Liverpool battled their way to a crucial 1-0 victory away to Brighton on Saturday, with several individuals standing out.
Brighton 0-1 Liverpool
Premier League, Amex Stadium
January 12, 2019
Goals: Salah pen (50′)
Alisson (out of 10) – 7
The goalkeeper was a spectator for much of the afternoon as Liverpool bossed proceedings against Chris Hughton’s resolute outfit.
He was typically composed in his distribution, though, and kept out Jurgen Locadia from distance.
The Brazilian did slightly misjudge one Brighton corner, but it was another solid day at the office.
Alexander-Arnold returned to the side after being rested at Wolves on Monday night and he did well on the whole, despite concerns surrounding his fitness before kick-off.
He provided energy down the right flank and one inch-perfect left-footed cross should have been converted by Xherdan Shaqiri.
Not quite contributing as much as last season, but that does feel overly harsh.
Fabinho – 8
Retained as a centre-back due to shortages in that area, Fabinho did excellently on the whole, up against the burly Glenn Murray.
He did lose the striker for a header in the first-half, but he was otherwise dogged in his work and looked like he has played as a central defender for years.
A huge block to deny Pascal Gross after the break highlighted his influence and he arguably looked a calmer presence than Dejan Lovren.
Virgil van Dijk – 9 (Man of the Match)
Fresh off the back of being named the Premier League Player of the Month for December, Van Dijk was once again immaculate, as he strengthened his cased for PFA Player of the Year award.
He oozed an aura that rubbed off on those around, with his technical quality, aerial prowess and communication skills all standing out.
The Dutchman is a man mountain and holds the key to Liverpool winning the title this season. Outstanding.
Andy Robertson – 8
Like Alexander-Arnold, the Scot returned to the fold at full-back and he was a contender for Liverpool’s best player at the Amex Stadium.
His energy levels caught the eye throughout, but so did his crisp use of the ball and defensive awareness.
A beautiful early cross should have led to Roberto Firmino scoring and his level never dipped at any point.
A remarkable signing.
Jordan Henderson – 6
Despite Klopp suggesting the captain would miss out through injury, Henderson started against the Seagulls after only returning to training on Friday.
Although he saw more of the ball than anyone, rarely losing possession, a little more imagination was required at times.
It wasn’t a bad display by any means, with lots of good off-the-ball work and his experience on show, but he needed to influence proceedings more creatively.
Gini Wijnaldum – 6
Wijnaldum has been Liverpool’s outstanding midfielder so far this season, but this was one of his quieter away showings, particularly in the opening 45 minutes.
Like Henderson, he seemed far to keen to simply keep the ball ticking over rather than break the lines, but he did also plenty of good, growing into the match.
He worked his socks off and knitted things together, and shot wide late on.
Xherdan Shaqiri – 7
Used on the right-hand side in a 4-2-3-1 formation, the diminutive Swiss was a lively presence without ever having enough end product, like most of Liverpool’s attackers.
He headed wide from Alexander-Arnold’s cross with the goal gaping, which was the kind of chance you have to take in such tight encounters.
Always looked to make things happens, but will play better.
Roberto Firmino – 8
Firmino was utilised in his new No.10 berth and his he was an effective member of the Reds’ attacking unit.
He was involved heavily throughout, whether it be through endless pressing, clever touches or intelligent movement, but he should have scored a gilt-edged opportunity early on.
A perfect team player.
Sadio Mane – 6
Mane’s form has been criticised for being inconsistent of late and he was often a frustrating presence.
Too often, he was guilty of slowing things down when he got into a dangerous areas, and his final ball was rarely on the money.
One over-hit pass to the on-rushing Shaqiri summed up Mane’s afternoon, even though he kept trying and did pose a threat.
Mohamed Salah – 9
Salah led the line for the Reds, as has invariably been the case this season, and he yet again proved to be his side’s match-winner.
He tested David Button early in the second-half, before winning and converting the all-important penalty that earned Liverpool all three points.
Salah may have missed a sitter to kill the game off, but he was a constant menace to Brighton‘s defence and is worth his weight in gold.
James Milner (on for Shaqiri, 72′) – 7
Came on and did his job well, showing all his tactical nous and years of seeing games out.
Naby Keita (on for Mane, 89′) – n/a
Lost the ball cheaply which almost led to a Brighton equaliser – that was about it.
Divock Origi (on for Salah. 90′) – n/a
Only on the pitch for a matter of seconds.
Subs not used: Mignolet, Moreno, Matip, Camacho.
Jurgen Klopp – 8
Klopp masterminded yet another victory for his team, meaning they are still yet to drop points to a non-top-six side this season.
It was tough to fault the manager’s team selection, with Fabinho excelling at centre-back and the 4-2-3-1 again bringing success.
The first-half performance was sloppy, though, with too many long balls playing into the hands of Brighton centre-back pair Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy.
This was a game that Liverpool would have dropped points in in the past, however, which is testament to the winning mentality Klopp has created.
Seven points clear!