Talking Points: Brighton 1 Liverpool 5

Liverpool produced a five-star performance at the Amex to dismantle Brighton and move into the top four for at least a few hours. A double from Roberto Firmino, as well as an own goal from Lewis Dunk and goals from Emre Can and Philippe Coutinho capped off an excellent display.

Crazy tactics work out well for Klopp… 

Amidst yesterday’s news of Joel Matip now being out injured until the new year, it was always going to be interesting to see how Jürgen Klopp would look to rest and rotate his defence in the coming weeks. Some fans thought Joe Gomez might be given a chance at centre-back – something I’m sure we will see soon – but nobody could have predicted the German would play three at the back with Can at right centre-back and Gini Wijnaldum at left centre-back! Absolute madness, but to be fair to Klopp, it worked fairly successfully. Dejan Lovren sat back and swept up, while Can, Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson and James Milner formed a box that gave a good amount of protection and denied Brighton any chance of counter-attacking. Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold were given freedom to attack as wingbacks in support of the dangerous front three of Coutinho, Mo Salah and Firmino. The system allowed Can and Wijnaldum to still play as creators as Brighton sitting off gave the pair little defending to do. The only weakness was WIjnaldum being unable to use his left foot and always having to pass back to Mignolet, but it was another tactical tweak from Klopp and it is great to see him adding more strings to his bow.

Philippe. Coutinho. Superstar…

It was simply one of, if not the, best individual performance of the season. Coutinho has been accused of being nowhere near his normal standards in recent weeks, but against Brighton Coutinho made everything look so very easy. It was just party stuff from the Brazilian, dribbling past anyone he pleased and being involved heavily in the goals. Coutinho took the corner which Can headed home for the first, before crossing for Firmino to tap home the second. In the second half, he won and took a free kick in a dangerous position, cheekily sliding it under the jumping Brighton wall. Coutinho wasn’t even done there as he added another contribution before the final whistle – his shot being diverted into his own net by Dunk. It was a real pleasure just to watch Coutinho on Saturday, and he showed exactly why Barcelona are willing to pay so much for him. Who knows how much longer he will be at Liverpool, but we should certainly enjoy it while he is on Merseyside.

Reds’ refereeing luck doesn’t last long… 

Even Klopp himself admitted that Simon Mignolet was very fortunate not to have been sent off against Stoke on Wednesday, but most Liverpool fans agreed it was about time their side benefited from an incorrect officiating decision given how often the likes of Arsenal and Man United do. Unfortunately, this luck has already gone down the toilet after referee Graham Scott produced some bad errors in the game against Brighton. Minutes after Liverpool made it 3-0, the home side were awarded a penalty when Henderson was adjudged to have pushed Shane Duffy in the back. Henderson’s hand was on Duffy’s back, but there was absolutely nowhere near enough contact to warrant a foul or Duffy flinging himself to the floor. Later in the second half, it was Liverpool’s turn to appeal for a penalty, and they were somehow denied a blatant one when Coutinho’s shot was batted away by Dunk’s arm. Two bad decisions by Scott and Klopp will be happy the decisions didn’t cost his side any points in the end.

Win keeps great run going ahead of big week…

While some rival fans may argue it was only Brighton who the Reds beat, this was a side who hadn’t lost at home since the opening day of the season when Man City even struggled to score past them. Thus the win should be looked at with real positivity by Liverpool, who yet again found a way past a deep block defence early in the first half and make things so much easier for themselves by doubling their lead. The victory lifts them into fourth for now ahead of Man United’s game with Arsenal later on, and Klopp and his players have found some real belief and mojo ahead of two more crucial games. In the next week or so Liverpool can seal progression into the Champions League knockout stages – hopefully progressing as group winners – as well as claiming another derby win against rivals Everton who have started to build back some momentum with new boss Sam Allardyce. Two more wins and things will be looking extremely good for the Reds.

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