After Liverpool’s second loss to Brighton in as many weeks, even with a new-look team, how much has this squad fallen between two stools?


WELL, there it is. God knows, frankly.

There’s good Liverpool and there’s bad Liverpool, but there’s nothing more frustrating than confusing Liverpool.

The whole young midfield versus old midfield thing, creative full backs who can’t create anymore and a forward line you’ll never see again if everyone else is available. Some good, some bad but all a bit confusing. You can’t win. What you win in chips, you lose in beans.

It looks like Jürgen Klopp is just trying to find order in the chaos these days — a bit like the rest of us. Another, any, formula designed to just stop the rot for a bit and give us something to hold onto. Just a cornerstone to work around.

Maybe, he needs one glorious find. The moment where Gerard Houllier finally realised that Steven Gerrard might not be a right back after all. Maybe it’s Cody Gakpo on the left and Darwin Nunez down the middle, I don’t know. Trouble is, you don’t get many of those moments of inspiration. Mostly you just get more questions.

Take yesterday. The starting midfield has legs. I get it. It can get around but it’s porous when Brighton play between the lines. And they like to play between the lines a lot. So, you swap them for the tried and tested in the second half and we up the aggression and look a bit more solid, but subsequently lose the legs we wanted in the first place. You sort of need both but somehow get neither.

Liverpool players look dejected as Brighton & Hove Albion score the first equalising goal during the FA Cup 4th Round match between Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Liverpool FC at the Falmer Stadium

And though the midfield always gets the criticism, it’s not just where the issues lie.

We have got a new forward holding the line but he’s better driving from deeper really, and our maniac on the left can only play crosses from there and should be in the middle, but someone has to play left and the lads who usually do that are all out injured.

So, what do we do? We rely on your genius on the right but everyone expects that from us now so they close him to within an inch. Mo Salah needs space and no one is creating any for him and he can’t do the same for anyone else.

Then our best number six comes on and looks like he’s bet the entire backroom staff that he can get sent off in 45 seconds.

Now plan for Wolves. Exactly.

It’s like trying to get a nice curry ready when you’re not sure if you have enough ingredients or if any of them work. What’s more you’re preparing it for the most argumentative, irritable and demanding diners in the land. You’re fine for a lot of things other than curry powder which you sort of need and the shops close soon, but that doesn’t matter as you’re skint anyway. You’ve still got to fill a plate regardless. For the next five months.

(Note to self: I quite fancy a curry…)

Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Liverpool 1: Match Review

And this chaos helps no one. I left the Amex with the feeling that we’d been beaten by a fluke and a worldie. We played a lot better than our previous visit, but the old problems still linger.

It was a hell of a goal, though. Sure, you can look at Joe Gomez for the winner but no one’s talking about the Italian defence when they see Carlos Alberto’s legendary goal in the 1970 World Cup final. Sometimes it’s just a great goal and sometimes you lose to them. We did alright and if we’d created that goal, we’d be talking about an upturn rather than Fabinho’s assault.

(I’ve mentioned him again. Sorry. I’ve been reluctant to single players out as they’ve won us the world, but it seems like he’s the personification of the whole team. His season’s been like a one-act play about nosediving. The very dictionary definition of entropy.)

So, it’s hard to see just what we have right now. Tired? Possibly. Underinvested? Definitely. Feeling a bit too sorry for itself? Massively.

It’s churlish to say this given that we’ve recently won a game thanks to two own goals, but fate hasn’t been kind of late. You just get luck, good or otherwise, so you can’t plan on it, but aggression is a different matter. A game without it is just like a weak curry.

(Might make one when I’m home…)

A bit more aggression, a shot taken in anger, a bit of ‘I’m sick of this’. Instead, we had Trent Alexander-Arnold shaking his head as he went off. There was only Ibrahima Konate who was really throwing himself in front of his man when a loose ball came in. He was my man of the match.

Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the FA Cup 4th Round match between Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Liverpool FC at the Falmer Stadium

So, what’s next? A reset? Andy Robertson said last night that we planned to draw a line and start afresh for 2023 but we’ve been worse. His words not mine. Out of the domestic cups, Real Madrid to come and a battle to get back at the big table.

We can talk about Jürgen’s occasional bad season and listen to every wild take about the club — and there have been some absolutely incredible ones this week — but this is still sliding. Maybe it will need a mad decision like Naby Keita at left back and Adrian playing upfront in a two with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at Molineux. We’ve tried everything else.

God, I miss Diogo.

The performances fade but the ardour never dampens, and if we must pay for the next wave of success with this nonsense then I’m buying. Curry ingredients, mostly.

We go on because this is what we signed up for. The rainbow and the rain and all that.

Sing louder.

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