Talking Points: Liverpool 1 Brighton 0

Mo Salah’s first-half goal ensured Liverpool made it three wins from three and moved two points clear at the top of the Premier League. Brighton made things difficult for J├╝rgen Klopp’s side, but another clean sheet for the Reds was enough to seal the win.

Reds made to work for victory but improvement from previous seasons clear…

All the standard sayings and cliches will be tossed around after Saturday’s win, but grinding out results and winning when you don’t play well, are proven factors that title challenges and most importantly title wins, are built upon. This was a game that Klopp’s side certainly would have dropped points in in recent seasons – when the Reds were often unable to find ways past well-organised and drilled defences, while their own defending would be let down by lapses in concentration and mistakes that gave sides who came to park the bus, the crucial goals they were searching for. But this season things are different, and the quality of players throughout the team combined with a change in mentality and hunger to keep clean sheets means this Liverpool side will now frequently win matches even when nowhere near their best. They now go into games with the belief they will keep a clean sheet, which then provides the comfort of only needing one goal to claim all the spoils – which Salah duly provided.

Change needed for Leicester trip to revitalise attacking play…

Klopp named an unchanged team yet again for the encounter, but surely the German knows that his sides’ trip to Leicester next Saturday must see him make a switch in his midfield or attack. The fluidity and dynamism of the Reds’ attacking play has declined over the course of their opening three games, with the link-up between Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino nowhere near the levels it was at last season. The build-up play was far too slow for the majority of the Brighton game, while the movement actually hindered Liverpool at times with spaces becoming overcrowded and important attacking positions not being taken up. Something has got to change, and while the front three need to start at the King Power, a change in midfield definitely needs to occur. The two options being between Jordan Henderson and, if Klopp is willing to go very attacking, Xherdan Shaqiri. If Shaqiri was chosen you could argue Henderson would need to start anyway to provide balance to the midfield, but Klopp needs to try something different and although it will be a tough choice between Gini Wijnaldum and James Milner as to who to drop – there’s no way Naby Keita can’t start – it is one that needs to be made.

First-half goals and quick starts proving pivotal…

The game against Brighton is exactly the kind of game where taking the lead in the first-half – ideally even the first 30 minutes – can be the difference between winning and dropping points. If an opposing team comes with a game-plan of going as long as possible without conceding and frustrating you for as long as possible, then scoring early against them is the perfect antidote. In all three matches now, Liverpool have been leading at half-time, and you only need to recall the superb winning run under Brendan Rodgers in the 13/14 season to know how matches can be killed off before the break. Now a 1-0 lead at half-time of course doesn’t kill a game off and Klopp will demand that a second goal comes much quicker from his side in future games, but it does certainly help as it sets the crowd at ease and relaxes the players slightly. The best teams go on to win the majority of their matches when they score first, and Liverpool will need to do likewise in order to rack up the vast number of wins they will need to win the title.

Alisson’s involvement grows as he continues to impress… 

The Brazilian goalkeeper still hasn’t had a massive amount of work to do in matches in a Liverpool shirt, but Saturday’s game was probably the busiest he has been, and he yet again proved why the Club spent big money on him. A few simple but required saves, combined with confident punching from crosses and some dazzling footwork on the ball meant it was another really positive game for Alisson, who is looking right at home in Klopp’s imposing back five. In the first-half he completed 100% of his passes, while after the break his little chip over Anthony Knockaert who was closing him down produced huge cheers from the Anfield crowd. Being the type of modern-day goalkeeper that he is, there will undoubtedly be times when Alisson will hold onto the ball for a second too long or try an unnecessarily risky pass. But Klopp will want him to play this way and keep being proactive and adventurous, and we will certainly see plenty of clean sheets for the Brazilian this season.

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