Two goals from Virgil van Dijk gave Liverpool something to hang onto as they beat Brighton 2-1, but at what cost for future games?
Liverpool 2-1 Brighton
Premier League, Anfield
November 30, 2019
Goals: Van Dijk 18′, 24′; Dunk 79′
Managing without Fabinho
The manager could have gone with a change of shape, but filling the gap in this manner meant there was minimal disruption and only one player had to change their role.
There wasn’t the control in the middle of the park Liverpool might have liked having gone two goals up.
At the end of the first-half possession was 50-50, with some sloppy play in midfield, but they have performed like this at times even with Fabinho in the side.
It remains to be seen whether this will be the way Klopp continues to accommodate for Fabinho‘s absence going forward.
TAA + VVD = 2
Virgil van Dijk hadn’t scored for Liverpool since his header against Norwich in the opening game of the season.
This timely brace scored within the first 25 minutes took the burden off the attacking players and put Liverpool in a comfortable position early on in the game.
The goals were put on a plate for the Dutchman by Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s first-class delivery, well in time to give the defender a couple of early Christmas presents.
This brace of assists put the right-back on 24 in total for Liverpool, one ahead of fellow full-back Andy Robertson.
Misfiring front three
There was one move towards the end of the first half which showed what this group of four attacking players could do.
Rather than look to take the shot on himself the Egyptian teed up the onrushing Oxlade-Chamberlain, whose shot was saved by Mathew Ryan.
It feels like Liverpool need this type of goal at the moment, but in his press conference prior to this game, Jurgen Klopp commented that he’s not fussed who finds the back of the net.
“It is not too long ago that it was about us relying so much on the front three,” he said.
“I couldn’t care less who scores to be honest. I’m just happy when the ball is in the back of the net. I still think we could have scored more goals, that is the truth.”
Still, it would be nice for Salah especially to grab himself a goal. One of his shots in the second half was badly mishit and went out for a throw, which sums up his final product at the moment.
Those usual quick counter-attacks broke down far too often, and Mane’s non-stop running will eventually lead to the mental tiredness which already seems to be affecting Salah and, to a lesser extent, Firmino.
No Alisson against Everton
The Brazilian ‘keeper came out to try to deal with the situation but ended up saving the shot with his arm outside the area.
He remained on the pitch in the hope of some VAR miracle, but it was an obvious red.
But this will be a big test for the Spaniard who will be back in the fray for a Merseyside derby Liverpool will be expected to win comfortably.
Hanging on for the win
The last 15 minutes as Liverpool held on for a win felt as important as those late goals the team have scored this season.
The roar from the Kop as the final whistle went showed the importance of this win in the circumstances, and how close it was to not being a win.
Once Brighton scored from a free-kick which can be described as cheeky at best, with Liverpool’s wall and goalkeeper not set, they put pressure on the Reds with a man advantage.
After the red card, Liverpool had just 13 percent possession, struggling to win the ball and then struggling to keep it as they had done for most of the game.
Somehow they hung on for the win with Adrian making a save from Aaron Mooy and gathering a shot from Pascal Gross at the second attempt.