Consistency deserts fatigued Reds in “calamitous” title setback – Media on Liverpool 0-1 Brighton

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The media feel Liverpool’s 0-1 loss to Brighton has ended the Reds’ title defence as the impact of too many key injuries eventually proved too debilitating.

After 68 games without defeat at Anfield, the Reds suffered a second in a row as Brighton followed Burnley in taking all three points.

Steven Alzate’s scruffy effort was enough to condemn Liverpool to back-to-back home losses in the Premier League for the first time since 2012.

Here’s how the media reflected on a desperately poor night at Anfield.

 

Members of the media saw the result as a crushing defeat which all but ends Liverpool’s title defence…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 3, 2021: Brighton & Hove Albion's Steven Alzate celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Mirror’s David Maddock declared that the Reds’ title fight is over and feels that Klopp’s side could even struggle to finish in the top four:

But whatever the malaise, it surely signals the end of their title defence.

[…]

It was a goal that exposed Liverpool’s startling collapse this season, and their thoughts ahead of the weekend clash with Manchester City will be far from the title showdown it was once billed, and surely now on whether they can finish in the top four.

Neil Jones, writing for Goal, assessed that a title challenge is simply beyond Liverpool this season due to the Reds just not being the same force – regardless of injuries:

That could well be that, as far as Liverpool’s title aspirations are concerned.

[…]

There are plenty of games left, but it looks like a title challenge is beyond this side. Their consistency has deserted them, their aura of invincibility gone. They are still capable of magic, as we saw last week, but they have forgotten how to win the tight games.

Discussing how Liverpool have got to this position, Mark Ogden, writing for ESPN, blamed a combination of “hammer blow” injuries, struggles against bottom clubs and a lack of “energy”:

Injuries have clearly hit hard […] But the season-long injuries to Van Dijk, Gomez, and now Matip have been hammer blows.

[…]

Losing to teams like Brighton can happen, especially in a season made so unpredictable by the effects of the pandemic, but dropping points against struggling teams has become a worrying trend for Liverpool.

[…]

They lack imagination and energy — and energy was a huge factor in their title success last year. Without it, Liverpool are not the same team.

The Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe thinks Man City will stroll to the title if they beat Klopp’s side on Sunday:

What was billed as the tightest race in years may look like becoming a procession by Sunday evening as Brighton’s Steven Alzate condemned the champions to the latest calamitous setback to their title defence.

If Liverpool’s crown was already slipping, Manchester City can take a step towards their next coronation when they come to Anfield this weekend.

 

Reporters felt recent efforts on the road & a heavily patched-up XI yet were obstacles too big to overcome…

Klopp, Origi, Oxlade, subs (Phil Noble/PA Wire/PA Images)

The Independent’s Melissa Reddy put Liverpool’s poor showing to the many missing key men, which understandably compromises performance level:

Where last season the Merseysiders collected points relentlessly, in this campaign it has been replaced by a ceaseless loss of players, largely through serious injury.

Perhaps unsurprisingly then, Liverpool reverted to not looking quite themselves after consecutive victories away to Tottenham and West Ham.

Maddock labelled Liverpool’s performance as “lethargic” and attributed it to the efforts expended in victories at Tottenham and West Ham:

It sometimes makes for turgid football, especially with a lethargic Liverpool unable to muster the required energy to move through those regimented lines, their endeavours in London against Spurs and West Ham perhaps catching up with them.

Meanwhile, Jones thought Klopp’s men should still have produced a better performance, despite the injury absentees, labelling the display “a shambles”:

Still, he is entitled to expect more from those who are available. This was a shambles at times, Liverpool managing just one shot on target in 90 minutes against a side that started the game 17th in the table.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 3, 2021: Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (R) and Brighton & Hove Albion's Yves Bissouma during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle pointed out how having too many players out of natural positions causes the disjointed, inconsistent performance we’re currently seeing:

Liverpool weren’t good enough, too many players out of position with Klopp having few realistic options to which he could turn, although Curtis Jones may be wondering why he wasn’t thrown on a lot earlier.

