EFL

Championship: Brentford win again, Arter cuts down Forest

By Sports Desk July 07, 2020

Brentford and Fulham claimed crucial wins in the race for automatic promotion from the Championship, but a point apiece does little for Barnsley and Luton Town at the foot of the table.

With top two Leeds United and West Brom not in action, Brentford closed the gap after a late turnaround saw them record a sixth successive league win at the expense of Charlton Athletic.

Fulham boosted their own hopes of finishing in the top two with an away victory at Nottingham Forest, while seventh-placed Cardiff City slipped up at home as they lost 3-2 to Blackburn Rovers.

 

BEES KEEP ON BUZZING

Brentford's impressive streak appeared in serious danger when they trailed with 15 minutes to play at home to Charlton, Macauley Bonne giving the visitors an early lead.

However, after being fouled by Josh Cullen, Said Benrahma converted from the penalty spot before Ethan Pinnock's 85th-minute header secured all three points. The result leaves the in-form Bees on 73 points, just two behind second-placed West Brom.

Fulham are up to 71 points themselves after Harry Arter's superb long-range strike was enough for a 1-0 triumph at fifth-placed Forest.

Cardiff were beaten by a stunning goal from Adam Armstrong, who seized on a loose pass to lob Alex Smithies from long range. Rovers had previously fought back twice to draw level before their outrageous winner.

 

HALME HARMS LUTON'S HOPES

Luton remain stuck at the foot of the table after conceding a late equaliser against fellow strugglers Barnsley.

Luke Berry put the hosts ahead in the 13th minute at Kenilworth Road, following up after Elliott Lee had hit the post. Yet Luton's hopes of moving above their opponents were dashed six minutes from time, Aapo Halme prodding in an equaliser.

Meanwhile, Huddersfield Town kept a third successive clean sheet in a stalemate with Reading. The result leaves the Terriers three points clear of Middlesbrough, who occupy the final relegation spot.

Related items

  • Wijnaldum slams 'unacceptable' Everton after Van Dijk injury Wijnaldum slams 'unacceptable' Everton after Van Dijk injury

    Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum has blasted Everton's conduct as "completely unacceptable" following injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Thiago Alcantara sustained in Saturday's Merseyside derby.

    Van Dijk is likely to miss most of the campaign after suffering anterior cruciate ligament damage following a wild challenge from Jordan Pickford in the 2-2 draw at Goodison Park.

    With Van Dijk having been flagged offside, Everton's goalkeeper did not receive any punishment for the tackle, while the Football Association confirmed on Monday that Pickford would not face retrospective action.

    Premier League leaders Everton did subsequently have a player sent off, with Richarlison seeing red for a lunge on Thiago late on, and the former Bayern Munich star has not made the trip to Amsterdam to face Ajax in the Champions League.

    Richarlison's red card was the 22nd sending off in a Merseyside derby in the Premier League era, with the Toffees having had 15 players dismissed.

    The incidents left a sour taste for Wijnaldum, with the Dutchman believing Everton – who had four players carded on Saturday compared to Liverpool's two – have a track record of being too robust in derbies.

    "Of course we are upset. The way Pickford went in was completely stupid," he said.

    "I believe he didn't want to injure Virgil, but the way he took the tackle, he didn't care. I think we've had it a lot in the games against Everton.

    "In my opinion, they take it way too far in the games we play against them. Sometimes you go a little over the top, but this was too much.

    "We can talk about the tackle from Richarlison, it was also a nasty one. That's what bothered me the most. Accidents can always happen, you can be unlucky, but the way they were doing it was completely unacceptable. It makes it harder that they don't get punished."

    While Richarlison issued an apology for his tackle on Thiago, it was confirmed on Sunday that Van Dijk will require surgery and Wijnaldum acknowledged that the squad are hugely concerned for their star defender.

    "First of all we're still devastated, it's also different than normal. The way it happened is really hard for us," he added.

    "Everyone has a really bad feeling about it. When we were speaking with the players after Saturday I think none of the players slept because of what happened with Virgil. It's a really hard one to take.

    "People will say that because Virgil is really important part of our team. He had really big performances, a really important player for us, a leader.

    "It's quite normal people will say that, but it's up to us. It's a situation we didn't deal with before, but it's what we have to deal with. Everyone can see what kind of impact he's had."

  • Klopp hits out at Carragher as Van Dijk injury fallout continues Klopp hits out at Carragher as Van Dijk injury fallout continues

    Jurgen Klopp has hit out at Jamie Carragher for suggesting Liverpool took a risk by going into the new campaign with just three senior centre-halves.

    The Reds boss opted against bring in another central defender after selling Dejan Lovren to Zenit over the summer, preferring to ask midfielder Fabinho to occasionally operate as back-up to Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk.

    But, with the latter having sustained a serious knee injury during Saturday's trip to Everton, Klopp's options have already thinned significantly.

    That situation led Liverpool great Carragher, now a television pundit, to declare that his former club must enter the January transfer market to strengthen an area he believes was left "weak", with RB Leipzig's Dayot Upamecano his pick.

    However, Klopp has now angrily dismissed that assessment, and remained tight-lipped over whether the Reds are planning any January moves.

    Klopp said: "We went into the season with three centre-halves, Fabinho and young kids.

    "It’s difficult to have four world class centre-halves. It’s not a position you rotate. If anyone wants to tell us we made a mistake, I think Jamie Carragher. There is a reason why they don’t do this job, they do the other job.

