Brighton 0 - 1 Liverpool
Liverpool: Salah 50’
Perhaps if you polled the 10, 20, 50, or 100 fans to sum up today’s 1-0 Liverpool victory over Brighton in one word, a majority of them would answer with: Professional. I know that’s my answer. In every facet of the game, Liverpool were the better side. Brighton never threatened Liverpool to be sure, but the Reds put in a performance of complete control.
Ask those same set of fans to sum up the first half in one word, and they’d all say: Boring. And that’s okay. It was boring. In a way, boring was exactly what Jurgen Klopp and the Reds needed. Heading into this match, there were some questions about how Liverpool would get on with only one healthy central defender. Klopp could’ve gotten weird with his solution, as he did last season when he slotted Gini Wijnaldum and Emre Can into the backline. Instead, he chose the more sensible option by playing Fabinho at the back.
Liverpool controlled the first half by constantly attacking down the left flank, either through Andy Robertson or Sadio Mane. This could’ve been because Trent Alexander-Arnold picked up a knock in the warmups, or it could’ve been because that’s the side Brighton allowed Liverpool the most freedom. Either way, Liverpool created chances and asked questions of Brighton. It was almost like the manager was collecting important sets of data that he’d later use to unlock Brighton’s defense. That’s exactly what happened later on, but we’ll get to that in a second.
If you’re like me and are addicted to the internet, you probably watch the game while also following along on one or more social media sites. Per usual, when Liverpool don’t put 5 past an opponent in the first 90 seconds of a match, fans get a bit nervous. It’s completely understandable, we’re used to Liverpool not being able to unlock a team that sits deep and we’re used to Liverpool getting frustrated and antsy. This usually results in a lot of 30 yard shots and what not. But it’s about time we as fans get used to this new Liverpool. It’s a more patient and confident Liverpool. They know they’ll eventually break down a side, and we should know that too.
The patience and confidence were rewarded early in the second half when Mohamed Salah won a stone cold penalty by being pulled down by Pascal Groß in the penalty area. Salah then stepped up to the spot and made it 1-0 in the 50th minute. According to Andrew Beasley, 9 of Salah’s 14 league goals have been the first goal in the match. His move centrally has definitely changed his game, as he’s not “running down the wing” as much, but he’s become a more more clinical and important player.
Oddly enough, the second half ended up being the more free flowing affair that the nervous fans wanted to see. Once Brighton went 1-0 down, they were forced to open up to try to get something from the match. That, in turn, allowed Liverpool’s attack to open up and find space all over the pitch. The match ended 1-0, but Liverpool could’ve easily scored a couple more goals. Gini Wijnaldum puts a shot just wide. Mane was dangerous until he came off. Salah had a header go wide. Brighton only really looked dangerous after the 80th minute or so. Even then, the result was never in doubt.
On some individual performances, then. Fabinho was excellent in his unfamiliar role at the back. Hell, it’s not entirely impossible you or I would make a decent center half playing along side Virgil van Dijk. The midfield two of Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson worked very well and was the axis of Liverpool’s control in the match. Neither will get the man of the match award for their performance today, but it should be noted how well they played. Trent deserves credit for gutting out a full 90 minutes with his ankle injury. Tough kid.
As much as we want every match to be a full throttle display of the dominance of the Mighty Men in Red, the reality is that if Liverpool are going to win the league come May, it’s going to have to be built on results like today’s. Comfortable and controlled. When the best doesn’t have to be the absolute best. Good enough is good enough. All the cliches.
Liverpool will end match week 22 with 18 matches won, drawn 3, and only lost 1. That’s good enough for me. Is it good enough for you?
Up The Comfortable & Controlled Reds.