The good, the bad and breaking the points record – Debating Brighton 1-3 Liverpool

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Liverpool forced their way to another victory over a stubborn Brighton on Wednesday night, with their title-winning quality shining through in a 3-1 win.  

The Reds have produced few ‘top’ performances since the Premier League‘s restart, but this can be forgiven due to their status as champions of England, still with four games to play.

But their display at the Amex in midweek was more akin to their thrashing of Crystal Palace than the scraped result against Aston Villa, particularly in the opening and closing stages.

Mohamed Salah scored two to edge closer to the Golden Boot, while Jordan Henderson scored another before limping off with a worrying injury in the second half.

With the title already won, the next objective is attaining individual and collective honours, and this was another step forward in that respect.

Here, This Is Anfield regulars Jack Lusby (@jacklusby_) and Karl Matchett (@karlmatchett) were joined by Keifer MacDonald (@KeiferMacd) to discuss Liverpool’s 3-1 win at Brighton.

 

The good…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, June 21, 2019: Liverpool’s Naby Keita during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 236th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

KARL: Naby, so much Naby.

This is the Keita I want to see all the time for the Reds; we need to find a way to ensure he’s not so brittle and can take back-to-back games regularly.

If he was as resilient as Gini, he’d be a world-beater.

The ability to not just win back the ball, but time his challenges when the rest of the team can exploit the turnover, and then make the very best use of the space ahead of him, is second-to-none.

Elsewhere, I’m really pleased Salah is so tuned-in with his rhythm and attacking intent after the restart.

I think he’s been the difference in our ‘better’ performances so far, with others lacking that speed and clinical edge. He’s just lethal!

Good decisions from Klopp to start Neco and to sub him, to play another changed midfield and to use his full allocation of subs.

KEIFER: It was a much-improved performance, as Liverpool flexed their muscle and showed exactly why they are England’s newly crowned champions.

It was a good night for Salah who kept up his pursuit for a third consecutive Golden Boot, something that has only been managed by Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry.

BRIGHTON & HOVE, ENGLAND - Wednesday, July 8, 2020: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the FA Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Liverpool FC at the AMEX Stadium. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by Propaganda)

He looked back to his best last night. He looked sharp, he looked hungry and he looked like a man on a mission.

Last night, Salah looked like that player we saw in his record-breaking debut campaign at Anfield, coming in off the right, at times looking unplayable.

The team fluidity was back, something which seemed to be so absent on Sunday afternoon against Aston Villa, the interchange and the linkup between Keita and the front three was great.

Like Karl says, Keita was one of the many positives, his pressing and ability to win the ball back for the first two goals showed he’s more than capable to do the other side of the game and continued his impressive performances since the restart.

Although the jury is still out on Keita’s Liverpool career so far, last night was one of the more impressive performances we’ve seen of him in a red shirt, and hopefully, something that he can use and build on for next season.

BRIGHTON & HOVE, ENGLAND - Wednesday, July 8, 2020: Liverpool's Naby Keita during the FA Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Liverpool FC at the AMEX Stadium. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by Propaganda)

JACK: I’m going to echo both Karl and Keifer and dedicate this response to one of Keita’s best performances in a Liverpool shirt.

The speed with which he covered ground was insane, and this combined with his creativity on the ball shows why Klopp has such unshakeable faith in him.

Back-to-back assists for the first time in the league could be a sign of things to come, and given he was brought off on the hour mark—surely as a pre-planned change—I wouldn’t be surprised if he was rewarded with another start against Burnley.

Who knows whether he has seen the speculation, but it sure seems like rumours of Thiago to Liverpool has given him a kick up the arse—he was good on the restart, but this time around he was sensational.

 

The bad..

BRIGHTON & HOVE, ENGLAND - Wednesday, July 8, 2020: Brighton & Hove Albion and Champions Liverpool line-up before the FA Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Liverpool FC at the AMEX Stadium. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by Propaganda)

KARL: Would like to see a bit more Minamino before the season is out. We really need to know if he’s good enough and ready enough to play a leading role for 2020/21, particularly through the centre.

