Jack Hallows discusses the major talking points that surfaced in the wake of Liverpool’s 1-0 home victory over Brighton & Hove Albion.
Liverpool Football Club have actually been superb in the start to the 2018/19 Premier League season without really operating at top gear.
A wiping of West Ham in the Reds’ opening fixture was followed by a professional victory at Crystal Palace on Monday night and while Brighton proved a sterner test, resulting in our famous attack only managing one goal, our boys still didn’t look stretched.
As ever though, despite winning the game and leaving with all three points, there were still a number of points for discussion following the victory so let’s dive straight in!
The Joe Gomez love-in continues!
Virgil van Dijk was absolutely imperious at Selhurst Park on Monday evening and it was a real credit to Joe Gomez that he was mentioned in the same breath as his senior counterpart following that fixture.
Gomez had been impressive in the Reds’ opening two matches, looking assured and confident in his preferred position but much of the talk still centred around the world-class behemoth he was partnering.
Against Brighton however, Virgil had a rare off day and where with the Dutchman’s previous defensive partners that’s been a problem for the Reds, Gomez simply stepped his own game up another level.
The 21-year old received his highest WhoScored rating of the season so far with a 7.62/10 (we rated him an 8), making him the third highest rated player on the pitch behind Trent Alexander-Arnold (7.7) and Mohamed Salah (8.1) but it’s not unfair to suggest he maybe deserved higher!
Gomez made one interception, five clearances, won seven aerial duels (equal most on the pitch with Glenn Murray) and completed 104 passes over the 90 minutes in a truly assured defensive performance.
Where James Milner in midfield is consistently looking younger than his 32 years by putting in the miles, Gomez confident performances are consistently making the 21-year old look far more mature than his own age suggests.
Long may it continue.
An off-day for the front three
It’s not really that much of a bad thing when your attacking line-ups off day still results in a goal and an assist performance over the three of them.
However, it was definitely a frustrating afternoon for Liverpool’s much talked about attacking trio, with Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané spurning glorious first half chances to get themselves on the scoresheet alongside Salah.
It is, however, just the nature of football and not something for Liverpool fans to worry about.
There is no attack in world football that fires literally every single match for an entire season and while last campaign we were spoiled during the second half by constant fireworks from Salah, Mané and Firmino, it’s worth remembering they started that campaign in a slow manner too.
After three games last time round, Firmino and Salah both had two goals and Mané had three. The Reds in total had eight but had conceded three on the opening day against Watford and had also come up against a poor, Arsenal side who played a suicidally high line and open brand of football.
After three games this season, Salah has two once again, Mané has three once again while Firmino is yet to score, he still has a pair of assists.
With their newfound defensive resilience, Liverpool aren’t having to overcommit men forward, scoring 3-4 every week in order to win games.
While it is nice when they do – and believe me, it’ll still happen frequently once the front three do get in their rhythm – one or two will do and that is the sign of a good, well-balanced footballing side.
Mo Salah and Anfield… A match made in heaven?
If anyone’s going to win Liverpool a game by scoring their only goal, you can generally bet your bottom dollar that it’s going to be Mohamed Salah. Especially, at Anfield.
In 21 Premier League outings on home turf for the Reds, our Egyptian King has a 1:1 ratio, scoring 21 times and even when you open the picture up to include all competitions, the form continues with 29 of his 46 Liverpool goals coming in 29 appearances at Anfield.
In fact, the only home games in which he’s featured from the start and failed to score for the Reds on home soil are last season’s matches against Crystal Palace (1-0), Manchester United (0-0), West Bromwich Albion (0-0), Huddersfield (3-0), Swansea (5-0) and Stoke City (0-0).
Those scorelines suggest that when he doesn’t score at home, it’s generally because the opposition are generally playing with ten men behind the ball.
How about the two victories over Huddersfield and Swansea though? What went on there?
Well, he was simply too busy assisting his teammates, having a hand in three of the eight goals despite not putting any of them in the net himself!
I know this is the last place I have to explain Mohamed Salah’s brilliance but sometimes, it’s just nice to sit there and remind ourselves.
Alisson keeps his cool
Speaking of nice reminders, how great is it to look between the sticks and see Alisson standing there barking orders, spraying incredible 40-yard passes or even, clipping the ball over an onrushing Anthony Knockaert without so much as a batting of his eyelids.
Clean sheets, great saves, impressive concentration levels, stellar distribution and fancy footwork. What can’t this keeper do?
The Brazilian’s most impressive moment perhaps came when he was forced into a brilliant reflex save from substitute Pascal Groß just minutes from time.
The save protected his third clean sheet on the bounce, making him only the fourth goalkeeper in the last 51 seasons to have kept a clean sheet in the first three matches of a campaign.
When Petr Cech joined Arsenal from London rivals Chelsea back in 2015, Jose Mourinho claimed the goalkeeper was consistently worth 10-15 points through the saves he made.
So far so good, with Alisson already earning the Reds two.
Top of the table as Reds’ take advantage of rival blunder
We’re only three games in but Liverpool are top of the table with three wins from three, no goals conceded to seven scored and best of all, we’re not even playing as well as we can yet.
Meanwhile, Wolves pulled off a stunner of a result by taking a point from their game against reigning champions Manchester City, holding on to achieve a 1-1 draw despite facing a late barrage from Guardiola’s men.
This was another step forward for Liverpool who, kicking off a couple of hours later than City, took advantage of their rivals slip up by completing a hard-fought victory against a Brighton side buoyed by a 3-2 win over Manchester United last weekend.
Whereas in the past Liverpool have been guilty of failing to capitalise when their rivals drop points, Mohamed Salah and the Reds’ solid defence ensured that no such occurrence would be allowed on this occasion.
Let’s be honest, Manchester City aren’t going to drop many points this season and this result with Wolves represents an outlier far more than a trend that’s going to develop.
If however, Liverpool can continue picking up points when the reigning champions do drop them, they’ll ensure that they really can push them all the way in the race for the title.