Often renowned for their free-flowing attractive football, Thomas Frank’s Brentford showed a different side to their game in the 3-3 draw with Liverpool.
Going toe-to-toe with their more illustrious Premier League counterparts, the facial expressions of both Frank and Reds boss Jurgen Klopp at the final whistle symbolised the sort of game both managers had experienced – a captivating 90 minutes of breathtaking football that really could’ve gone either way.
Tactically astute, resilient and with an ever-pressing energy, Brentford’s performance sent a message to the rest of the league with Klopp even admitting afterwards, “they will get a few more points for sure.”
Brentford’s bravery to get the ball into the box as often as possible took Liverpool by surprise with the Bees’ 27th minute opener coming from a well-worked set-piece that ended with Ethan Pinnock poking home from close range.
Brentford’s lack of Premier League experience was then underlined in their inability to game-manage the situation after taking the lead with Diogo Jota equalising just four minutes later.
Similarly, Vitaly Janelt’s header to make it 2-2 after a scramble in the box not only reinforced Brentford’s never-say-die attitude but was again undone four minutes later by Curtis Jones’ long-range strike.
The stinging blow of Liverpool’s third should have been enough to keep the Bees at bay with less than half-an-hour to play but Frank’s subsequent formation change to 3-4-3 in search of another way back into the encounter proved decisive.
It allowed substitute Yoane Wissa to play on the left of a three and ultimately grab an equaliser that Brentford were more than good value for.
Of course, as is often the case when facing one of the top sides, the Bees had to ride their luck at times as well as call upon a number of individuals to produce stand-out performances.
Despite conceding three times, David Raya was excellent throughout, making a number of crucial saves at key points – particularly a miraculous one denying Jota a second just before the interval.
Had the Spaniard not pulled that one off, Thomas Frank’s half-time team talk would have been a lot different with the Bees’ head coach admitting afterwards: “He (David Raya) was really good today, making more saves than in any other game.
“I said to him beforehand we would need one or two big saves from him if we want to get something out of this game and he definitely stepped up and performed”.
It is also worth remembering that prior to this game, Liverpool’s defence had only conceded once (at home to European Champions Chelsea) but against Brentford, Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip were continually shaken by the pestering duo of Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo.
Although neither managed to find the net, the pair led from the front with their high-octane performance – Toney’s physicality and pinpoint passing continually by-passing Liverpool’s high line with Mbeumo’s blistering pace in behind, further wreaking havoc.
It was end-to-end football at it’s finest and although it was only one point more towards their ultimate aim of Premier League survival, the multi-faceted characteristics Brentford displayed will stand them in good stead to not only reach their target but also to smash it.