Brighton 1-1 Liverpool: Winners and losers as VAR controversy ruins another Reds game

Despite the poor performance from Liverpool, VAR will once again be the main talking point after another miserable rendition. OLIVER LAWRENSON picks out the Reds’ winners and losers from the game.

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Liverpool capped off a poor week at the office with an uninspiring performance at the Amex. The Reds will be thoroughly disappointed with their display, as they failed to establish any dominance during the game, eventually walking away with a point. 

The draw sees Klopp’s side open the door for several teams to take advantage and gain ground over the remaining of the weekend, whilst Klopp will once again rue the intervention of VAR, which ruined another Premier League game. 

To further compound the Reds frustrations, James Milner suffered a hamstring injury which looks set to keep the midfielder out for a month or so. On top of this, the news that Thiago Alcântara and Oxlade-Chamberlain are still a couple of weeks out from returning, further intensifies the pressure on the squad. 


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With everything going against Liverpool, it is a testament that they currently find themselves were they are in the league table and Champions League. However, it is coming to the all-important festive period and with the Reds seriously struggling for a matchday squad, there biggest test could be yet to come. 

The German made seven changes from the side that lost to Atalanta on Wednesday evening. Alisson, Salah, Wijnaldum and Milner all kept their places, whilst Neco Williams, Nat Phillips, Fabinho, Andy Robertson, Takumi Minamino, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota returned to the starting line-up. 

Here are my winners and losers from the game:

Winners

Jordan Henderson

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Once again, he set the standard and showed what is expected from a Liverpool player. Even though the skipper only came on at half time, he was head and shoulders above every other player on the pitch. His calmness and composure were infectious and provided an extra layer in front of that fragile Reds back four. 

His introduction freed the other midfielders to push up the pitch, whilst the wingbacks were more adventurous with his involvement. This proved extremely valuable as Robertson was allowed to join Jota in attack and help in the build-up to the Portuguese forwards goal. 

It has now got to a point where he is that valuable, the team cannot function at their efficient best without him. He is the lynchpin that pulls everything together. The key ingredient in the side. Without him the team look completely lost at stages of a game. 

His return from injury has come at the perfect time with James Milner now out of action for the foreseeable future. With the busy Christmas period now upon us, it is important he stays fit throughout. With him being a mainstay in the midfield, even with large number of injuries, it is unlikely the Reds will drop many points.

Losers

Takumi Minamino

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After getting the nod from the start, it was a major opportunity for Japanese international to show how he has improved since lockdown. He managed 90 minutes but that was as good as his game got after a pretty forgettable display. 

With his surprise inclusion from the start, many thought Klopp had seen something from the 25-year-old in training recently that he was looking to unleash. Unfortunately, after ten minutes it was abundantly clear that it would be a long game for the former RB Salzburg man as he lost every tackle with his midfield counterpart Yves Bissouma.  

He continued his rotten form for the remainder of the game losing possession on countless occasions, looking physically weak in every battle and lacked any creativity. The latter rung extremely true even when he was pushed into his preferred advanced position. He looked the shadow of the player who played and impressed against Liverpool this time last year. 

His Anfield career has been a forgettable one so far, but with injuries all around him his game time could increase over the coming weeks. There is hope that with regular time in the starting eleven, his performances could improve and become more consistent. However, this needs to happen sooner rather than later otherwise he could see his career on Merseyside diminish completely.

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Neco Williams

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Poor Williams. The young man has had a tough time recently and unfortunately continued his dire form against Brighton on Saturday lunchtime. His 45-minute cameo was a tough watch, as he was caught out of position several times and gave away the first half penalty with a rash tackle on Neal Maupay. 

Even after the penalty he continued to struggle. His relationship with Salah down the right-hand side clearly needs working on. The lack of communication between the two was non-existent, with several missed passes and Williams not taking advantage of Salah’s runs in behind. 

Despite all of this, Neco Williams is a young man. He is only 19-years-old. Fans need to give him a break and realise that. We have been blessed with a once in a generation player in Trent Alexander-Arnold. Williams is a completely different player and should be given time to develop. He shouldn’t be judged against the Englishman in any way. 

Neco has the attributes to be a top right back. He just needs the experience to make him into the excellent player Liverpool clearly see in him. A loan spell might be a good option for him in the future but, with the current injury situation, he is paramount to the plans of the club this season. So, Reds please get behind the young man and support him.

VAR

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Obviously.

Unfortunately, it has taken centre stage once again. The system itself is not being utilised properly, whilst the individuals using it continue to make glaring mistakes and a mockery of the Premier League. 

It is gut wrenching seeing the sport we all love being ruined on a weekly basis. Every time the Reds scored today; no one celebrated. The thought process of all fans now is to think that the goal could be ruled out by VAR. This is wrong. It shouldn’t be the way the game is played and watched by millions. 

The second Brighton penalty is arguably one of the worst decisions that has been made since the systems introduction. If that is a foul, then the game is no longer a contact sport. This decision was best summed up in the post-match discussion by former Premier League referee, Peter Walton who stated that “the bar had been significantly lowered” in reference to the standard of decision making. Brighton striker Danny Welbeck also described the penalty decision as “really soft” which will only infuriate Reds fans even more. 

Overall, football is losing its heart and soul, with many fans losing interest in the sport altogether. It is a form of entertainment which is no longer doing its main function. This is not the first and won’t be the last time that the system is used incorrectly. The hope is, for the sake of the league and the game of football, that VAR is removed sooner rather than later.


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