Neil Atkinson’s post-match review after Liverpool 2 Brighton & Hove Albion 2 in the Premier League at Anfield, and it is two points dropped…
IT’S two dropped and there is nothing to be done about that fact.
Brighton were excellent. Like Christ on a bike excellent. Like everything anyone ever says positively about Graham Potter excellent. They were the best set up side in that second half we have faced all season and, let me be clear, Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel are good at setting football teams up.
But they weren’t outstanding at 2-0. At 2-0, as it could become 3-0, Liverpool were the first, the last, the everything and Brighton were a gamble that could never pay off.
At 2-0, as it became 3-0 for a split second, everything was Liverpudian and the big Brighton calls felt like an indulgence, not way home.
Here, in this moment, is a metaphor for management. These fellas, whoever they are, Klopp, Guardiola, Potter, they really are clever and great and doing their best, but events, dear boy, events. We act like football is chess but really it is backgammon, dice rattling across a board and everyone doing their best under those circumstances.
In football 2-1 is a terrible score. And it hurt Liverpool. They were only good today when it was about becoming 3-1, not the opposite.
But it is simultaneously the most common result in football, tells you nothing about the game, and is so fractious that it is almost unbearable. I would almost rather be 3-0 down than 2-1 up. I would maybe rather be 1-0 down. Of all the football scores, 2-1 up is one of the worst, particularly, especially, emphatically if being 2-1 up follows being 2-0 up. It’s horrible. It hurts, especially when Liverpool can’t manage it.
Liverpool let a two-goal lead go this afternoon. Two points lost and a whole massive lot to learn. They never got their heads back after letting one in. The second half made Liverpool look tired. Until the last five minutes, they never got their legs back after they came out after the break. The manager will have learnt a huge amount from that. Who fought when the chips turned down, and who accepted defeat.
Let’s be honest. Brighton were outstanding. Their response to going 2-0 down early doors was to not accept it. There was no reason to accept it. They have a good squad of experienced players.
Duffy and Dunk rise like Blackpool Towers at the back and, in a way, it is a surprise they didn’t get more out of set pieces. Mwepu and Bissouma know where our passing lanes are, and are not afraid to close them down for much of the second half. When he comes on, Lamptey is class and gives Andy Robbo much to shout about. Adam Lallana is Adam Lallana. Back home and his best self.
And yet. And yet.
The first half is so very different. Liverpool come out of the traps. Jordan Henderson scores and the ball quivers slightly before it slots solidly into the top left corner of the goal, far beyond the keeper’s reach. Four minutes is all it takes. Brighton look like Manchester United in disguise as we pass the ball around beyond through and around them.
Sadio’s goal 20 minutes later is equally compelling and his fight in this whole game is incredible. He is always there for the ball. Mo Salah is often trapped by two, three, sometimes four Brighton defenders, but Sadio is there and he is relentless.
Sadio Mane was relentless all game but he was broadly alone. Virgil van Dijk did being himself well. Henderson started well but found himself swamped and Liverpool without answers. Liverpool felt a centre mid sub light and really missed Naby Keita in general after his exit, though Chamberlain’s ball in for the goal was sweet as a nut, sweet like tropicana.
Brighton, on the other hand, had Adam Lallana.
The manager frayed around changes in a way which is quite unlike him. Liverpool’s shape was fluid. Fluid isn’t always a good thing.
The separate part to all this is the table. This is why it is two dropped. A win today would make a serious difference to that.
We need to swallow it and we need to learn. We don’t come up against Potter and his lads every week either. But my god, take a good look at them and at him.
It’s two dropped. There isn’t that much more room for manoeuvre. Be a teeny bit better, Reds.
Ten down, 28 to go. Let’s leave nothing to chance.
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“I understand why the second-half went like that, because we were goosed. But we need midfielders back and quickly.”
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) October 30, 2021