Scott Groom explains why Liverpool’s pragmatism is their deadliest weapon after the Reds beat Brighton 1-0 at the Amex on Saturday afternoon.
Liverpool got back to winning ways against a resilient Brighton at the Amex this weekend, with Mohamed Salah’s penalty proving to be the difference between the two sides.
It was a game that everybody, including Jürgen Klopp, knew would be one where Liverpool would have to be patient and pick the right moment to get the better of a Chris Hughton side that was well disciplined and didn’t give the Reds too many opportunities.
That is largely how things panned out, and regardless of their levels of performance, Liverpool once again found a way to win when they were far from their scintillating best.
And that has been a reoccurring theme this season and is one of the biggest differences that has been made since Klopp took the reigns at Anfield back in 2015.
In his first two seasons, it was clear that Klopp had begun something of a revolution at Liverpool, transforming the team’s style into one of the most exhilarating attacking teams in Europe – but there was a clear Achilles heel in his side’s vulnerability defensively.
The issue of a leaky defence has certainly been remedied this season, but even last season, questions remained as to how capable the Reds were at grinding out results against teams that made life difficult for them.
Remember the frustrating draws against sides like Burnley at Anfield? The predictable Mourinho ‘park the bus routine’ that earned United a point on their travels? The game against Brighton this weekend threatened to be another afternoon like that.
But this season, Liverpool have really turned a corner, and once more got the job done.
With their newly found defensive rigidity, it gives the team more belief that they can go anywhere and get a result, as they’re now less likely than ever to concede silly goals on the counter or from set pieces than they have been in recent memory.
Combine this with the fact that the team is full of attacking intent and houses arguably Europe’s most potent attacking trio of Salah, Mané and Firmino, and you have a recipe for success.
Now, as we have seen in the past, this hasn’t always been enough to grind out results against teams like Brighton, and the aforementioned Burnleys and Manchester Uniteds of this world.
But taking into account the personnel, combined with a fresh, stronger, more patient mindset that Klopp has instilled in his squad this season, and you have a Liverpool side that never thinks about panicking when the result is perhaps going the way they’d like it.
Instead, there’s due diligence across the field, composure in every department and a belief that the job will get done no matter how or when.
That is what has been happening all season and it’s arguably one of Liverpool’s most dangerous attributes at present.
The class, skill and technique of the players is something that’ll never disappear – even if it may sometimes show itself in fits and starts – but this mindset is also staying put and that makes Liverpool so hard to play against.
They are doing what all good potential champions do and just cracking on with their job, getting games won in whatever way necessary and keeping the chasing pack at arms’ length.
Yes, from a fan’s perspective, it’d be lovely to see incredible fast-paced, heart racing football every game, but sometimes that’s what leaves you exposed and vulnerable, so the pragmatism that Liverpool have shown this season really is a necessary new string to their bow.
It’s something that needs to continue if this title challenge is to be sustained, and as long as it does, Klopp’s Reds will be big players in the race for the title.
After all, would it matter if we won the league with boring 1-0 wins? I think it’d just be remembered as a title winning season by one of the most resilient Liverpool teams we’ve ever seen. So I’m happy with that.