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Liverpool’s defeat to Brentford shows why they have no chance of top four without new midfielder, says Jamie Carragher Happy new year #news #bbcnat

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Jamie Carragher believes Liverpool have “no chance” of finishing in the top four without a new midfielder after the defence that has been “a shambles all season” was cut through repeatedly in their 3-1 defeat to Brentford on Monday.

Jurgen Klopp’s side were overpowered by Brentford at the Gtech Community Stadium, missing the chance to move up the table and leaving them sixth in the Premier League. Their former defender feels a big improvement is needed to make the top four.

“That has been a theme of Liverpool all season,” Carragher told Sky Sports. “As soon as the intensity of a game rises they cannot cope. They need to play a slower type of game because as soon as it goes fast they are not at the races, they cannot keep up with it.

  • ‘Liverpool have to spend £200m’
  • ‘It is not a Jurgen Klopp team now’
  • ‘Absolutely unforgivable record’
  • ‘This result has been coming’

“Liverpool have had a problem all season against teams that are physical. This is a team, let us not forget, that prides itself on saying that intensity is our identity. They cannot cope with it anymore at this time. It looks like an ageing team coming to the end.”

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Highlights from Brentford’s 3-1 win against Liverpool in the Premier League

Although Liverpool’s success has been built on their impressive recruitment, Carragher is frustrated that the problems in midfield have not been addressed – and fears that they are turning into a team that he does not recognise as a result.

“I don’t know what has happened to Liverpool in terms of midfield. Liverpool have bought one midfield player in four-and-a-half years in Thiago. It is coming back to haunt them now.

“Thiago is not a problem if the other two are full of energy and stopping counter-attacks. People talk about Jude Bellingham but Liverpool don’t have a problem going forward, they need a player to stop the opposition coming right through them.

“Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho are great technical players but they don’t look like Jurgen Klopp players. Fabinho is getting older. Jordan Henderson has not got the energy of old, James Milner.

“The transfer committee and Jurgen Klopp have been lauded more than any scouting or recruitment department in world football. This is on them.

“To allow a team that was competing for four trophies last season to be fighting for top four because the midfield has only had one signing in four years, they are absolutely running on fumes. How has it been allowed to happen?

“They have signed Cody Gakpo. If Liverpool think they can make top four without signing a midfield player in this window they have got no chance.

“When I watch Liverpool now, and certainly in midfield, it feels like Jurgen Klopp’s team is morphing into something else.

“The only team it reminds me of is when I played against Arsenal under Arsene Wenger. Yes, they were a great football team. But their actual pace and physicality, teams could not cope with it. Then that team morphed into something really technical and they never won again.

“I don’t know if there is an influence from Pep Lijnders, who is Klopp’s number two and has a huge say in what goes on as well, maybe a Dutch way of thinking, getting players on the ball, thinking Liverpool need to keep tweaking things because people are used to them.

“For me, from minute one of Klopp’s era against Tottenham, teams were sprinting all over the pitch. When I don’t see Liverpool sprinting and closing down now and they are still playing with this high line it is like it is not a Liverpool team.

“It is not a Jurgen Klopp team now and I want to know why.”

‘Liverpool have to spend £200m’

Carragher believes the midfield problem will require significant spending in the transfer market if it is to be solved.

“Liverpool are going to need to go big in the summer. You think of what Manchester United and Chelsea spent in the summer and they are still not close so it shows you the funds you need to compete at the top of the league.

“Liverpool year in and year out have sold someone and bought someone but this is a case now where Liverpool have to spend £200m and I am not saying that because it is the secret of success. Lots of teams spend money and it does not necessarily work.

“Liverpool need to sign three midfield players, I would say. Not necessarily all to play. But Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are out of contract, so is James Milner. The age of Thiago, who is injured quite a lot, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho.

“Liverpool need three midfield players and they are going to be at least £40m or £50m each. As important as a Jude Bellingham is a Georginio Wijnaldum type who can protect the back four and stop people running through towards that defence.

We talk about Virgil van Dijk being one of the best in the world for five years and now we say he is not at his best. But I don’t think he is a completely different player. No matter how good you are as a defender but if you have not got protection then you have no chance.”

‘Absolutely unforgivable’

That was evident at Brentford, where Liverpool’s vulnerability was all too familiar.

“This is nothing new for Liverpool defensively. They have been a shambles all season. It is so easy it is to go through the middle of them. I think they have conceded more big chances than any other team in the Premier League this season, which is absolutely unforgivable.”

In fact, the statistics reveal that two teams in the Premier League have conceded more big chances – but neither of them are competing at the top end of the table. The difference between Liverpool and the rest of the top six is huge in this regard.

Klopp’s team have now conceded 51 clear chances in the Premier League this season. Incredibly, that is more than twice as many as any of the five teams above them in the table.

‘Happening three or four times a game’

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Ibrahima Konate own goal gave Brentford the lead in their win over Liverpool

Brentford’s opener was actually an own goal by Ibrahima Konate but it came following a corner that Alisson was forced to concede, having denied Bryan Mbeumo one-on-one. The striker had run behind Van Dijk and was through in the right channel.

“It is the first time that they have conceded a goal from a corner this season but it is not the first time they have been countered on and that is where the corner came from.

“I thought it was a lack of pace from Virgil van Dijk but he just did not sort his feet out. Van Dijk just was not ready for that ball in behind and then he is going from a standing start.

“Even when they were at their best, the opposition were going through once a game. Now it is happening three or four times a game. They have given themselves so much to do so often this season.”

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Yoane Wissa doubled Brentford’s advantage over Liverpool with a header

The second goal was header from Yoane Wissa, a player who had already seen two goals disallowed, the second of them just moments earlier. Once more, it was a familiar route to goal as he found space at the far post with Trent Alexander-Arnold not close enough.

“If you look at Trent Alexander-Arnold again at the back post, Ollie Watkins scored a goal like this against him for Aston Villa a couple of games ago,” explained Carragher. “He is in the wrong position, he is worried about what is behind him.”

Klopp made three changes at half-time and that helped a little.

“He had to make changes because it was an unacceptable 45 minutes from Liverpool. Andy Robertson, with his energy and his drive bombing forward on that left side, brought something within five minutes that was sadly lacking in that first half.”

But any hopes of a Liverpool comeback were undermined by another defensive error. Konate was uncharacteristically weak when attempting to fend off the attentions of Mbeumo and the Brentford man finished neatly past Alisson.

‘This result has been coming’

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Bryan Mbeumo shrugged off Ibrahima Konate to score Brentford’s third goal

“It was another example of where they were not able to cope physically. The big question was whether Brentford were going to get another one on the counter-attack. That has happened time and time again with Liverpool this season.”

Where does this leave Liverpool? The two victories prior to this may have masked their issues because Carragher felt they were fortunate to beat Leicester last week. “On Friday, Liverpool were lucky to come away with anything, really,” he added.

“This result has been coming. Liverpool have been picking up results without ever looking convincing. I feel like this sort of result is going to be there every four or five weeks. I don’t think this is going to change between now and the end of the season.

“They do look like scoring lots of goals, that is what I would say. But they do look like conceding goals as well. For the neutral, they are entertaining. But I still think Liverpool have got a lot of improving to do if they want to get that top-four position.”

Starting in midfield.

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