There’s not really a need to play Origi at this point, we know what we get there, but can Minamino be a better alternative? Can he link with Salah and Mane?

Not sure any of the defensive three around Virgil were outright ‘bad’ across 90 minutes, but they definitely each had bad moments.

Trent hasn’t really got started yet, Gomez has had a few dodgy moments of decision-making.

Brighton are a very good side in general, I think they’ll be a top-half team next season with one or two decent additions, but the way they were able to constantly get behind our full-backs was a bit of a concern from our side.

KEIFER: I didn’t think there was too much to dwell on in terms of poor performances.

I think Brighton looked really neat, worked the ball well between both boxes and in truth, probably showed that their league position is a false reflection of the squad they have.

As Klopp pointed out, the start and the end to the game were fantastic, I think Liverpool slightly lost their way just before half-time, allowing Brighton a flurry of chances.

I was disappointed that Neco was taken off at half-time, I would’ve liked to see him get to the 60-minute mark, but as Klopp mentioned it was due to the yellow card being picked in the first half.

Looking at the bigger picture, last night would have been an unforgettable experience for the young full-back. He made a really positive start and he found it difficult at times—like any young player would find their Premier League debut.

He could become a huge asset for Liverpool, especially if he is able to deputise for Robbo down the left-hand side.

BRIGHTON & HOVE, ENGLAND - Wednesday, July 8, 2020: Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during the FA Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Liverpool FC at the AMEX Stadium. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by Propaganda)

JACK: Whether intentional or not, Klopp’s assertion that Liverpool “didn’t protect Williams well enough” on the right highlights the issue with Ox starting in attack.

He has not been at his best of late, and unlike Keita, I’d suspect his exit on the hour mark was more to do with what he was unable to offer than what the manager hopes he can continue to offer on Saturday.

It furthers the argument that the Reds don’t have sufficient quality to rest any of Mane, Salah or Firmino on a regular basis, though I’d still argue Ox is among the best ‘squad players’ in the Premier League.

As Karl says, I’m a bit surprised Taki hasn’t been given more of a chance yet, and I’d hope if the rotation continues he can be given then opportunity to fill in for Firmino as No. 9 before the season’s end.

 

And will Liverpool break the all-time points record?

Jurgen Klopp’s side won for the 30th time in the Premier League this season (Paul Childs/NMC Pool)

KARL: It sometimes feels as though every time there’s a barrier to break through, there remain doubts that Liverpool can do it.

Maybe we’re just short of challenging, just short of winning in Europe, just short of beating this team, just short of staying unbeaten…but we’ve done it all.

So yes, even with performances not at the best, even with some players not on top form, Liverpool will break the points record.

Mentality is everything at the top end of the game and there isn’t a reasonable soul on the planet who can suggest this side isn’t the greatest when it comes to belief and finding a way.

I’d also add that I’d place more emphasis on going 100 percent at Anfield this season than getting a points record overall, but this team can do both!

KEIFER: It’s going to be tight, nine points from the final 12.

I’d like to think we’ve got the hunger and desire to go and cement ourselves as the greatest side the league has ever seen.

We’ve certainly got the quality to beat all of our final four opponents.

We’ve seen over the last two seasons how ruthless this side can be, and I expect the final four to be no different.

I think last night’s game was needed, the first proper performance since the league had been sealed and it certainly would have shaken off any cobwebs that might have appeared since the title celebrations two weeks ago.

BRIGHTON & HOVE, ENGLAND - Wednesday, July 8, 2020: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (R) celebrates scoring the first goal with team-mate Roberto Firmino during the FA Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Liverpool FC at the AMEX Stadium. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by Propaganda)

JACK: The fixtures don’t help, particularly with Arsenal and Chelsea still fighting for top four, but why shouldn’t we believe Liverpool can do it?

Burnley will be a tough task next up, given they are unbeaten in four with three wins in that run, but this performance should be encouragement enough that three more points are on their way.

I’d predict we end the season with 102 points, dropping two of the remaining 12 against Chelsea at Anfield.

Not a bad forecast, is it?

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