Brighton vs. Liverpool: Post-Match Analysis
Paul Tomkins, Andrew Beasley, Daniel Rhodes and other TTT regulars will give their thoughts on the match for 24 hours after the game, so the article received via email is unlikely to be the final version. There's statistics from the match and videos too.
After the hideous display a couple of weeks ago, this was an unlucky defeat, in which younger and newer players showcased the way forward.
Liverpool lost due to a sloppy final 15 minutes minutes, and a continued limpness at set-pieces at both ends in the absence of Virgil van Dijk; and because the impressive, energetic midfielders had given their all and gone off, with the older guard on.
(Plus, the Brighton equaliser was a flukey deflected goal out of nothing.)
For most of the match, it was pretty good from the under-strength and evolving Reds, against a Brighton team that had pulled the previous midfield to pieces at Anfield (four big chances in the first 15 minutes) and at the Amex (where the whole game was a horror show).
The reboot is taking shape, but things derailed when Fabinho, still alarmingly off the pace, joined the fray, after the hard-running and general excellence of Stefan Bajcetic and Naby Keita had gone off, with the youngster building towards being a 90-minute player (as seen with him getting cramp or fading in the final 20 minutes of games as you'd expect from a kid), and the latter never able to stay fit long enough. Neither was taken off for tactical or performance reasons, just to keep them from injuries.
Mo Salah and Thiago had skittish games of nearly doing great things (Salah had a shot cleared off the line), but mostly just getting things a fraction off, or being a little slow to react; while Thiago made some weird decisions on the edge of the Brighton box, when a shot was the simpler thing to do.
A general finishing malaise is also seeing all of the strikers drag shots wide right now, and that will pass. That's just confidence.
At the back, Ibrahima Konaté was superb, including being strong after the last time he didn’t take the ball and the striker leading to a goal even when he himself was fouled. I thought it was a good, forceful challenge (his arm was a little high but Mac Allister threw himself to the ground), unlike Fabinho's Achilles-raker, which could easily have been a red card.
Joe Gomez was generally very good, but as keeps happening, had a shaky spell, and it put the team under pressure; this time it was towards the end of the game.
Trent Alexander-Arnold was often very good on the ball, but found himself getting roasted by Mitoma, and back came the 'attitude' when he was subbed off for James Milner, who, at 37, looks the better all-round right-back right now.
Elliott, 19, produced the pass of the game, and scored his 5th goal of the season, and was close to a 6th. While he'll never be a sprinter, he looked livelier and more positive as part of a front three, even if he wouldn't be a first-choice in that role if there weren't so many injuries.
Bajcetic, 18, Elliott, 19, Cody Gakpo, 23, and Konaté, 23, were the bright sparks to build around, with three of those adding size, speed and athleticism.
Gomez, 25, fits that profile too, but just needs to lose the demons from his head, and Alexander-Arnold, 24, is a generational talent whose defensive lapses (and lack of electric pace) won't be as obvious once the team is stronger again, and dominating like it used to. (I just wish he'd stop pouting so much.)
Darwin Núñez, when 100% fit, and Luis Díaz and Diogo Jota, when they return, will add to the future-building project.
Núñez can be a real threat on left flank, as he showed at Benfica, but needs to channel his incredible pace and energy into more cohesive pressing (and a bit more calmness on the ball), that will come with time and practice. Then he can move centrally, or become a pacy wide-goalscorer.
I admit I didn't get why Gakpo was playing centrally, but once Jürgen Klopp explained the pressing and the link play, it made sense.
And Gakpo was excellent today, albeit without getting a sniff at goal; doing the Roberto Firmino role of pressing and linking, and dropping deep to allow others (Elliott and Salah) to find the space in behind. When Gakpo was bursting through to shoot, he was hauled over by a cynical foul that was so blatant and forceful it could almost have been a red card.
So to me, there were lots of positives, in amongst some continued failings, but where others failings have been eradicated.
Unlike the defeats at Brentford and in the league at the Amex, it felt like the team had a functioning midfield, but it still has a non-'unified' attack – in terms of whoever is chosen (made worse by three senior attackers being absent), it's not yet automatic, with two new signings, one youngster, and an older superstar who seems a fraction slower to things right now. Yet Gakpo showed signs of linking things together.
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