Liverpool started well yet again, scoring two goals in the first 25 minutes. Rather than running away with the game like they did last week, Liverpool struggled to stamp their mark on the game as it progressed, and Brighton made the Reds pay with some great ball movement and smart pressing. While a draw is probably fair on the balance of things, it will surely sting to drop points at home in a tight title race.
Liverpool have made a habit of finding the back of the net recently. Today was no different as Mohamed Salah found Jordan Henderson for a goal in just the fourth minute. Alex Oxlad-Chamberlain delivered a sumptuous cross for Sadio Mané to head home 20 minutes later to give Liverpool a 2-0 lead. This was the 4th game in a row (featuring the senior team) that Liverpool have scored within the first 10 minutes of the match.
The Senegalese striker showcased his all-around game today. He was dangerous on the dribble, and sprung several counters down the left. He finished off a goal, and unfortunately had a second chalked off by VAR after his press of the keeper led to the ball caroming off of his arm and into the net. Sadio also had a great defensive header, sprinting to get to the back post and flick the ball away ahead of an unmarked Brighton player.
Midfielders were instrumental in both of Liverpool’s goals, with Jordan Henderson scoring the first and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain assisting the second. Despite that, the midfield had a rough day overall. Naby Keita went down injured in the first half, and Ox struggled to have a consistent impact on the game despite the assist. He and Curtis Jones lost the ball in bad spots too many times, and the overall struggled to cover the spaces they needed to cover in transition. They were also overeager to get involved in the attack at times, leaving too big of a gap behind them when the ball was turned over. This lead to several of the 5v4 and 4v3 breaks in Brighton’s favor. Let’s hope Fabinho and Thiago are back soon, their presence against teams that move the ball quickly and press well is greatly missed.
The Brazilian put on a masterclass against Manchester United last weekend, but he struggled against Brighton today. Bobby struggled with his touch today, and lost the ball on several occasions. He also missed a great opportunity early in the game after being slipped in 1v1 by Mohamed Salah. Brighton also were smart with how they handled Firmino, leaving Yves Bissouma to stick with him, letting the center backs hold their shape behind them.
Look, Ibou wasn’t terrible today, he just wasn’t great and showed his inexperience at times. While supremely gifted from a technical and physical perspective, the young center back showed a tendency to chase the play in front of him at times, leaving gaps in behind him that Brighton were happy to exploit.
Credit To The Opposition
Unlike Liverpool’s opponents last week, Brighton showed that they were a well drilled side, and didn’t lose their heads after going down early. They made some tweaks and began to gain control of the game. Brighton showed their trademark quick out-to-in ball movement in transition to carve open Liverpool’s defense quite a few times. They also did a very nice job of setting traps for Liverpool on the press, forcing Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in particular into difficult positions deep in their own half.
What Happens Next
Liverpool will take on Atletico Madrid at Anfield on Wednesday in the start of the Champions League group stage reverse fixtures. A win in this game will guarantee Liverpool a spot in the knock out stages. The Reds will then go to London to take on West Ham next Sunday in their next league match.