Liverpool 0-1 Brighton: Winners and losers as Reds embarrassed at home again

Liverpool lost back-to-back home games for the first time since 2012, as they fell seven points behind Manchester City in the Premier League title race. OLIVER LAWRENSON picks out the Reds’ winners and losers from the game.

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After going 68 home league games unbeaten, the Reds fell to their second successive home defeat in 10 days as Brighton provided a massive upset on Wednesday night.

After a positive week, with back-to-back away wins over Tottenham and West Ham, Klopp’s side were going into the midweek fixture full of confidence once again. Unfortunately, by the end of the game they had fallen back to the depths of the Burnley defeat after spineless display, with Robertson signalling after the game that Liverpool where no longer in the title.

Despite the optimism after two positive results and two new incomings on deadline day, there was anxiety when Liverpool announced that Alisson would miss the game through illness. Despite this – after his outstanding performances earlier in the season – fans were positive that number two Caoimhín Kelleher would perform well in his absence.


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Unfortunately, the ten outfield players in front of him let him down with a painful showing that will disappoint fans and – even more so – Jürgen Klopp. It was like they had forgotten what they had done over the past week and returned to the form that saw them struggle through the vast majority of January.

At this point I would normally go through and discuss what has happened in the game, but this was truly a dull affair with Brighton sitting back and taking advantage of Liverpool’s inability to break them down. Then – like many sides who had successfully attempted these tactics before them – they broke on the counter and scored the only goal of the game.

With Liverpool’s defence stretched, the ball was whipped into the danger area. With Nat Phillips unable to deal with the bouncing ball, Steven Alzate took full advantage as he bumbled the ball goalward. With Kelleher unable to get across, this sparked wild celebrations on the Brighton bench and more familiar groans from the Liverpool side-line.

With new signings Davies and Kabak looking on, the defensive fragility was showing it’s face once again and at a time many thought that the Reds were starting to find there form again. With Klopp’s side only able to muster a few half chances before the final whistle, it was a bitterly disappointing performance across the board.

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With Manchester City up next at Anfield, a defeat at the weekend would likely signal the end of the Reds chances of defending their title – if it wasn’t already. With a few players slated to return from injury, many will hope for a significantly improved display and not a repeat of this horrendous showing.

Klopp made one change from the side who defeated West Ham United at the London Stadium on Sunday. Alisson dropped out after falling ill, with Caoimhín Kelleher taking his place between the posts.

Here are my winners and losers from the game:

Winners

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I didn’t think that the Reds could perform worse than they did against Burnley. How I was wrong. Was this the worst performance under Klopp? It is up there that is for sure.

It was an uncomfortable 90 minutes with no notable chances for anyone in a Red shirt. Personally, I was unmoved from my slumped situation on the couch for the 90 minutes, not even managing to raise a single limb in excitement.

Klopp’s side seemed tired, just going through the motions throughout the game as Brighton dealt with everything that Liverpool managed to throw at them. Adam Webster in particular was excellent for Graham Potter’s side, winning every key duel with the forwards and adjusting to every scenario that he was presented with.

It was tame display and one that I – and the team – hope to forget rather quickly. With no positives coming out of the game, I cannot make anyone a winner. Hopefully, I can fill this column after a more positive display against Manchester City on Sunday.

Losers

Xherdan Shaqiri

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With Sadio Mané missing once again for the Reds, the Swiss international was provided another opportunity to start after the promising performance at the London Stadium last time out. Like so many players unfortunately, he went from his exceptional best on Sunday, to having an absolute nightmare against Brighton.

To be fair to 29-year-old, he tried everything to get himself going, whilst he attempted his defensive duties, but that’s all that they can be called, attempted. Nearly every pass, cross, shot or header that he made was considerably wide of the mark, whilst he lost every tackle against Dan Burn and Solly March.

Tactically he was played out of position in the first half, struggling to adapt to the right-wing position, but even when he filtered into a more familiar attacking midfield role, the damage had already been done with Shaqiri struggling to get into the game, especially after the interval.

What summed up his performance was a ball he received at the end of the first half, where he attempted to control the ball with the sole of his boot and proceeded to miss the ball completely. To be honest, this didn’t just summarise his own performance but the entire teams display.

Klopp will likely have Mané back for the massive encounter against Manchester City on Sunday, with his involvement from the start so badly needed. This will most likely signal Shaqiri’s return to the Liverpool bench. With the majority of his memorable performances for the Reds coming as an impact substitute, hopefully this will be the case if he is required at the weekend.

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Gini Wijnaldum

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After his superb displays against Tottenham – in which I had him as a winner – and West Ham, this display against Brighton was a day to forget for the former Newcastle midfielder, who was pulled off on the hour mark knowing himself as he left the field that it wasn’t a great night.

He did nothing of note, regularly taking the negative option for his passing and left the risk taking to Thiago which, when a team is sitting back, is too much for one player to do and became predictable, much like Wijnaldum’s play.

In his last two fixtures, he was praised for his ball retention, his ability to find the forwards quickly and efficiently with his passing, whilst his tactical awareness of what the opposition midfielders were attempting to do was spot on. Graham Potter clearly recognised this during his analysis before the game and adapted, by getting his side to squeeze the Dutchman, which produced mistake after mistake by the 30-year-old.

With such an important game coming up, Wijnaldum is a certain starter. However, if he performs like he did against the Seagulls, he will find himself substituted again in no time by Klopp.

Andy Robertson

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In the last few fixtures, the Scottish internationals involvement has deteriorated somewhat, even in the wins against Tottenham and West Ham he struggled to get involved. Where he was able to provide a moment of brilliance in these previous fixtures, against Brighton he was completely anonymous.

He, like so many in the team, struggled with Brighton sitting back and thus negated any of his world-renowned runs behind the defensive line. Whilst his crossing was a complete no show, which might have been a tactic considering the height of Graham Potter’s side, but when everything else wasn’t working and had been exhausted, to not even attempt this was disappointing.

Defensively he really didn’t have to do much as the Reds were predominately on the front foot, which put even further emphasis on his attacking contribution, which I have stated just wasn’t at its best.

In the past few games, the left back has seen his form drop which many expected at some point during this season. As he was one of the players who showed some determination and provided positivity during the barren run in January, he should be given some time to rediscover his mojo. He usually saves his best performances for against Manchester City, so fingers crossed this will be the case on Sunday.


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