Liverpool returned to miserable form as their mini-revival was undone with a 1-0 loss to Brighton on Wednesday night, for a second consecutive Anfield defeat.
Liverpool 0-1 Brighton
Premier League (22), Anfield
February 3, 2021
Goals: Alzate 56′
In Jurgen Klopp‘s luckless quest for consistency, the manager was dealt another blow in the buildup to Brighton’s visit to Anfield as illness ruled Alisson out, handing Caoimhin Kelleher his fifth start of the season.
The manager reverted to his 4-3-3 system, as Xherdan Shaqiri and Mohamed Salah flanked the returning Roberto Firmino, and Salah in particular looked to press, harry and exploit Brighton’s three-man defensive line early on.
A continually makeshift defence was tested by the twisting feet of Neal Maupay in the 24th minute, only for his shot to eventually fall to 6’7″ centre-back turned left wing-back Dan Burn, who scooped it over the bar.
The half-hour mark ticked by and neither side had mustered a shot on target, with a familiar pattern setting in at Anfield, and the free-roaming Shaqiri struggled to find inroads as creator.
Few clear openings led to the Reds pumping in crosses and long balls against a tall, well-drilled Brighton defence, and unsurprisingly the first half ended at 0-0.
HT: Liverpool 0-0 Brighton
Little changed after the break, despite a switchover of wide men for Liverpool, and within 11 minutes Brighton took the lead as Burn headed a cross into the middle of the box and the onrushing Steven Alzate bundled it in.
That sparked Klopp into action, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi sent on for the ineffective Shaqiri and the non-essential Gini Wijnaldum, meanwhile Adam Lallana came on for the visitors.
A half-chance fell to the Reds as Trent Alexander-Arnold drilled in a low pass for Salah, but the back-in-form forward was unable to divert it on target with a left-footed effort.
There was zero impetus from Liverpool as they chased a possible draw, with Origi summing the night – and the undeniable decline of his powers – up by tackling Andy Robertson in the final third before launching a pass harmlessly out for a goal-kick.
Klopp explained Origi’s inclusion, and Takumi Minamino‘s exit, by pointing out his height, but a team full of 6’4″ brutes would not have broken through Brighton’s organised defensive unit, with the Seagulls deservedly taking the victory.
TIA Man of the Match: Nat Phillips
Referee: Kevin Friend
Liverpool: Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Henderson, Robertson; Wijnaldum (Oxlade-Chamberlain 64′), Thiago, Milner; Salah, Shaqiri (Origi 64′), Firmino (Jones 78′)
Subs not used: Adrian, Davies, R.Williams, N.Williams, Tsimikas, Cain
Brighton: Sanchez; White, Webster, Dunk; March (Lallana 67′), Bissouma, Alzate, Burn; Gross, Trossard, Maupay (Connolly 83′)
Subs not used: Walton, McGill, Karbownik, Moder, Tau, Zeqiri, Weir