Liverpool broke their mini-run of poor form with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Brighton on the south coast. But what were the key stats from a vital victory at the Amex?
Salah The Difference Yet Again
How many times is Mo Salah going to be the man to drag Liverpool out of a hole? Salah has now scored nine goals to give Liverpool the lead in games, all nine of which the Reds have won, and three of those they’ve won 1-0, including now both games against Brighton. This is also the 4th penalty Salah has won this season, and the third time in four games that he’s won a penalty that he’s then converted himself. His ability to conjure situations from nothing is incredible.
Overall, Salah was once again Liverpool’s best attacking player by a mile, with 3/3 dribbles (most in the game), winning two free-kicks (joint-most in the game), creating three chances (joint-most in the game and most for LFC) worth 0.2 xA and having two big chances himself, including the penalty which he scored. Salah was the spark and the difference in the second half and it’s great to see him playing close to his best consistently again.
What Defensive Crisis?
With Liverpool suffering a massive defensive injury crisis, Fabinho was asked to fill in at centre-back and did a more than amicable job there. Fab was the pick of the defenders with 4/4 aerial duels, a tackle, an interception, five clearances and two blocked shots, although he was also dribbled once.
Notably, Liverpool once again found a way to dominate the opposition in the air, with VVD and Fabinho 11/12 for all aerials and 10/10 for defensive aerials, the ever-imperious Van Dijk doing what he does best, winning everything in the air. What was also important was Henderson’s contribution ahead of them, winning 3/3 tackles in the middle of the park.
But with defensive numbers, the proof really is in the pudding and Liverpool’s pudding is the fact that Brighton created just 0.37 xG, with 0 big chances, 0 shots on target and just four shots inside the box. Whilst Brighton are hardly the most fluid attacking team, it’s worth noting that it was nearly ten months before today when they last failed to score at home – a run of 13 games stretching to their 2-0 defeat to Leicester in March.
Second Half Show As Reds Bounce Back
Liverpool still haven’t lost back to back Premier League games under Jürgen Klopp and their second half display was a huge reason why. The Reds have been in front at half-time in 13 of their 17 league wins, with their five previous 0-0s at HT yielding three wins and two draws. Interestingly, despite having been in front at half-time in the vast majority of games, Liverpool also have the best second half goal-difference in the PL, which is a testament to how effectively they’ve closed out games this season.
This is Liverpool’s 13th clean sheet of the season, their 12th win without conceding and their 4th 1-0 win. When Liverpool have scored first in games, the only team to take points off them is Arsenal at the Emirates, with the Reds’ record now 16 wins and a draw from 17 games where they’ve scored first. That’s the main reason that they’re where they are now, with a phenomenal 57 points from 22 league games.