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Mane steps up but Reds lack the spark – 5 talking points from Liverpool 2-2 Brighton

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Liverpool’s return to Anfield started well but finished with a whimper as Brighton came from two down to draw on Saturday afternoon.

Liverpool 2-2 Brighton

Anfield, Premier League
30 October 2021

Goals: Henderson 4′, Mane 24′; Mwepu 41′, Trossard 64′


Konate’s hits and misses

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 30, 2021: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson (L) celebrates with team-mate Ibrahima Konaté 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)

Ibrahima Konate made his second consecutive league start at the back for the Reds, perhaps hinting that at the very least he’s about where Jurgen Klopp likes his signings to be from a tactical perspective before regular involvement.

It didn’t start too well as he was caught much deeper than his fellow back four and allowed a run-in on goal for Solly March, Alisson forced into a save, but the positives of having him there were seen in the first half too.

First, he was able to race back much like Van Dijk and use his pace to hoover up balls played over the top – that caused Liverpool no problems all afternoon. Also, his aerial prowess was on show to clear his lines more than once.

But on other occasions he was caught in possession and out of position, causing a few issues at the back against the counter-attack, and he wasn’t able to predict the quick exchanges of passes after the restart to stop Brighton playing through on his side, including for the equaliser.

Big steps to get into the team, for sure, and the promise of how good he could be is there – but also still bits to work on for our newest addition.


Mane steps up

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 30, 2021: Liverpool's Sadio Mané (2nd from R) celebrates with team-mates after scoring a goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This was quite possibly Sadio Mane‘s best showing of the campaign.

Our No10 scored one, had another ruled out and created shed-loads of chances through both technical excellence and fierce, relentless work rate.

Mane pressed and tackled (including the goalkeeper), dribbled well and won set-pieces, while his movement for the goal was clever and untrackable – with a header as unerring as ever.

This wasn’t vintage attacking play from the Reds outside of the first 20 minutes or so, but Mane was certainly the pick of the performers.


Midfield matters

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 30, 2021: Liverpool's Naby Keita goes down injured during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Naby Keita recovered from injury to take his place in the line-up much quicker than might have been expected, but sadly it didn’t last too long.

Around 20 minutes into the match he was down and subbed off – it’s not immediately clear if it was a recurrence of the same issue, or something new suffered during the opening stages, but it certainly comes at a frustrating time. The No8 was great at Old Trafford and had started extremely well against the Seagulls, but it’s another reminder of how his Anfield time has been interrupted.

Jordan Henderson, meanwhile, was deepest but made two early forward runs – the first led to a great goal. The captain was defensively much better in the first half but one of many bypassed with regularity in the second as energy looked sapped and the shape was poor.

It wasn’t Curtis Jones‘ best outing either, on or off the ball – but needs-must at this stage and the available players have to step up.


Hesitancy and lacking fuel

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 30, 2021: Brighton & Hove Albion's Leandro Trossard celebrates after scoring the second goal to equalise the score at 2-2 during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The match was crying out for more energy and direction from quite early on in the second half, but Jurgen Klopp rejected the urge to turn to his bench until quite late and with the game already back level.

Diogo Jota was only given 15 minutes or so including stoppage time to have an impact, which he didn’t, and a third sub wasn’t used at all until the final three minutes.

That’s despite Taki Minamino and Divock Origi both playing and scoring in midweek in the League Cup – they have to wonder what more they can do with their chances to at least get half a worthwhile chance at staking their claim at the weekend.

Minamino the very short run-out in place of Jones – his first league appearance of the entire season.


Onto Europe and one big league test

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 30, 2021: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (L) and Brighton & Hove Albion's Enock Mwepu during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Onto Atletico Madrid next on another Anfield occasion under the lights, before a trip to West Ham as the final fixture before the international break.

It would be ideal to suggest a change or two for the line-up for that midweek encounter, but Klopp doesn’t have a whole lot of choice if he wants to keep what would effectively be a first-choice line-up on the pitch.

The best news would be to get Fabinho and Thiago back available, of course, but they can’t be rushed back with more massive matches ahead.

West Ham away, for example. David Moyes’ team have been excellent this season and will be tough to beat, and Liverpool can’t really be giving up much more ground to Chelsea even at this stage of the campaign.

A bad second half at the office on Saturday, and the Reds have to simply move on and stop collecting too many draws – it’s four in ten so far.

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