Though it was another frustrating result for Liverpool, there were “positive signs” from Cody Gakpo as he continues to adjust to his new No. 9 role.
The Reds suffered again as they took on Brighton in the FA Cup, following up their 3-0 defeat in the Premier League with a 2-1 loss at the AMEX.
Harvey Elliott opened the scoring as he combined with Mohamed Salah in the first half, only for goals from Lewis Dunk and Kauro Mitoma to send the Seagulls through.
At a time when there is little optimism for Jurgen Klopp and his players, it is almost certainly made more difficult for Gakpo as he settles into the squad.
He is also doing so in a new position, having arrived as a left winger but being deployed as a central striker, with Klopp lauding his off-ball work before the game.
Yet to score or assist in five outings now, there could be concerns over the Dutchman’s output, but there are signs that Gakpo could be useful as the No. 9.
Jose Enrique is among those to have warmed to the idea, as fans took to social media to spot a silver lining in a miserable defeat.
I can see now with few more games of gakpo what klopp means about the similarities with firmino. He is more of a false number 9 like mane was, firmino is etc
— José enrique (@Jesanchez3) January 29, 2023
Starting to see what Gakpo can bring to the team playing through the middle…
— LFC Mumble (@lfcmumble) January 29, 2023
Muuuch much better from Gakpo today.
Protecting the ball well with his body.
Carrying the ball up the pitch.
Good pass selection.
Looking much more physical and aggressive too ?
— Kop End Fracas ? (@KopEndFracas) January 29, 2023
Thought Gakpo was much better today. Linked well and showed some pace just needs to become a threat in the box. some signs he’s starting to settle in. Midfield looked more energetic and got closer to the opposition. Forwards need to be more clinical and defence needs to improve
— Lewis ?????? (@lewieblue) January 29, 2023
Gakpo did show improvement. Biggest positive for me. Took some people on.
— Abhi (@IndianRobertson) January 29, 2023
“Gakpo’s best game in a Liverpool shirt so far and he was trying to link the play when Brighton weren’t fouling him. Maybe not an 8 performance but a solid 7.”
– James in the This Is Anfield comments section.
Gakpo has looked good when running from deep with the ball. Positive signs. Needs a goal though.
— Ian Mc (@McGlynnimino) January 29, 2023
Gakpo been much better today, just needs that first goal man and he’ll be fine
— ?? (#27) (@TheImmortalKop) January 29, 2023
Positives today: Konate excellent, midfield all good, Gakpo's best performance so far.
Performance was good then it went to shit when the subs were made. Yet again.
There are at least some improvenents on show, despite the result. And Brighton away is tough right now.
— Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) January 29, 2023
Two main positives from today in my eyes – Bajcetic played very well and Gakpo probably had his best game yet
— David Comerford (@Dave_Comerford) January 29, 2023
Cody Gakpo appreciation tweet.
He’s done well today. He’s shown great qualities. Give credit when it’s due.
— Watch LFC (@Watch_LFC) January 29, 2023
It is, perhaps, the worst possible time for a big-money signing to arrive and transition into a completely different role, but Gakpo is clearly making positive steps.
Nevertheless, it is a strange situation to ponder as Darwin Nunez, signed as a prolific centre-forward, is being deployed on the left while Gakpo, a winger who scored 13 and assisted 17 in 24 games for PSV Eindhoven this season, is up front.
Patience will be required – not only with Gakpo, of course – but there is a glimmer of promise for him as the leading man.