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Liverpool v Brighton & Hove Albion A Liverpool Perspective
A bad night for Liverpool. Their play was laboured, the midfield looked tired and the attack unbalanced with everything having to go down the right. It was not like there was a huge drop off from the previous game, but it was just a little slower and the lack of options in midfield really showed. It was not as bad as some seem to think, Kelleher had little to do all game, despite the makeshift defence and tired midfield. The big problem was the lack of goal chances that Liverpool were creating.
A large part of that was down to Brighton defending well, putting their bodies on the line for the cause. Most of it was down to a lack of movement and an attack that had no fluency at all, aided by sloppy passing. For all that, they were relying on luck to keep Liverpool out at times, particularly their goalkeeper, who made a few silly errors that could easily have cost them on another day.
Brighton & Hove Albion
I am sure Graham Potter will be thinking it is about time that his team got the points their performances have deserved, as, despite not really creating all that much and their goalkeeper trying his best to gift a goal to Liverpool, Brighton were very good. They keep the width very well and look to play down one side to draw the opposition over and quickly switch it to the other side to utilise the overload they now have there.
They also use Dan Burn very well, to push right up on the defence and kick it up to him from goal kicks, knowing there is a 90% chance he will win the battle with his extra height. They then look to build from there in a very similar way to how Wolves would use Doherty on the right flank in recent seasons. That was a way they looked to play on the missing Fabinho in midfield, as he would normally be the one challenging for those, allowing the defender to back off.
If this Brighton team could get itself a decent striker, instead of the Championship-level Maupay, to provide a genuine goal threat, they would be safely top half and pushing for a European place. Potter is building something there that is very enjoyable to watch, defensively sound, works hard and creates chances (usually) consistently. They just need to stick with him and find him someone like a Danny Ings to score the goals for them.
Klopp – I know his options are limited, but there were some mistakes there from Klopp. Putting Firmino on Bissouma when defending was a particular one as it meant the Brazilian was always within reach of Bissouma when he got the ball. It also meant he was too deep when receiving it and not in position to draw out a defender the way he usually does. With Shaqiri offering almost nothing and the midfield struggling to get forward, it was clear, with hindsight that is, that this was a game too far for the midfield.
It is just a shame that he was not able to have that hindsight and could only see the game from the perspective of a midfield going into it playing well in the last match and wanting to build on that. Added to that the lack of options up front with Jota and Mane out bit back. Origi has shown he is not the answer on the left, Jones failed to impress in the more forward role, Minamino was not given a chance and is now out on loan, so now it was Shaqiri’s turn to try to fill in. He also flopped there. Maybe the answer would have been to change from the tried and trusted front 3 to a 2? too late to know now if that would have helped though.
Kelleher – had very little to do, but made one good save and swept up a couple of times behind the defence. Possibly, if I was being really harsh, he could have done a little better on their goal. Personally though, it is not him I would put the blame on for it.
Alexander-Arnold – was one of the main threats in the game, it is just a shame that he is putting ball after ball into the box and no one is reading where they have to go. Right now he is back to being one of the main attacking focal points but he is not being helped by the rest of the team. No one is attacking the edge of the box for cutbacks, no one is getting in at the back stick to look for a lifted ball. I am not sure what more he can do unless he runs past the cross to get on the end of it as well!
Phillips – did well in the main but could do nothing up against Burn from the goalkicks. He has let no one down at all.
Henderson – while he also lets no one down at the back, and in fact is a very decent centre-back, it is the loss of his drive and leadership in midfield that is missed most. When he was bawling out Shaqiri for not moving, that would have been far more effective if he was nearer to him, rather than 40 yards away.
Robertson – tried to get forward as much as possible and did some good work at times, but he was basically on his own down the flank for the full 90 minutes. It is little wonder he was not as effective as normal.
Thiago – no good having a player with his quality in midfield if you are not going to give him movement to play the ball in to.
Milner – looked shattered and was clearly hampered. That led him to a lack of effectiveness and his usual drive was missing.
Wijnaldum – he was terrible apart from one forward driving run. Other than that he was out of position constantly, turned over the ball by trying to hold on to it far too long, often in dangerous areas and stood watching while Brighton built their attack and scored. He never offered himself as an option to receive a pass and did nothing to protect the defence either. It was the worst game I can remember seeing him play for Liverpool. He was playing so well for a while but now he is just offering absolutely nothing. I am not sure if he even understands what he is meant to be doing right now, standing on the edge of the box with his hands in his pockets while Brighton flood the box with bodies is certainly not what he should be doing. It is little wonder he was hooked off early. He is simply not suited to playing the deep role and he needs to be back in a position he understands and is suited to.
Firmino – needed to push further forward and play on the centre-backs in this match. He showed some great skill to get a shot off at one point, but his finishing is still letting him down at the moment. Was hindered badly by having Shaqiri in the attack as they operate in the same areas, getting in each other’s way and allowing the defence to shut htem down too easily. Moving to the left for the second half helped a little, but it was not a good day for him.
Salah – gave Brighton problems with his movement and looked sharp, but he should have hit the target early on and after that he was never given the same space again. Kept going but he needed help up there, which was not forthcoming.
Shaqiri – had an awful game. Struggled to get involved because he did not do enough.
Origi – replaced Shaqiri in the 64th minute. As usual he was too slow to react when there was an opportunity to make something happen or put pressure on the defence.
Oxlade-Chamberlain – came on in place of Wijnaldum in the 64th minute. He offered more than Wijnaldum had been doing, he linked up the play and tried to make runs and shoot. It was not enough but at least he offers himself as an option to the man on the ball, rather than just doing a Peter Kay-style man jog to ensure he is out of sight behind an opponent.
Jones – was brought on in place of Firmino in the 78th minute. Tried to get involved and make things happen but it just was not coming off for him this time.
Written by Tris Burke February 04 2021 11:25:26