SO whatever happened to the mentality monsters?
Instead there were ten green bottlers in Liverpool’s bottle green as feisty Brentford battered them with long balls and out-battled a team Jurgen Klopp used to claim were the masters of mental fortitude.
A corner deflected off Ibrahima Konate’s leg for Brentford’s openerCredit: Getty
Yoane Wissa’s brilliant header gave Brentford a two-goal leadCredit: Getty
Wissa scored just moments after he had a goal disallowedCredit: Getty
Darwin Nunez’s second-half strike was ruled out for a marginal offsideCredit: Getty
The Reds retreated from west London with bruised egos, weary bodies and their hopes of Champions League qualification in serious peril.
No ego was damaged more than that of Virgil Van Dijk – once hailed as the greatest defender on the planet but hauled off at half-time by Klopp, who made three substitutions at the break in a desperate attempt to repair his side from a fearful first-half bombardment.
Brentford found the net from all three of their first-half corners – two of them disallowed – but added a second legitimate goal just before the break to send Klopp into rage.
Van Dijk lost his aura when he suffered a horrific knee injury against Everton two seasons but now he is in danger of losing his place in the heart of Klopp’s defence.
At the other end of the pitch, Darwin Nunez remains chronically short of confidence, squandering two good chances and having another disallowed for offside.
As a result, Liverpool are four points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester United, who have a game in hand on Klopp’s men.
Brentford were excellent, even without their injured talisman Ivan Toney, scoring through an Ibrahima Konate own goal and strikes from Yoane Wissa and Bryan Mbeumo.
This place, in the shadows of the Chiswick flyover, is the new Stoke, the new Burnley – the place where all the big boys fear to tread on nights when the weather is brass monkeys and the leather rains down from the skies.
Brentford are unbeaten in six Premier League games, up to seventh in the table and dreaming of an improbable stab at European qualification.
There was no place in the Reds squad for £37million new recruit Cody Gakpo, while Brentford’s main man Toney was sidelined with a knee injury sustained at West Ham on Friday.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain did pull a goal back with a guided headerCredit: Getty
Nunez, targeted by chants of ‘You’re just a s** t Andy Carroll’ from home fans, was straight into the thick of it, receiving a cunning pass from Salah but his shot cleared off the line by Ben Mee.
But Brentford, as usual, had plenty of nuisance value – Wissa, Toney’s lively replacement, tried a saucy overhead kick but was denied by Alisson and an offside flag.
And it was Wissa’s cute through-ball which sent Brentford on the way to the opener as he released Bryan Mbeumo, whose shot was pushed by an on-rushing Alisson.
Mbeumo’s near-post corner caused chaos, brushing against Mee and cannoning in off Konate’s leg.
VAR official Darren England checked for handball against Mee but Brentford were in the clear.
Liverpool had been gifted two comedy own-goals by Leicester’s Wout Faes on Friday night, so perhaps this was payback time.
Klopp’s men were neat and tidy but not shy of hitting Nunez early.
And when the big man was surrounded by five Bees defenders he conjured a back-heel for the unmarked Kostas Tsimikas, whose shot was well saved by David Raya.
But Liverpool were panicked again by another near-post Mbeumo corner, Ethan Pinnock’s header stabbed over the line by Wissa, who was ruled offside.
Then the Bees found the net from a third successive corner – and this time it was England in Stockley Park who spotted the offside.
Bryan Mbeumo sealed the three points with a third goal late onCredit: Reuters
Mbeumo went deep and Wissa lashed in a shot but it had deflected in off Mee in an offside position.
Still, Brentford did not have to wait long for a second legitimate goal – Jensen’s cross met by Wissa’s downward header which crossed the line by inches before Alisson’s vain attempt to claw it to safety.
Liverpool were shell-shocked from their bombardment, Klopp lambasting Van Dijk from the touchline shortly before he hauled off the once-mighty Dutchman.
On the half-time whistle, Klopp scarpered to the dressing room, desperate to repair some damage, then he sent his troops out early with fleas in their eyes, rockets up their jacksies and three new faces.
And the changes – as well as the tongue-lashing – had an instant impact.
First Nunez latched on to a Thiago Alcantara through-ball, cut in from the right and lashed home only to be denied by a marginal VAR offside call – hugely frustrating for a striker so desperate for a goal.
But within a minute, Alexander-Arnold centred from the right and Oxlade-Chamberlain glanced home a header for his first goal in almost a year.
Was the comeback on?
Well, Nunez was still struggling, scuffing a shot well wide when he was released in space and booked for a temper tantrum of dissent soon after.
And late on, Brentford had their third – Thiago losing possession and Christian Norgaard delivering the long pass which sent Mbeumo one-on-one with Konate, who attempted to head back to Alisson but fell over under pressure allowing the Bees forward to net and the stadium to erupt in glee.