The media praised Liverpool for winning when below par and Mohamed Salah for being the difference-maker in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Brighton.
It was hard work but the Reds maintained their 100 percent winning start to the season with a narrow victory over the Seagulls.
Salah struck what proved to be the winner on 23 minutes, passing an inch-perfect low curler into the far corner of Mat Ryan’s net.
It was far from a vintage Liverpool display but it was enough to get over the line and continue building positive momentum at this early stage of the season.
Here’s how the media assessed a nervy but triumphant afternoon at Anfield.
The media picked out various positives from Liverpool winning despite a mixed display…
The Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce feels it is positive that the Reds no longer have to be at their best to win, assessing this as a key characteristic for any serious title challenger:
“The ability to grind out victories when nowhere near your best is key to any title challenge and Liverpool have shown over the past week they can do just that.
“Liverpool no longer have to be at their sparkling best going forward to win games because Klopp has added defensive resilience to attacking flair.”
Writing for the National, Richard Jolly focussed on a nice change in Liverpool not dropping points against a ‘lesser’ side on home soil when not at their best, as happened too often last season:
“They may have extended their 100 percent start to the current campaign with the least spectacular of their three displays but a team who have dropped too many points at home against their inferiors in the past can savour both the result and the sight of the table.”
The main positive for the Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe was Liverpool’s improved ability to deal with pressure, with the Reds no longer collapsing easily when on the back foot:
“Klopp will not welcome his side temporarily losing control when Brighton released the shackles but he will embrace his team’s evolving character.
“Too often during Klopp’s reign, Liverpool’s most difficult periods led to a concession, usually at least one goal, occasionally a point or even three.”
For ESPN’s Dave Usher the biggest plus-point was Liverpool winning without any of the front three hitting anywhere near top form:
“The front three were far from their brilliant best. Perhaps it’s the World Cup effect or maybe it was just an off day, but none of them look at their best at the moment.
“Three wins from three and top of the league even though the much vaunted forward line are a little off the pace.”
“It has been Liverpool’s tendency in the more frustrating years of their recent history to look gift horses in the mouth, to watch key rivals drop points only to fail to take advantage themselves.
“This 2018 vintage may be rather different though. ‘They’ve got a bit more about them’ might be one early assessment. Yes, it is early in the season, but make no mistake that Manchester City‘s hiccup earlier in the day at Molineux was a chance to be grasped here by Jurgen Klopp‘s side.”
On the performance itself, the Mail’s Joe Bernstein praised Liverpool’s improved balance between attack and defence, assessing how Klopp has found “the balance of prospective champions”:
“And though it is early in the season and Brighton put them under pressure late on, he will be as delighted by the resolute manner in which his side defended as much as the interplay between his fab front-three for the winner.
“It is the balance of prospective champions and not a result Pep Guardiola would have wanted after his Manchester City side had dropped points at Wolves.”
Neil Jones, for Goal, reflected on the start to the season and thinks the way Liverpool have overcome ‘lesser’ opponents will be the most pleasing aspect for Klopp:
Summing up events nicely, Kelly described the victory as “the win of a genuine title contender”:
“But it was nonetheless in the end that thing perhaps even more craved round these parts, the 1-0 win of a genuine title contender.”
Reporters praised Salah for picking up from where he left off as Liverpool’s difference maker…
ESPN’s Glenn Price wrote a nice line on how the Egyptian King is already proving the doubters wrong:
“Those—admittedly small—doubts about whether he was a one-season wonder are being put to bed quite convincingly.”
Jones thinks Salah’s ability to change fortunes in the blink of an eye could be key to Liverpool’s ambitions as this makes him almost impossible to stop:
“In Salah, though, Klopp’s side have the man to pinch them points from tight game, to turn the difficult afternoons into successful ones.
“He’s relentless and ruthless, a thorn in the side of any defence. The Premier League knows what he’s all about now, but can they stop him?”
David Lynch, for the Evening Standard, exposed the myth of Salah’s supposed slow start and felt the Egyptian showed again why he is still Liverpool’s best player:
“Salah made a mockery of suggestions that he is enduring a slow start to the new campaign as he supplemented the impressive numbers he has already stacked up this term.
“We may not be witnessing another 44-goal season from the former AS Roma man, but it’ll take something special for his mantle as the Reds’ best player to be threatened.”
Price also focussed on the finish and how it showed Salah is a danger from almost all positions due to his ability to score many different types of goal:
“The 26-year-old’s clinical finish from a tight angle was yet another example of how he can score every type of goal—tap-ins, headers, screamers, etc.”
Reporters picked out their star performers, with plenty of praise for Gini Wijnaldum…
Usher selected the Dutchman as his man of the match:
“Liverpool’s best player on the day. Cool and composed in the first half and then provided quality and thrust when moved further forward following the introduction of Henderson. He’s started the season very impressively.”
The Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle lauded Wijnaldum for stepping up his game under the increased competition for places and believes the Dutchman’s form has made him undroppable:
“While so many of his team-mates fluffed their lines, here the Dutchman was by some distance Liverpool’s best player, harrying the Brighton midfield, always keen to move play on and possessing as much energy in the last minute as the first.
“Wijnaldum, though, will be one of the first names on the teamsheet on this evidence.”
Pearce waxed lyrical about Alisson, assessing that the Brazilian is already “living up to the billing”:
“No wonder Liverpool were prepared to break the bank to sign him from Roma this summer. The £65 million ‘keeper pulled off a fine save late on when substitute Pascal Gross looked destined to secure the Seagulls a share of the spoils.
“Alisson is so comfortable with the ball at his feet and commanded his penalty box with a swagger. He’s living up to the billing. The upgrade is huge.”
“The veteran was exceptional yet again in the middle of the park and it was his harrying of Yves Bissouma that led to Mohamed Salah scoring the only goal.
“Every decision was thoughtful, every run had purpose and there was no more influential player on the pitch.”
Finally, Lynch was particularly impressed by Jordan Henderson’s cameo appearance:
“As ever, Jordan Henderson did exactly what his manager asked, constantly nipping counter-attacks in the bud, spreading the play, and ensuring the Reds retained possession to take the sting out of matters.”