I’m getting mighty tired of these nail-biters. One regular day of Barclays, that’s all I ask for. Right now, it doesn’t look as if it will happen. Despite that, with Leicester still to play, the Reds are a massive 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League with 14 games played. Despite the best efforts of Alisson and Martin Atkinson, we held on to clinch another 3 points.
It was a real moment of madness from our Brazilian number 1. Up until that point he had been very solid, with just one notable misplaced pass after a slip. However, following a long ball played in behind our defence, he took it upon himself to rush out of his box and, while in no man’s land, had no option but to concede a goal or take the red card. He elected to choose the latter option and handled outside his area, preventing a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Onto the defenders and some of the blame for the goal has to be placed on their shoulders as, when 2-0 up and in control, a simple hoof up the field should not cause so much trouble. Aside from the Alisson red card situation, though, the backline was assured. Brighton created very few chances and, despite it being nervy towards the end, they never really looked like scoring (unless they were gifted a goal by the referee). Trent Alexander-Arnold showed his class in an attacking sense once again as he assisted both goals – one from a corner and the other from a wide free kick. Incredibly, they were both nodded home by yet another defender, Virgil van Dijk. It felt like quite a while since the big Dutchman’s last goal and then he pops up with 2 in the space of 6 minutes.
The less said about the midfield, the better. The absence of Fabinho was always going to be felt, but this performance in the middle of the park was very disappointing. Jordan Henderson in particular appeared to struggle. I think we had all hoped that we’d seen the last of the captain in the number 6 role, however that was not the case. In the coming weeks without Fabinho, Wijnaldum simply has to play deepest and, if Henderson is going to feature, he must be one of the more advanced midfielders.
The attack struggled to make too much of an impact. Sadio Mané was the most dangerous of the three by far, pulling off a number of driving runs from deep to get us up the pitch and into promising positions. Salah is clearly still feeling the effects of that horror tackle from Hamza Choudhury a number of weeks back, while Roberto Firmino was far from his usual self.
Man of the Match was a pretty easy choice this week, I’m giving it to Virgil van Dijk. He was defensively sound throughout and also proved to be the match-winner with 2 goals in the first half.