Liverpool lost 0-1 to Brighton at Anfield on Wednesday. Here are five things we learned on a very disappointing day.
Not quite back
After two wonderful results that showed Liverpool at their brilliant best, this was a reminder that there’s still work to do. Liverpool losing 0-1 at home to Brighton is as good a reminder as you can get, really.
The Reds started very slowly and weren’t fluid at all – and then never really improved that.
Hopefully, it just means there’s more to come. With players coming back and new signings to settle, Liverpool are going to get better.
Earn your place
Liverpool signed two new defenders, of course, but they’ll face a fight from Nat Phillips. This wasn’t the 23-year-old’s best outing, though.
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He struggled to handle Dan Burns in the air, with this being far and away his worst aerial performance. Although, Phillips did still win twice as many headers as any other Red.
This just wasn’t enough for Phillips to hold out against the new signings. We expect to see him again but it wasn’t the performance he’ll have hoped for.
Liverpool need Diogo Jota back for games like this. That is, they need him for when Sadio Mane is out.
Xherdan Shaqiri started on the left wing but struggled. He can’t cut in from that flank and it hurts his natural game.
So Liverpool started the second half with a new idea. Roberto Firmino went to the left, Mohamed Salah played down the middle, and Shaqiri was on the right.
This isn’t ideal either, though. Firmino, in particular, is much better in his normal role down the middle. The Brazilian just isn’t a natural winger.
Jota will cover that flank really well, though, and should bring much better balance once he returns.
Liverpool have a big goalkeeping decision to make. Is Alisson reliable enough?
Now, obviously, we’re not suggesting Liverpool even consider replacing him. But they do need to decide on the quality of their no.2.
With the Brazilian missing as often as he is, their backup goalkeeper ends up playing quite a lot. Is Caoimhin Kelleher good enough to play that often?
He very well may be but if Liverpool have any doubts, they’ll need to bring in a more sure-thing. It certainly asks a question for the summer.
Mohamed Salah wasn’t at his sharpest in front of goal. It happens. Sometimes, he’s absolutely lethal (see the weekend) but there will be games where things don’t click.
Only, Liverpool were utterly dependant on Salah for their goals. With him off form, no one else looked capable of finding the back of the net.
It’s a big problem. Hopefully, Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane rectify it with their returns. Liverpool better hope they do.