Liverpool‘s away match against Brighton Hove & Albion at The AMEXTM had all the trappings of…a trap game.
While not quite the fortress that Anfield is, The AMEX is a major reason BHA find themselves eight points clear of relegation. Coming into Saturday’s game, they had only lost twice at home this Premier League season (to Tottenham and Chelsea) and had not been held scoreless at The AMEX since March.
Make that three times this season with a scoreless 0-1 loss to Liverpool.
It was a challenge, as BHA parked the bus and made Liverpool earn it. While Liverpool dominated with 71% possession (including 78% at half), and outshot BHA 10 (3 on target) to 7 (zero on target), there was never a point where the Reds felt totally safe.
Jurgen Klopp (7) – Klopp went back to the 4-2-3-1 which wasn’t overly effective against the parked bus in the first half. However, he made the right call with Fabinho at center-back, and was right to yank an ineffective Xherdan Shaqiri early in the second. He had his squad ready to rebound and marching towards their first Premier League title.
Alisson (7) – Didn’t have much to do. A couple of good passes from his feet and heaves down field in attempted counters.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (7) – A much better showing than against City. Shrugging off a warm-up injury, he got up field well, delivered well, and defended well. Can’t ask much more from him.
Fabinho (7) – A noble job filling in for Lovren/Matip/Gomez. He made 94 passes and two blocks, including a crucial one at the 57th minute on a Pascal Gross strike. Given Liverpool’s injuries on the backline, this is a reassuring performance and validates Klopp’s comments on why there’s no need to buy a defender.
Virgil van Dijk (7) – Another solid performance for the December Premier League Man of the Month. Delivered so good bombs and kept BAH’s attack in check.
Andrew Robertson (8.5) – Again, nobody is better bringing the ball down than Robbo. He effectively handled a ball in the 8th minute and delivered a perfect cross that should’ve led to a Roberto Firmino goal. He basically served as a left-wing this game, constantly pressing forward. Active as always.
Georginio Wijnaldum (6.5) – Another “not eye-catching but effective” performance. We should just start calling those “Ginis.” His gengenpressing in the 20th minute had to make Klopp smile, and helped support his center-backs when needed.
Jordan Henderson (6) – Great discipline. Basically a slightly lesser “Gini” performance. His steadiness always appreciated with the lead.
Xherdan Shaqiri (5) – Klopp might need to start thinking of Shaqiri as a super-sub only. Is simply not as effective starting as coming in late and capitalizing on tired defenses.
Roberto Firmino (6.5) – Should’ve converted Robertson’s cross early, but Bobby creative and solid in attack. Has a flair with the ball at his feet that nobody else on the squad has.
Sadio Mane (6) – Problems with a heavy touch still persist. He was a bit more of a threat early on. Still, not a bad result for his 100th Liverpool start.
Mohamed Salah (7) – Salah gonna score. But first, he showed a great work rate recovering to stifle a counter in the 18th minute.
His converted penalty was definitely earned and showed that confident master of footwork and technique that defined his record-setting ’17-18 campaign.
He should’ve converted another chance at the end, but he delivered when needed most.
James Milner (6.5) – Came on in the 71st for an ineffective Shaqiri and helped ensure a clean-sheet.
Naby Keita (NR) – Came on late and almost cost the win giving the ball away. Keita’s confidence just isn’t there right now.
Divock Origi (NR) – A time killing sub we want to give a 10 because he’s Origi and he very effectively killed that time.