Liverpool failed to capitalise on their early momentum as individual and collective issues allowed Brighton to fight back into a 2-2 draw at Anfield on Saturday.
Liverpool 2-2 Brighton
Premier League (10), Anfield
October 30, 2021
Goals: Henderson 4′, Mane 24′; Mwepu 41′, Trossard 65′
Alisson – 7
Rested in midweek, it was a busy afternoon for Alisson and there was both good and bad in his performance as he conceded twice, though the positives outweigh the negatives.
He could have done little with Enock Mwepu’s goal, while he was marooned for Leandro Trossard’s equaliser, with a slew of strong saves certainly keeping Liverpool in the game.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 5
A strange game from Alexander-Arnold, positionally, with his role as effectively part of the midfield seeing him fail to ably contribute to the defensive effort.
There were some flashes of quality going forward, but there will be no headlines when it comes to Liverpool’s No. 66 this time.
Ibrahima Konate – 6
Whether this is the start of Konate as first-choice centre-back or not is unlikely, but the young Frenchman looks at home in Liverpool’s defence.
His height and strength are real assets, though he was caught in the confusion throughout a messy second half in which none of Jurgen Klopp‘s defenders emerged with real credit.
Virgil van Dijk – 6
A joy to watch when in flight, Van Dijk can be the perfect role model for Konate. This wasn’t the Dutchman’s best game, however.
So often a magisterial presence at the back, Van Dijk looked to lose patience with the mess in front of him, and struggled to marshal a solid defensive line throughout.
Andy Robertson – 6
Liverpool’s left-back seems to relish playing against Brighton, and it was an all-action display this time around as he snapped and gnawed at every player in blue-and-white stripes that drifted into his sphere.
His enthusiasm looked to get the better of him as the gaps opened up for the visitors, however, and particularly when Tariq Lamptey was unleashed on the right.
Jordan Henderson – 6
That clipped ball from right-centre of the penalty box has become a go-to for Henderson over the years, and often it prompts groans from the Kop as it eludes its intended target.
This time, though, it flew straight towards the top corner to open the scoring in only the fourth minute, for the perfect start.
Henderson is not Fabinho, though, and when it came to the nitty-gritty of the No. 6 role, the captain presided over a passive midfield unit – Liverpool miss those go-go gadget legs.
Naby Keita – N/A
Hopes of a new, robust Naby Keita, showcasing the benefits of time working with Liverpool’s new head of recovery, Dr Andreas Schlumberger, were dashed after just 19 minutes.
The Guinean was bright in his cameo, but another injury forced him off before he could really make an impact.
Curtis Jones – 5
The only player retained from the midweek win at Preston, Jones was bullish in his left-sided midfield role, the more reserved of the two No. 8s.
But for a midfielder with such creative zeal, the 20-year-old was lost in the shuffle somewhat, in a game that seemed to pass him by.
Mohamed Salah – 6
Salah looked to be on course for a healthy afternoon up against Marc Cucurella in the opening stages, but to the Brighton left-back’s credit he improved as the game wore on.
He had the ball in the back of the net in the second half, only to be deemed offside, and while he attempted things only a striker with the utmost confidence would attempt, this time they did not come off.
Sadio Mane – 8 (Man of the Match)
Left out against both United and Preston, Mane was back in the side and determined to impress as he produced an excellent all-round performance as the bully on the left flank.
Pulled off a brilliant header to make it 2-0 and great pressing to force another that was ruled out for offside, as well as a smart pass for a Salah strike also dismissed, while his defensive work was among the best on the day.
Roberto Firmino – 7
More often stationed as a No. 10 throughout his 78-minute showing, Firmino dropped deep to influence play as Mane and Salah looked to find space around Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy.
There were some sloppy touches and overhit passes, but the Brazilian orchestrated attacks well before being brought off for Diogo Jota late on.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (on for Keita, 19′) – 5
Given a big chance as an early replacement for Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain made a telling impact with his beautiful arrowed cross for Mane’s header.
He remains the worst of Klopp’s eight midfield options when it comes to defensive structure, though, with gaps opening up for Brighton in the middle of the park as the post-Keita trio grasped for fluency.
Diogo Jota (on for Firmino, 78′) – 5
Brilliant against United, Jota came on and failed to stamp his authority with Liverpool seeking a win.
Takumi Minamino (on for Jones, 88′) – N/A
On for his first Premier League minutes since scoring at Palace almost a year ago, but unfortunately, there were only three of those minutes.
Subs not used:
Jurgen Klopp – 6
Klopp rewarded Konate for his performance at Old Trafford but arguably could have done with the composure and steel of Joel Matip against a progressive Brighton side.
The manager was slow to react with his changes, leaving it very late to introduce Jota and Minamino, though his hands were tied when it came to the decision over Oxlade-Chamberlain or Tyler Morton to take over from Keita.
He will have expected better from his side, and will now hope at least one of Fabinho and Thiago can come back into the fold as early as Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night.