Sanjay Nair discusses three talking points from Liverpool’s gritty 1-0 win over Brighton that extended their lead to seven points at the top of the Premier League table.
Liverpool travelled to Brighton in the wake of a mini-slump and even though injuries to key personnel had a considerable part to play in it, all eyes were on our Reds to see the kind of reaction we’d come up with.
The all-important three points were just what the doctor ordered and our title challenge is back on track after a singular blip at the Etihad. Below are three talking points from the win over the Seagulls.
Importance of bouncing back
Having lost their last league match at Man City, albeit in a close encounter, as well as in the FA Cup at Wolves, a win at Brighton assumed huge importance.
Anything but a win and Liverpool would be a labelled a team unable to handle the pressure of a sustained title challenge. More crucially, a Man City win on Monday night would see the lead cut to a solitary point.
Brighton, with a more than decent home record, was always going to be a difficult proposition under these circumstances. That we managed to dispel all such scenarios with yet another gritty win is the kind of mentality that eventual Champions display when presented with such challenges.
The pressure has been put back on Guardiola’s boys, who now cannot afford to slip up against Wolves on Monday night.
‘Mo’ment of Magic
The accolades keep coming and Mo Salah keeps on doing what he does best – winning games for Liverpool with moments of sheer brilliance. At the Amex stadium, it was another piece of trickery which forced Pascal Gross into making an ill-timed tackle in the box and concede the penalty.
Having stepped up to convert his 14th Premier League goal of the season, Salah should in all fairness have put the result beyond doubt late on, when he missed a simple opportunity inside the 6-yard box. That said, I doubt Klopp or anyone else will be paying too much attention to that.
Fast-approaching talisman status at Liverpool? YES. One-season wonder? HELL NO!!!
Centre backs cannot return soon enough
Fabinho may be a more-than-able stop-gap arrangement at centre back, especially if he is playing alongside Virgil van Dijk, but this should not take away the fact that it is his presence in midfield that is of far more importance to Liverpool.
Even against a Brighton side that was content on sitting back, there was no hiding the fact that a midfield of Henderson and Wijnaldum as the enforcers packed absolutely NO punch.
Henderson, in particular, was, at times, just wandering around aimlessly. Those responsible for getting the likes of Gomez, Matip and Lovren back on the field need to do so immediately, for the sole purpose of freeing up Fabinho and bringing the steel back into our midfield.
That said, with tougher games ahead and van Dijk unavailable for the first leg against Bayern, our regular centre-backs need all the match fitness they can get prior to that.
Over to you Pep!!!