It was also a result which saw Liverpool head into the international break in second place. They now sit just a point behind leaders Manchester City, after the champions’ thrilling 4-4 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday evening.
History-making Salah continues to prove decisive
This was an afternoon that produced yet another landmark for the Egyptian forward, as his double took him onto 200 goals for English clubs (198 for Liverpool and two for Chelsea).
The 31-year-old is now also just one off 150 in the PL, which would make him only the 11th player to reach that total in the competition’s history.
Perhaps even more significant than the numbers, though, was the latest evidence of the No.11’s immense ongoing impact. These were two more big goals at big times, within another eye-catching all-round display.
The 39th-minute opener came at a point when it was beginning to look like the hosts’ growing first-half pressure may go unrewarded. Darwin Núñez had seen two efforts ruled out for offside, amongst other openings, and the Bees looked notably menacing themselves.
Salah was a picture of calm, though, as he controlled Núñez’s clever pass and sidefooted a superb finish beyond the dive of Mark Flekken and into the bottom-left corner.
Strikingly, that was already the ninth time that Núñez had assisted a Salah goal, having only become his teammate a little over 16 months ago. They’re striking up quite the rapport.
The crucial second, on 61 minutes, arrived within a spell of several Brentford openings.
While some in the visitors’ defence hesitated – hoping that the ball had gone behind for a goal-kick before Kostas Tsimikas delivered his excellent cross – the Egyptian remained focused on the task of guiding a well-directed header into the net to double the lead in front of a delighted Kop.
Tsimikas bounces back
The Greek left-back was another who made key contributions within a creditable individual display.
He had received plenty of criticism after being dispossessed prior to Toulouse opening the scoring in southern France on Thursday, but the 27-year-old responded productively here.
There was a better quality to his work on and off the ball. That he finished the day with two assists was a reflection of that.
The highlight of his afternoon was undoubtedly that fantastic delivery on the stretch which saw him just about keep the ball in play and give Salah the chance to nod home at the far-post.
Soon after, he was on hand to sustain an attack and find Jota on the edge of the box. The Portuguese proceeded to niftily work a shooting chance before he rifled a 20-yard effort inside the right-hand post to emphatically complete the scoring.
Tsimikas will need to sustain, and build on, this level after the international break if he is to continue to make a positive impact while Andy Robertson recovers from shoulder surgery.
The former Olympiacos man was a valuable source of width here, as Liverpool looked to work Brentford’s 5-3-2 out-of-possession shape – particularly the midfield triumvirate – from side to side.
That was reflected by the fact that the superb Virgil van Dijk completed 10 out of 10 long passes, with his average for the PL season so far at 5.3 accurate long balls per game.
The Reds struck an encouraging balance between patience and incision on this occasion, as they have in several of their better showings so far this term.
Doing so without injured midfielders Ryan Gravenberch and Curtis Jones, as well as the suspended Alexis Mac Allister, was additionally impressive. Wataru Endo and Cody Gakpo operated adeptly and energetically alongside Dominik Szoboszlai in the centre of the park.
That’s now nine wins out of nine at Anfield in all competitions at the start of 2023/24 – one of several positive signs as the campaign heads towards that typically frantic festive period.
Contrasting ruthlessness costs Brentford
They were, somewhat unsurprisingly, on the back foot for a decent proportion of this one, but Frank’s side often held their own.
Their Expected Goals of 1.68 to the Reds’ 1.71, according to SofaScore, demonstrates how 3-0 did, overall, feel harsh on the West Londoners.
Simultaneously, though, it did highlight how it was Liverpool who made the best of the key moments in and around both boxes.
There were, of course, the excellent finishes of Salah and Jota. But there were also sharp saves by Alisson Becker from Bryan Mbeumo, who was sent through superbly by Mathias Jensen at 0-0, and Ethan Pinnock’s late header, alongside key interventions from Joël Matip and Van Dijk – each of whom were admirably assured at the heart of the home defence.
Wastefulness could also be attributed to the Bees at times, alongside moments of defensive slackness. As Frank mentioned post-match, that was particularly evident in the moments prior to the second goal.
The approach and the application was largely at a level that could have very easily achieved a positive result. Turnovers were often well used, several set-pieces tested Liverpool and time and space rarely came easily to the Reds’ primary attacking threats.
Those observations, in themselves, highlight the fine margins in play at this level of the game.
Bees look capable of troubling most
With the aforementioned traits in mind, and the fact they’ve only recently beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Brentford certainly look a team and club who still have many reasons to be optimistic.
In the continued absence of the suspended Ivan Toney – who will likely either make a sizeable contribution to their season from January or earn them a substantial transfer fee sometime within that month – and the injured Rico Henry and Aaron Hickey, amongst others, they remain very much themselves and largely effective.
They’d won their last three league outings prior to this one and sit 11th after 12 games – only five points off sixth-placed Manchester United.
Arsenal’s visit to the Gtech Community Stadium in a little under a fortnight has a very interesting look to it. The Bees appear a team with a plan and, more often than not, they find a way to make life uncomfortable for whoever they are playing.
A little more efficiency when those key moments arrive – particularly against the strongest sides – will serve them well in future, but they’re unlikely to prove many clubs’ ideal opponents in the coming months.
That, in itself, suggests a mid-table finish, or better, could be on the cards for the West Londoners.