It’s that scoreline again. Down to 10 men, the substitute keeper in goal, the fabled attacking front three shut out and the key member of their midfield in Fabinho missing through injury, Liverpool somehow, some way managed to eke out a 2-1 victory over Brighton.
Virgil Van Dijk was the one who stood up to be counted on the day, notching a key first half brace which allowed his table-topping side to weather a shocking goal from the Seagulls’ Lewis Dunk and the resulting late flurry from the visitors.
Reds manager Jürgen Klopp was relieved after the final whistle, commending his side for overcoming a tricky affair:
“It was difficult this game because Brighton are a good football side,” Klopp said. “They put players between the lines. They put so many players there so it’s difficult to defend. They had a lot of possession and we had to work really hard. I loved that the boys were prepared to do that after a busy week.”
The key event was the straight card for Golden Glove winner Alisson, the Brazilian handling outside of the area in an attempt to close down a Brighton attack.
Already missing one of their other Brazilian in Fabinho as well as Joël Matip, it was truly a back-to-the-wall affair, particularly after referee Martin Atkinson decided to blow the whistle for the resulting free kick to be taken as substitute keeper Adrian was out of position still setting up his wall, allowing for Dunk to score in the opposite corner.
”I think it was handball but I haven’t seen it. There was no offside and then it is a tricky situation,” Klopp admitted regarding the Red card that will see his no. 1 miss Wednesday’s Merseyside derby. However the German chose to focus on the resolve Adrian showed to make key saves and see the team over the line.
“Adrian comes in with cold feet and cold hands but made two really good saves. The boys threw everything on the pitch. It’s unbelievable how much they want to win. They made it a really special win.”
The net mood is of course a positive one as Liverpool supporters around the world spend the rest of the day lowering their heart rates and reveling in their table-topping side pulling even further ahead after chasers Manchester City dropped points courtesy of ex-Red Jonjo Shelvey.
Now the race really gets going as the December crucible kicks off with the Merseyside derby on Wednesday. Bring it on.