Brighton 2 – 2 Liverpool – The Postmortem 

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Brighton 2 – 2 Liverpool – The Postmortem

This was the very next Premier League game, after the circus show that unfolded at White Hart Lane last Saturday evening. With a Europa League game successfully navigated under the Anfield lights in midweek, it perhaps gave the indication that the Japan captain, Wataru Endō, would be the sensible starting piece to replace the suspended Curtis Jones. There was a sense that Ryan Gravenberch could not start two games in four days, given his slow and steady build to match fitness. Despite my hope that it would be Wataru starting, it was in fact Harvey Elliott that was chosen to move from his preferred wing forward position, to occupy the right-hand side of midfield. With that, Dominik Szoboszlai then moved to the left and Alexis Mac Allister stayed in his unfamiliar holding midfield position. The number of changes that were involved for one midfield change seemed unwarranted, yet that seems to be the way sometimes.

At right back, the chosen body to combat the brilliant Brighton flyer, Kaoru Mitoma, was Trent Alexander Arnold, who returned to weekend duties in place of the unlucky Joe Gomez. The remainder of the team was as expected.

Jürgen Klopp’s starting line-up is listed below.

The Starting Eleven

Alisson Becker

Trent Alexander Arnold

Virgil van Dijk (c)

Joël Matip

Andy Robertson

Alexis Mac Allister

Dominik Szoboszlai

Harvey Elliott

Mohamed Salah

Darwin Núñez

Luis Díaz

Subs

Ryan Gravenberch – Harvey Elliott (45 mins)

Ibrahima Konaté – Joël Matip (73 mins)

Joe Gomez – Trent Alexander Arnold (80 mins)

Goals

Brighton 1 – 0 Liverpool

Simon Adingra (Mac Allister Intercept), 20 mins

Brighton 1 – 1 Liverpool

Mohamed Salah (Darwin Núñez), 40 mins

Brighton 1 – 2 Liverpool

Mohamed Salah (Penalty), 45+1 mins

Brighton 2 – 2 Liverpool

Lewis Dunk (Olly March), 78 mins

The First Half

The opening period of the game saw Liverpool trying to play Brighton at their own tactical game. The deep-lying possession and desire to trap on rushing attackers is becoming very common with elite footballing coaches. Roberto De Zerbi has built a brilliant system on top of the previously safe and effective version that Graham Potter once implemented. Liverpool were completely undone on numerous occasions last season, as Brighton continually had their way with an old and tired Anfield team. This opening section of the game was a tactical stand-off at times, until a trio of players in red dropped the ball and created a horrible goal to concede. The keep-ball enterprise ended with Ali being caught out of position, allowing Simon Adingra to slot the ball into the half-open goal. From then on, the commonality of conceding first did not deter the visiting team, as the Reds rallied to create the chances that took them into the break with an unworthy 1-2 lead. Despite Albion looking like the stronger side, it was the incisive play of the Reds’ attacking assets that brought about Mohamed Salah’s first goal. Some smart off-ball work and direct passing left the Egyptian King with the time to slot beyond the keeper, as momentum suddenly swung in Jürgen Klopp’s favour.

Just a few minutes later, more quick interplay allowed Dominik Szoboszlai the run on the Seagull’s backline, which resulted in a foul and eventual penalty kick, which was expertly dispatched by our top scorer. At that point, the 1-2 score line should have seen Brighton also reduced to ten men, given the foul stopped a clear and obvious goal-scoring opportunity. VAR did not even look at the offence for a potential red card, as that would be too logical.

The Second Half

On resumption of the second half, Ryan Gravenberch appeared in place of Harvey Elliott, to take up a place on the left of midfield. The 6ft 3inch Dutchman was unlucky not to add a third Liverpool goal, as his Hungarian teammate (now playing from the right) flew past the retreating rearguard, before driving a shot come cross to the back post. A difficult, rising ball was met by the former Bayern Munich midfielder, only for the bar to prevent him from scoring in his first Premier League game. As the match progressed, Virgil and his men controlled certain periods of play without ever threatening to extend their lead. This kind of tactic was once employed, knowing that a nearly impenetrable defence would see out the game, as a one-goal advantage in 2019 would simply have been enough to secure the win. Unfortunately, vulnerability prevailed in the ongoing threat from Solly March and Kaoru Mitoma, which eventually led to a free kick that was met by the unchallenged Lewis Dunk. In this moment, Andy Robertson had the chance to clear at the near post, yet hesitancy saw the ball travel onwards, before finding its way into the Reds’ net.

What Are My Final Thoughts…?

It is impossible not to be disappointed with the officiating once again, as a clear red card offence (that resulted in a penalty) was ignored for some unfathomable reason. Despite this fact, a point away to such a strong footballing team is good, while having 17 points from eight games played is a solid start that can be built upon, especially with a favourable forthcoming fixture list.

Pre-game prediction:

Brighton 1 – 3 Liverpool

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