Liverpool exited the FA Cup with a performance that was improved for the most-part but still severely lacking in areas.
Brighton 2-1 Liverpool
FA Cup Fourth Round, Amex Stadium
January 29, 2023
Goals: Elliot 30′ Dunk 39′ Mitoma 90+2′
Alisson Becker – 6
During what has been a rare sticky patch for Brazil and Liverpool’s number 1, he had very little culpability in Liverpool’s exit from the competition.
Alisson dealt with a number of dangerous episodes from wide areas with authority and could do very little to prevent the double deflection that resulted in Lewis Dunk pencilling his name on the scoresheet, nor the winner which was flashed in from close range.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6
A crucial goal-line clearance early on bookmarked a reunion with Kaoru Mitoma, a meeting which presented the full-back with an afternoon of pain two weeks prior.
Mitoma still caused problems, as he will continue to do for Premier League defenders owing to his undeniable quality, but Trent won’t be going home facing the same amount of nightmares as he may have done following the previous fixture.
Looked very unhappy to be subbed on the hour, and TV cameras caught him giving Klopp a stare.
Ibrahima Konate – 7
Another assured performance from a player who appears to be growing into his role as one of the club’s most important defensive assets even at the age of just 23.
He was a little fortunate with a risky challenge on Mac Allister late on, but it should do little to detract from another showing in which he demonstrated his immeasurably high ceiling.
Joe Gomez – 6
It has quietly been an extended spell in the side for Liverpool’s forgotten centre-back following the injury to Virgil van Dijk.
It is a defensive pairing that has been formed through necessity rather than design, but they look increasingly comfortable alongside one another and in the absence of the defensive talisman it can be no bad thing.
However, he is the man at the scene of the crime for Mitoma’s winner. You could say it is difficult to be overly critical given the technique and composure the winger displayed.
Andy Robertson – 6
The Scotland captain is a crucial member of Jurgen Klopp’s leadership team, but it was a first start with the Liverpool armband as he led out his side on the south coast.
He didn’t have a great deal of joy going forwards but it was an adequate 90 minutes given the additional responsibility on his shoulders and the challenges he faced in the opposite direction.
Then it’s his late challenge that ultimately leads to the winner, giving away a foul in a dangerous area from a tired challenge – summing up the problems in this squad.
Stefan Bajcetic – 8
The 18-year-old Spaniard continues to be trusted by the manager in sides that would be considered full strength, and perhaps the biggest compliment you can currently pay him is that he doesn’t look remotely out of place.
Bajcetic displayed experience beyond his years once more in the holding midfield role, with calmness in tight spaces and some solid interceptions, reading the play well.
A true gem who could save Liverpool an awful lot of money in the summer.
Thiago Alcantara – 7
A pleasure to watch as always. Received a bit of a kicking in the first period but played another crucial role in a midfield three in which all parties looked aware of their own role within the game plan.
The circumstances weren’t particularly conducive to a Thiago masterclass, but it was a more than competent showing in which he provided defensive support to Bajcetic when needed as well as his offensive offerings.
Naby Keita – 7
It is three consecutive starts for the Guinean, and aside from having a hand in the build-up to the opening goal (no pun intended), it was a well-rounded display as he continues his claims for regular game time.
The progressive nature of his passing and movement was extremely positive to see, and as things stand it would be difficult to make an argument against starting that same midfield against Wolves.
Harvey Elliott – 8
Plenty was made of Elliott’s struggles from the left against Chelsea, but the manager persevered and was vindicated within half an hour as the teenager swept in a composed finish to put the visitors in front.
Like the rest of the attack, was better in the first half than the second.
Mohamed Salah – 6
It was a lively start for the Egyptian, looking far more involved in proceedings than has been the case in recent weeks. A big miss came 25 minutes in as he dragged a one-on-one wide of Jason Steele’s goal.
A perfectly weighted pass set up the opening goal, but he faded somewhat as the second half wore on and Brighton appeared to figure out a defensive plan for him, something which has been the case far too often in recent weeks.
Four games without a goal is a concern.
Cody Gakpo – 8
It has without doubt been a difficult start for Gakpo as he settles into life on Merseyside, but he became a real handful for Brighton and constantly looked to create and expose gaps where possible.
He was handed his fifth start for the club against a total of just three opponents (Wolves, Chelsea and Brighton), and when he dropped slightly deeper to receive possession he looked a lot more comfortable when bringing the ball forward and asking questions of defenders.
Not an easy environment to come into but the changes certainly made the side regress, Milner was unfortunately one of the examples of that on this occasion.
Brings energy and excitement whenever he is introduced, but a well-drilled Brighton kept him at bay for the majority.
Replaced one of the best players on the pitch at a time when Liverpool were showing signs of momentum and offered little going forwards.
Showed flashes, but Liverpool were on a sliding trajectory to the inevitable by the time he was introduced. Horrific free kick at the death.
Was fortunate that his afternoon was not the shortest of his career following a reckless challenge on Evan Ferguson. He’s a major worry.
Subs not used: Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tsimikas, Matip, Kelleher
Jurgen Klopp – 5
Taking injuries into account, Klopp fielded arguably Liverpool’s strongest team based on current form and fitness. Meritocracy is good to see, at least.
It was a much-improved first half performance, but the second 45 appeared to get worse as it went on, and has been the case at times this season the substitutes did little to influence proceedings.
There will perhaps be a small part of the manager that is pleased at the avoidance of another replay and another fixture, and he will have also been encouraged by some of the football served up in the early stages.
The major blot on his copy sheet is the subs, which actually made the Reds worse.