Liverpool’s performance in defeat by Brentford was “not good enough”, says Andrew Robertson, after a string of defensive mistakes meant the Reds missed the chance to close in on the Premier League’s top four.
The Reds shipped three poor goals at the Community Stadium as Brentford ran out deserved winners.
In a desperate first half, Ibrahima Konate scored an own goal at a corner and, having escaped conceding two further goals at set-pieces because of offside decisions on video review, Liverpool fell two behind when a mistake from Harvey Elliott allowed Mathias Jensen to set up Yoane Wissa.
Reds boss Jurgen Klopp made a triple substitution at half-time and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain reduced the deficit but another error late on, this time from Konate, let Bryan Mbeumo in to seal the win.
The Reds, who would have gone within a point of fourth with a win, have now dropped 23 points this season – one more than in the entire campaign last season.
“With the fans sitting at home or on the bus back up to Liverpool, it’s not good enough for them,” defender Robertson said.
“We’ve spoken about consistency and things like that but we’re not getting it.
“It feels like we’re one step forward and one step back at the moment which makes it hard to climb the league table unfortunately.”
Brentford, meanwhile, are unbeaten in six games – their best run in the top flight for more than 80 years – and climb to seventh.
‘Another’ bad Liverpool performance
Liverpool’s defending was reminiscent of last week’s showing against Leicester when Klopp’s side ran out 2-1 winners, but were cut open on a number of occasions.
Konate was unfortunate with the first goal which flicked his calf, but that corner came from Mbeumo running clean through on the counter-attack and goalkeeper Alisson having to bail out the defence.
The disorganised visitors were all at sea at the two subsequent corners, fortunately surviving on both occasions as Wissa turned the ball home but his effort was ruled out as it struck an offside Ben Mee on the way in.
With the hosts fired up, the Reds made one mistake too many seconds later when Elliott lost the ball attempting a dummy in his own half from the restart.
They improved after the break, Virgil van Dijk one of those replaced with a hamstring injury, but in the 84th minute Konate should have been stronger when he was brushed off the ball by Mbeumo.
Speaking on Sky Sports, former Reds defender Jamie Carragher said Liverpool needed to spend “£200m” to compete at the top of the league again while Robertson, one of those to come on at half-time, criticised the entire team performance.
“First half we were second to every ball, no real runs in behind,” he said.
“We have to be first to the ball in the box, we have to be more aggressive in our own box, we have to prevent the corners in the first place and we didn’t do that.
“We could have conceded three goals in the first half.”
He added: “That performance [against Leicester] should have been a kick up the backside where we say, ‘right, we’ve won but now we need to put in a better performance’.
“Three days later we put in another bad performance. It’s about consistency, we have to do it.”
No Toney, no problem for battling Brentford
This was another special night under the lights for Brentford with victory against Liverpool added to vibrant home wins over Manchester United and Arsenal since their return to the Premier League.
It was also their first victory over Liverpool since 1938.
The win was even more impressive given the fact they were without top scorer Ivan Toney, who was not in the squad after being injured in their 2-0 victory at West Ham on 30 December.
It is only their second Premier League win without the striker since their promotion – and it took a team effort to help them triumph.
In the opening moments, centre-back Mee crucially cleared a Darwin Nunez effort off the line after the Uruguayan had rounded goalkeeper David Raya.
They rattled Liverpool for the rest of the opening period as they swarmed forward in attack and held firm when the tide seemed to be turning in the second half.
Klopp removed half of his defence – Van Dijk and Kostas Tsimikas – and sent on Naby Keita to add thrust in midfield.
But after Oxlade-Chamberlain converted Trent Alexander-Arnold’s inswinging cross for his first goal in a year, Thomas Frank’s men battled hard to deny Liverpool any further clear chances.
At the end, the Bees players and supporters wildly celebrated a win that has left them wondering how far this club can continue to rise.