Jurgen Klopp offered an explanation for one struggling player staying on the pitch vs Brighton. Roberto Firmino didn’t have a lot going his way.
It was fairly clear early on that it wouldn’t be Roberto Firmino’s day against Brighton. The real moment that came to light was as he found himself in front of goal with only the keep to beat but fired well over the bar.
And that was largely Firmino’s day with the ball – this was nothing like what we’ve seen in recent weeks. He was very slow to release some passes, failed to play-in teammates when he should have done, and Brighton caught him in possession four times.
Yet Firmino lasted 78 minutes here with Diogo Jota waiting until late before getting his opportunity. So why was that? With the Brazilian struggling, Jota represented a clear alternative – yet Jurgen Klopp was reluctant to turn to him.
Klopp on struggling vs Brighton
Klopp’s comments after the game go some way to explaining why Liverpool kept Firmino on the pitch despite his poor game.
“The best way to defend Brighton is to have the ball yourself and that’s what we didn’t do for long enough,” said Klopp, per Liverpoolfc.com. “That’s why we scored the two goals, which were incredible, especially the two goals which were disallowed were incredible.”
Liverpool attack centrally at their best with Firmino as the False 9. That’s always pretty clear – he drops deep, links with players, and drags defenders around to create space.
Jota, on the other hand, looks to run in behind. He’s lethal when Liverpool stretch the play and get crosses into the box but that wasn’t the gameplan here.
The team just struggled to actually involve Firmino. He managed 36 touches in an impressive first-half but only 17 in his 34 second-half minutes. In fact, he only had the ball once in the final five minutes he was on the pitch.
Klopp hinted at that in his post-match interview, saying Liverpool just didn’t move the ball forward enough in the second half.
“In our good moments, we attacked the centre of Brighton, which is where you have to do it and then we didn’t do that anymore,” he said.
“We slowed the game down in the wrong moments. We didn’t show enough initiative in other moments and that’s then just not good enough.”
Once that became clear, Firmino left the pitch for Jota.
But it is worth mentioning Firmino’s defensive efforts here. Despite his struggles with the ball, he won three tackles in the game – more than any other Red.
Liverpool needed a balance here, then. It’s up for debate whether it was the right choice, though. Firmino struggled with the ball but he was the right player for what the team wanted to do.
The real question is whether Liverpool should have changed what they wanted to do far earlier. Given the result, it’s safe to say they probably should have.