Rico Henry looked uncomfortable from the start.
“What are you talking about?” is surely your inadvertent response. I urge you, should you feel like killing some time, to go and watch the replays of Henry’s face whenever the TV cameras decided to focus on him. From the very get-go, the man had a look on his face that bespoke of a fervent desire to get the hell out Anfield. He eventually picked up a knock and did just that at the half. I bet he didn’t mind. Brentford, as a team, is still trying to do what Liverpool is doing, just at a slightly lower level. The high lines? The high press? The rapid buildups? Check, check, and check. And it really has been working for them, looking (as they are) likely to remain in the premier league – just as it did when they clawed a surprise late draw from the Reds at the beginning of the season.
In the end, it was all Reds, all the way today. The scoreline was both reflective of the team’s domination, as well as how much it is hurting without Sadio Mane and, most critically, Mo Salah. Even more so than the games in which he is present, it is games like these that truly reinforce how remarkable is the Egyptian. You can see the moments when you just know that he would be there to create a massive threat, get on that pass, sprinkle some magic dust over the ball before slotting it home. Liverpool has to work that much harder to create better opportunities without Salah, because other players simply can’t match his ability to generate space for himself. And he does it even when double or even triple teamed by desperate opposition.
Combine that with this being January, and the game had poison written all over it before it started. In the end, it seemed like a routine affair, with both Trent and Robbo adding to their assist tally. It is only when you note the scorer list that it strikes you: Fabinho, Ox (whose injury will hopefully not be a significant one), and Minamino, whose goal came after a clear choice by Firmino to give it to him. That assist, and his obvious joy at Taki’s finish which could so easily have been his own, spoke so much of Bobby’s selfless nature. Bobby is special, and with those other two out, absolutely critical.
Which brings us to another very special player, who is my man-of-the-match. The quip about the mayor of Hendersville really never gets too old, and it was the reality today; Jordan Henderson pwned (ha) the area around the centerline. And in that, he was the spark for Liverpool’s engine. You had to actively watch for him, and for that matter Bobby, constantly doing their work off the ball, often in tandem. But if you did, suddenly everything would click in, and you could anticipate the next turnover. On top of the copious amounts of sweat, Hendo also shed personality all over the place, and in that, pwned (ha ha) Brentford.
The only thing that would have made this any better would have been Kaide scoring on his debut, but the youngster lost a bit of his nerve in that one-on-one. Still, it was lovely to see him starting at Anfield, and the goal would have likely been chalked off due to offside, anyway.
The dreaded January is almost over, thank goodness.
And with all that said, can some please explain this whole thing about Virgil smiling so much and so broadly these days?
Is he trying to out-Bobby Bobby?