Talking Points: Liverpool 4 Brighton and Hove Albion 0

Liverpool ended their Premier League campaign in style with a 4-0 win over Brighton at Anfield. First-half goals from Mo Salah and Dejan Lovren were followed by strikes after the break by Dom Solanke and Andy Robertson, and ensured a fourth-place finish and Champions League football for Jürgen Klopp’s side.

Salah claims further awards as he sets Reds on their way… 

Any concerns about Salah’s huge two league game streak without scoring were soon put to bed as the Egyptian netted in front of the Kop to score goal number 32 – thus claiming the new record of most goals scored in a 38 game Premier League season. He also clinched the Golden Boot as the winger finished two ahead of Harry Kane. Nobody could have dreamed of Salah having this kind of impact, and if his side go on to beat Real Madrid in the final, it would be near impossible to argue that this hasn’t been the greatest individual season a Liverpool player has had for a long time, and certainly better than Luis Suarez in 13/14. Salah knows how good he is, and confirmed after the game how eager he is to hit similar heights next season. His opener against Brighton set the Reds on their way, in a game in which one team were clearly content with their already-confirmed safety, but were still blown away by Liverpool’s attacking intent. It should have been 5-0 at half-time and about 7-0 at full-time if it weren’t for some wasteful decision making in the final third and, who would have guessed it, another referee deciding not to give blatant penalties at the Kop End. Still, let’s save some of those goals for the final, eh?

Solanke given chance to impress, and takes it…

Given James Milner’s absence from the matchday squad for the first time this season, Klopp turned to Solanke to take the midfielder’s place in an attacking move. Solanke has made many appearances this season, mainly cameos off the bench, but was still to score in a Liverpool shirt. Thankfully that changed when Salah’s superb run and pass slid in Solanke, who’s extremely well-taken finish went in off the bar and into the top corner. As well as providing the assist for Salah’s goal, it was a good all-round performance from Solanke, who couldn’t have asked for better service with the fab three behind him and two fullbacks who can deliver a wicked cross. The striker had some nice touches and flicks and combined well with his teammates. It was crucial that he delivered in this match, and in doing so has proven there is a good striker in there somewhere. However, the right move for Solanke next season could well be a loan where he can get regular football. Something similar to what Tammy Abraham had at Swansea this season could do Solanke the world of good, and provide further evidence for whether or not he can cut it at this level.

Formation change could indicate next season’s plans…

The aforementioned Solanke starting upfront meant a formation change for Klopp as his side switched to a 4231 formation, with Roberto Firmino playing a bit deeper than usual. Against a Brighton side more than happy to sit deep it worked really well, as all of the Reds’ attackers could get into goal scoring positions and await service from the midfield or fullbacks. The 4231 was what Klopp mainly deployed at Dortmund and in his first season at Liverpool, and it could well be what his side play next season if the rumours surrounding Nabil Fekir are true. The fact that James ‘Bad News’ Pearce and other reliable Liverpool journalists haven’t quashed them yet is a very good sign. If Fekir did arrive, he would be best as the central attacking midfielder playing off of Firmino and providing a substantial goal threat. The formation would also benefit the incoming Naby Keita, who’s best football for RB Leipzig came as the more advanced of a midfield two. In the big games a 433 would still work well, but to break down parked buses, a 4231 could well be the way to go.

Confidence sky high ahead of Kiev finale…

Clean sheet, four goals with two of them being individuals’ first goals for the club and another a record-breaking one, seemingly no new injuries. The win against Brighton ticked plenty of boxes and means that the group of players will be positive and confident ahead of the two weeks of training and a certain Champions League final. A slip-up today or a bad injury to a crucial player and all of a sudden doubt creeps in, but thankfully that is not the case. Another positive was the cameo of Adam Lallana, who, unlike his previous appearances in his first comeback this season, looked quick, lively and a threat. Lallana’s return has come at a crucial time and it adds another player to the list of people who Klopp can trust to bring off the bench against Real Madrid in the final. That bench will also have some goal-scoring confidence with both Danny Ings and Solanke now having found the net before the season’s close. It is unlikely that anyone else will return from injury before the final, so Klopp knows what he will have to work with. His players just need to believe in themselves and do the business on the pitch.

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