The Mirror’s Freddie Keighley also saw this a crucial issue, and thinks Klopp should introduce the new centre-back signings against City to get Jordan Henderson back into midfield:

The goal the Reds let slip was a hugely disappointing one to concede, however, and it may accelerate Jurgen Klopp‘s plans to introduce Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies into the starting XI.

[…]

But doubts remain over Phillips’ ability to play Premier League football week in, week out, and another lacklustre performance only reaffirms how much the Reds rely on Henderson’s impetus from midfield. If they Liverpool forced to field their captain in defence for the visit of City, there is every chance they could be overrun in the middle of the park.

 

Nonetheless, journalists were unimpressed by Liverpool’s attacking performance & growing reliance on Salah…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 3, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Guardian’s Andy Hunter was unimpressed to see Liverpool “found wanting” by a lack of creativity and clinical touch once again:

Creatively and clinically, Jürgen Klopp’s team were found wanting again and find themselves seven points behind the league leaders ahead of Sunday’s encounter.

Karl Matchett, writing for the Independent, was similarly unimpressed by the Reds’ lack of movement in behind Brighton’s defence:

Klopp’s side were lethargic and uninspiring for too much of the game, frustrated by Brighton’s numbers behind the ball and showing a lack of movement behind the away team’s defence.

Bascombe thinks Liverpool’s attackers have become too indecisive in the final third – taking one touch too many and not getting shots off quickly enough:

Occasionally, and this seems more of an Anfield habit, Liverpool’s attackers always want that extra touch when facing goal, or are more inclined to make one more pass than necessary.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 3, 2021: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino and Brighton & Hove Albion's Yves Bissouma during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Matchett expressed concern at how the Reds have become reliant on Salah to score, with nobody else stepping up when most needed to the share the burden:

Liverpool’s Egyptian forward scored twice at United in the cup and twice at West Ham at the weekend, but he was denied space or chances here outside of the very first minute, when he lobbed an instinctive effort over. Sadly for Liverpool, nobody else looked remotely like scoring.

There was little invention or variation in the play, set-pieces were a dead loss due to Brighton’s size and numbers, the midfielders barely chanced their arm between them and, in attack, Roberto Firmino was off-form with his touch and pass. He was replaced by Divock Origi, who offered nothing at all, and not for the first time.

Elsewhere, Keighley assessed Caoimhin Kelleher as one of the only Reds who could “leave Anfield with his head held high” after another “assured” outing:

It was another assured display for the young Irishman and he kept the scoreline respectable for Liverpool as they scrambled for an equaliser after falling behind to Steven Alzate’s opener.

[…]

There was nothing he could have done about the scuffed effort from which Brighton scored, and for that reason Kelleher is one of the very few Liverpool players who can leave Anfield with his head held high.

 

And certain journalists discussed the factors behind the collapse of fortress Anfield…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 3, 2021: Brighton & Hove Albion's Steven Alzate celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Maddock described how playing at Anfield has gone from being Liverpool’s “deadliest weapon” to their “kryptonite”:

It was the deadliest weapon of the champions, now Liverpool’s form at Anfield is fast becoming their Kryptonite.

The Reds were simply unrecognisable as the Supermen who swept every team before them here in almost four imperious unbeaten years, their second Premier League defeat on home turf in just a fortnight administered by lowly Brighton.

For Paul Gorst, of the Liverpool Echo, the loss of the ‘Anfield factor’ through the absence of the home fans has been a key factor:

Maybe that is the root cause here? Liverpool’s stirring performances have always come against the backdrop of the Kop’s roar. Right now, only silence greets them when inspiration is needed.

And for Doyle, the Anfield down-turn is simply another result of the route of all Liverpool’s problems right now – injuries:

But it doesn’t take long to determine why Jurgen Klopp’s side have suddenly started to struggle at their previously impenetrable Anfield fortress.

No squad – not even that of Manchester City – could absorb the absences Liverpool have had to cope with this season.

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