bryan Mbeumo was close to levelling early in the second half when turning away from Joël Matip and shooting narrowly wide of Alisson’s right-hand post.

Thomas Frank said: “I thought we played 60 very good…

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