    "It’s our situation. We will see how we react. We are still a little sensitive. We are in a completely different mood.

    "We know since yesterday our vice-captain and the best centre-half in the world will not play for us for a long time. For the future, I have no idea."

    Van Dijk's injury was the result of a poor challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, which was neither punished by the referee nor video assistant referee, or indeed retrospectively.

    Thiago Alcantara also ended up on the wrong end of a red-card tackle from Richarlison late in the same game, and Klopp was clearly still angered by both situations, expressing frustration that Liverpool have been the only ones left to "deal with the consequences".

    Speaking ahead of Wednesday's Champions League match at Ajax, which Thiago will also miss, Klopp said: "You judge us, you judge everybody. A couple of days ago something happened that should not have happened in a football game. And it’s not the first time. I see it similar to my players.

    "Both challenges were difficult to accept. What we all can do is try to change these kind of things. I spoke the day after, it’s really hard for us, yes he’s a world-class player, injuries happen.

    "In the last four years, we were the leader of the fair play table. People make a joke about it.

    "In this game, a few things came together. I have to say, first the ref didn’t see it. Michael Oliver, I don’t understand – he had the best view. VAR forgets the rules.

    "As a human being, it’s not that I want a player to be punished, but it’s something we all agree on, you have to deal with the consequences. At the moment, only Virgil and Thiago have to deal with the consequences.

    "You keep all these stories up, I’m here for a Champions League. But you asked these questions. We didn’t do anything wrong in the game, or since then, but our players are the ones that suffer and it doesn’t feel right.

    "We all accept injuries can happen, but it should be in a normal challenge."

  • How does Upamecano compare to Liverpool's defenders amid transfer talk? How does Upamecano compare to Liverpool's defenders amid transfer talk?

    Liverpool may need to make a January move for a centre-back after Virgil van Dijk's serious knee injury. 

    The Premier League champions were dealt a huge blow with Van Dijk set to miss most - if not the remainder - of the season after a tackle from goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the Merseyside derby draw against Everton. 

    Liverpool have been left with just two senior centre-backs – Joe Gomez and Joel Matip – with Van Dijk's injury, although defensive midfielder Fabinho can also provide cover. 

    Unsurprisingly, there have been transfer rumours in the aftermath, with the Reds linked with RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano and Brighton and Hove Albion centre-back Ben White. 

    Having joined Leipzig from Salzburg for a reported €10million in 2017, Upamecano re-signed earlier this year, but he apparently has a €42m release clause in his contract – although that can only be triggered at season's end. 

    Upamecano is highly rated in Europe and, using Opta data, we assess how his performances compare to Liverpool's defenders.

    Bright future awaits, but would Upamecano improve Liverpool?

    Upamecano, 21, helped RB Leipzig finish third in the Bundesliga and reach the Champions League semi-finals last season.

    The France international's tackling numbers were particularly impressive when compared to Liverpool defenders Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip.

    In the Bundesliga last season, Upamecano had 1.95 tackles per 90 minutes – with Matip (1.66 per 90 in just nine Premier League games) the closest of Liverpool's trio. However, only Van Dijk (52.2) had a worse tackle success rate than Upamecano (58.8), with Gomez and Matip both above 69.

    In the Champions League, Upamecano had 3.4 tackles per 90 minutes , well above Van Dijk (1.08) and Gomez (1.59), and also at a better rate (56) than the Liverpool trio. Matip, often injured in 2019-20, played just 90 minutes in total in Europe's top club competition last season.

    Ready to do battle

    Upamecano contested the most duels (87) of the four in the Champions League, and went at a success rate of 71.26, similar to Van Dijk (70 duels and 74.29 success rate), while he also had a comparable number of headed clearances per 90 minutes (2.04 to Van Dijk's 2.28) and interceptions (1.63 to 1.08). Gomez had 2.64 interceptions per 90 minutes in the Champions League last season.

    Van Dijk's absence will also hurt Liverpool aerially, with the Dutchman an imposing figure in Jurgen Klopp's back four.

    Upamecano, who stands at 186cm, was between Van Dijk and Gomez when it came to aerial duels last season. He won 18 of 27 aerials in the 2019-20 Champions League, a rate worse than Van Dijk (33 of 47) but better than Gomez (24 of 41).

    It was a similar story in the respective leagues, although he contested fewer than Liverpool defenders. An area Upamecano fell short in, at least domestically, was in being dribbled past by an opponent, which happened 20 times in 28 Bundesliga games, a figure ranking him below both Van Dijk (seven times in 38) and Gomez (11 in 28), but ahead of Matip (seven in nine). 

    Boosting Liverpool's build-up play

    A problem set to be exacerbated by Alisson's injury absence, Van Dijk's passing ability in defence is also important to how Liverpool function.

    In this area, Upamecano may offer the Reds the most. In the Champions League last season, his passing accuracy in the opposition half was 83.1 – higher than the Liverpool trio, including Van Dijk (82.7). When it came to passing accuracy ending in the final third, Upamecano again topped the list (74.1), ahead of Gomez (71.6), and that included averaging 11.7 passes into the final third per 90 minutes.

    In domestic action, Upamecano also topped the list in these categories, and his passing accuracy in the opposition half to begin this Bundesliga season is 84.7, while Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip have all dropped off from last season in this area.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.