Liverpool’s Premier League title defence took a major hit on Wednesday night, as Brighton earned a shock 1-0 win at Anfield. Few, if any, impressed in defeat.
Liverpool 0-1 Brighton
Premier League (22), Anfield
February 3, 2021
Goals: Alzate 56′
Caoimhin Kelleher (out of 10) – 6
With Alisson ruled out through illness, Kelleher was handed another chance to impress.
The young Irishman was untested on the whole, dealing with the simple things and generally distributing the ball coolly.
He could do nothing about Steven Alzate’s goal, but made a good save to deny Pascal Gross.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6
Alexander-Arnold has been much better in recent weeks, and while he was far from his world-class best at Anfield, he was one of Liverpool’s more creative players.
The right-back linked well with Mohamed Salah down the left flank in the first half, even though not every threaded pass paid off, and he handled the enormous Dan Burn well defensively.
Became far less effective after the break, though.
Nat Phillips – 6
Phillips earned another start at the heart of the Reds’ defence and he did fairly well again.
Aerially, the 23-year-old was typically strong, but he was also good in possession, not always opting for the easy pass.
He has grown into the role, but there are still times when his limitations are exposed.
Jordan Henderson – 6
The skipper has been a revelation at centre-back and he was reliable once again on Wednesday night, despite the result.
He bit into tackles, often highlighting his expert reading of the game, and tried his best to drive the team forward, almost playing one superb through-ball to Roberto Firmino.
Looks more at home as a defender by the game.
Andy Robertson – 5
After being superb for a number of months, there has been a noticeable drop-off from Robertson since the turn of the year.
The Scot did little wrong, proving reliable defensively at left-back, but those lung-busting runs and whipped crosses were nowhere to be seen.
Missed Sadio Mane more than anyone.
Gini Wijnaldum – 6
Wijnaldum again played at the base of Liverpool’s midfield, having excelled there in the victories away to Tottenham and West Ham.
He was less influential this time, failing to find his usual combination of physicality and intelligence, but he was also dependable.
Others further up the pitch were more culpable when it came to a lack of creativity.
Thiago – 5
Thiago has looked more at home in a No. 8 position in the last two matches, with more freedom to express himself in the final third.
The Spaniard was disappointing by his high standards against the Seagulls, however, failing to unlock a stubborn Brighton defence.
He looked classy on the ball, producing some clever footwork, but he was guilty of putting style ahead of substance. Constant fouling was irritating, too.
James Milner – 5
Milner started yet again, when it was expected he would be given the night off.
The midfielder really struggled to get into the game, not looking 100 percent fit after an early issue, with the game passing him by for large periods.
Another start against Man City on Sunday could be one too many.
Mohamed Salah – 6
Salah took up his usual spot on the right, in what looked like more of a 4-3-3 system than the 4-4-2 diamond seen against West Ham.
The Egyptian was lively early on, looking to replicate his performance in east London, but he grew increasingly frustrated as minutes passed.
Brighton defended well against him, in fairness, and he just couldn’t inspire Liverpool to a positive result.
Xherdan Shaqiri – 5
Shaqiri again got the nod in the absence of Mane, appearing to start in a left-sided role, despite drifting inside often.
That led to a lack of balance and natural width for Liverpool, especially with Robertson not at his swashbuckling best.
The Swiss disappointed in general, flattering to deceive and not providing enough guile at all. This is why he doesn’t start regularly.
Roberto Firmino – 5
Firmino is another who has been much improved lately, but he reverted to his previous poor form at Anfield.
Passes were under-hit a number of times and his touch also evaded him, in what was a lacklustre performance until his substitution.
When he isn’t good, neither are Liverpool.
Divock Origi (on for Shaqiri, 64′) – 5
The Belgian did nothing positive and played one simple pass out of play.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (on for Wijnaldum, 64′) – 5
Tried to make things happen but to no avail.
Curtis Jones (on for Firmino, 79′) – n/a
No time to make a proper impact.
Subs not used: Adrian, Davies, R.Williams, N.Williams, Tsimikas, Cain
Jurgen Klopp – 5
After signs of a resurgence from Liverpool, they came crashing back down to reality at Anfield.
It wasn’t a great night for Klopp, whose decision to play the same, tired-looking midfield didn’t pay off and his team again looked devoid of ideas against a defensive-minded opponent.
That’s probably the title race over from a Reds perspective, sadly, but a response is required at home to City this weekend.