Jurgen Klopp knows where Liverpool went wrong against Brighton on Saturday. Injuries, however, seriously limited his options to fix it.
Liverpool raced into a 2-0 lead against Brighton on Saturday. At first, the Reds looked fantastic, pressing high and making things happen. It was the ideal follow-on from the win over Manchester United.
And then things took a turn. Brighton found confidence with a first-half goal and came out for the second half swinging.
They moved forward with confidence, pushed high and really worried Liverpool. They equalising goal felt quite inevitable in the end as the Reds struggled.
So what happened? Jurgen Klopp believes the mistake was fairly obvious.
“Against Brighton, the best way of defending would have been to keep the ball, to play football we played in our good periods, in the first half especially,” he said, per Liverpoolfc.com.
“That’s what we didn’t do and that was my problem.
“I knew before the game that we would have problems in moments against Brighton because all teams had it so far.”
Now, this is similar to what Klopp said after the game. In fact, his desire to keep the ball explains why Roberto Firmino remained on the pitch despite struggling with the ball.
But outside of that, injuries really limited what Klopp could do.
Klopp lacks answers vs Brighton
Liverpool’s midfield in that second half was Jordan Henderson, Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. That’s a very, very attacking three.
It’s not a midfield that looks to control games or even see out a win. Henderson is certainly the more midfield-centric of the trio but even he isn’t an out-and-out defensive player.
Jones and Oxlade-Chamberlain both thrive on getting the ball and moving it forward. They want to progress the game, rather than limit the tempo.
The problem, then, was that Klopp didn’t have any other options in midfield. He couldn’t adjust things – there was no James Milner, no Fabinho, no Thiago, and Naby Keita went off injured.
As we say, this does explain why Firmino stayed on for so long. He was one of the only available players suited to maintaining possession and dropping deeper for the ball.
The problem was that Firmino had a poor game. Liverpool were dependant on him, however, as no one else could really offer what they needed.
There won’t be too many more games were there’s quite that level of need to keep the ball. Nor should injuries keep being as big a problem as that. But they certainly cost Liverpool at Anfield.
Klopp didn’t have the right players to turn to and in the end, that cost Liverpool two points.