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LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 1, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The mediocre, the bad & Trent’s form – Debating Liverpool 3-3 Brighton

Liverpool’s return to action ended up being largely depressing, perhaps we were better off without football to ruin our weekends!

The Reds produced yet another worrying showing on Saturday afternoon, dropping more points against Brighton after conceding first yet again – that’s now seven out of the nine games this season it’s happened.

The early 2-0 deficit was turned around into a 3-2 lead but it never felt as though Jurgen Klopp‘s side would hold on for the win, as the manager himself admitted post-match.

Here, This Is Anfield’s Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) is accompanied by Liam Togher (@liamtogher88) and David Comerford (@Dave_Comerford) to assess another poor result and discuss Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s decline.

 

Let’s start with the better stuff…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 1, 2022: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LIAM: Do we dare try to find positives from that muck? Fair enough, then…

I suppose three goals were scored and two of them going to Roberto Firmino should be a feather in his cap amid plenty of criticism in recent months, and doubts over his place with Darwin Nunez now around.

Also, had it not been for Alisson, we would likely have lost as he came up with a couple of vital saves.

DAVID: Those are the only two players I really have any inclination to praise to be honest.

Firmino’s composure for the second goal was impressive. He’s already scored more goals at Anfield than he did in the whole of last season.

And then you would have to say Alisson.

Naturally, goalkeepers are often the only players who come out of poor spells with their reputations enhanced – without him, Brighton would have been out of sight in the first half.

You can’t even celebrate the comeback from two goals down, unfortunately, because the Reds threw away the victory in the end.

HENRY: As the others say, Firmino was the clear bright spark and it’s great to see him having a bigger impact again.

He was far from perfect, don’t get me wrong, but he took both goals well and was at least trying to create a spark throughout.

Diaz also changed the game when he came on, while Alisson and Joel Matip did their best, even if they weren’t perfect.

 

And the not so positive parts…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 1, 2022: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LIAM: I’ll try to keep it short.

Virgil van Dijk continues to look a shadow of his imperious 2018-2022 self.

Indeed, the defence in general looked all too willing to allow Brighton to maraud undeterred into dangerous territory.

James Milner and Jordan Henderson did little or nothing to silence the myriad of critics who feel that they belong to Liverpool’s past.

Kostas Tsimikas was nowhere near his best, either.

DAVID: The defending was woeful. So passive and ignorant of any danger.

Right now, you’d have to say any decent Premier League or Champions League-level coach would be able to spot the gaps they can exploit. We’re just too easy to play against.

At 3-2, I’m sitting there watching the clock, telling myself that we’ll probably be fine, like any top side should be after completing a comeback at home.

But what I’m seeing is giving me a bad feeling I can’t shake, and then sure enough, they get the equaliser.

Some might argue that Liverpool didn’t have the personnel to control the game but a lack of nous came into it, too. It always felt like at least one big chance would come Brighton’s way.

HENRY: Where to start!

That first half was absolutely pitiful – it felt like I was watching a bunch of strangers playing together who had once been best friends!

Trent was clearly awful but Van Djik, Tsimikas, Fabinho, Henderson and Salah were all far from their best, too.

Something just isn’t right at the moment, not helped by the spine of the team struggling, and I really hope it’s not because this is an ageing side running out of steam.

 

And how concerning is Trent’s form?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 1, 2022: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LIAM: If ever a player needed taking out of the firing line, it is Trent right now.

After an international break during which he unwittingly dominated the headlines, he had the chance to shush his doubters.

Instead, he loaded the gun for them to fire even more bullets.

Careless in possession and caught out for Brighton‘s second goal, this display is likely to further dent the right-back’s self-confidence.

It’s probably too big a risk to throw Calvin Ramsay into the team given how raw he is and that he’s only returning from injury, but it could be time to consider Joe Gomez at right-back for forthcoming matches.

He might not have looked entirely convincing of late, but right now it just seems like Trent needs to be given time and space to recharge, go again and get back to the levels that we know he can reach.

DAVID: This was tough to watch. At this moment in time, I have to admit that Trent is a net negative for this Liverpool side.

We’re not seeing enough attacking output to compensate for his shortcomings on the other side of the ball. If we had a version of Tsimikas on the right flank, he’d be in the team already.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 1, 2022: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I had hoped that Gareth Southgate’s snubs would leave Trent with a chip on his shoulder, like we saw at the back end of the 2020/21 season.

Unfortunately, however, his confidence seems to have been dented further. There was a real air of vulnerability about him.

HENRY: He will be absolutely fine, but it’s also important that we don’t ignore what is a really alarming slump.

Trent just looks so disengaged at the moment that I almost wonder if there is an on-pitch issue going on – they are just human beings, after all.

As Liam says, a spell out of the team could be required, but there just isn’t a tailor-made backup to come in and do a similar job.

I’d also argue that Klopp’s use of him in this more advanced central role isn’t working, so reverting to his former role would make sense.

Steven Gerrard had a massive dip at a similar age – I remember a shocking display in Basel when he got subbed at half-time – and he came through just like Trent will.

Onto Rangers…