Liverpool’s defeat by Brighton – what has changed after two weeks?

It was another miserable day for Liverpool on the south coast.

Rather than avenge their humiliating 3-0 defeat at the Amex Stadium earlier this month, the FA Cup holders were eliminated by an injury-time winner from Kaoru Mitoma.

Two trips to the Amex Stadium in just 15 days, two setbacks in this turbulent transfer season for Jurgen Klopp’s side. A familiar sinking feeling.

So what exactly has changed? On the face of it, not much.

This team still sorely lacks the quality and experience of the injured quartet of Virgil van Dijk, Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz.

That squad is still crying out for midfield reinforcements, with Klopp stressing he does not expect the club to make any more signings before Tuesday’s transfer deadline.

This team is still sorely lacking in faith, with key personnel out of shape. Even Klopp admits his players’ body language worries him.

Certainly, Liverpool’s tendency to shoot themselves in the foot has not been addressed, especially when it comes to defending set-pieces.


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Yes, it was a great finish from Mitoma, but how was Pervis Estupinan left in so much space to receive a free kick from Pascal Gross? When he crossed to the far post, why was it two against one? Why then did Joe Gomez inexplicably turn his back? There was a lack of basic communication and organization. It was all avoidable.

However, there have been some significant changes since they hit rock bottom at Brighton in mid-January.

Klopp was ruthless in removing captain Jordan Henderson and Fabinho to the bench. He sent a clear message that no one would be selected on the basis of reputation alone. Putting his trust in teenager Stefan Bagcetic and Naby Keita has helped make Liverpool more compact and provided a much-needed boost of energy.

Bajcetic continues to shine like a beacon during these difficult times, and the Spanish midfielder has shown real maturity in how he handles himself after being booked early. Another fighter was Ibrahima Konate who did not deserve to be on the losing team.

And the manager’s tactical adjustment to ensure his wide forwards were more selective when pressed made Liverpool more difficult to play. There was an audacious cup-returning victory over Wolves before a draw with Chelsea at Anfield.

It should not be lost amid the repercussions of this competition that Liverpool have been more competitive. Unlike two weeks ago, no one could point a finger at a lack of fitness or desire. Liverpool was never bullied again. In fact, they were sometimes very aggressive.

There was also a bit more solidity and creativity, but in the end, it didn’t count for anything as they failed at both ends at pivotal moments.

“We were nowhere near good enough a couple of weeks ago, and I think today we’re a little bit better,” said Andy Robertson.

“We need to start winning games – easy to say but hard to fix. You can say we’re not confident in front of goal; defensively you can say we’re still open in certain areas and we have to close that. I feel sorry for the fans. They were unbelievable and we let them down.” once again “.

There are some glaring issues that Klopp seems nowhere close to resolving. Not the least of which was how to make the most of his offensive resources until the cavalry returned.

Mohamed Salah’s barren race continues. Al-Masry wasted a fantastic opportunity in the first half after being put into the net and his impact on the game waned as it went on.

Arguably Cody Gakbo put in his best showing since his move from PSV but there is still a five-game end product in his Liverpool career.

Klopp adores the way the Dutchman plummets into space, as does Firmino, disrupting the opposition’s team play. There were some rising runs from Gakpo, but his playing depth meant he didn’t spend long enough time in areas where he could really hurt Brighton.

Having become accustomed to playing on the left in the Eredivisie, Gakpo is still adapting what Klopp wants from him through the middle – underlined by his frequently barking range of commands from the technical area.

Darwin Nunez is another work in progress. The Uruguayan would have had to settle for a senior role at Brighton when Liverpool could have really worked him more centrally with his ability to run at the back. Klopp still hasn’t unleashed Nunez’s true potential.

Harvey Elliott, who scored for the second time in three matches, stepped up and delivered one of the few positives of late, but goals elsewhere dried up.

It was the first time Liverpool had lost after scoring for the first time in a match since losing to Leicester City in February 2021.

It’s a compelling statistic that the only goal Klopp’s men have scored after the hour mark in any of their nine matches in all competitions since the World Cup was Bagšić’s late equalizer at Villa Park on Boxing Day.

That points to another problem: the impact of Klopp’s substitutions. Certainly, the changes he made in the second half on Sunday made Liverpool progressively worse rather than better.

They moved from a midfield three of Thiago, Bagsetik and Keita to a mix of Henderson, Curtis Jones and Fabinho. He lost balance and suddenly, there were more gaps for Brighton to exploit.

Having initially hoped Fabinho would return to form, Klopp recently took the drastic step of dropping him for a youngster – and there is no sign of the end of the slump. Within two minutes of coming on, the Brazilian lost the ball cheaply and was lucky not to see red in a tough encounter against Ivan Ferguson. Fabinho buried his head in his hands as if he could hardly believe what he had done.

Infinite Wembley final for Liverpool this season. Now it’s all about the Champions League last 16 clash with Real Madrid and trying to push themselves to the top of the Premier League table towards the top four.

“We have to improve,” Klopp said, “the body language with two boys has to be much better, and defending in formation has to be better than a few.” “The last game here we couldn’t win, no chance. Today was much better. I think no one will be surprised if we win this game. There are real moves.”

Signs of life from the wreckage of two weeks earlier at Brighton, but there is still a lot that needs to change if Liverpool are to salvage anything from this season.

(Photo: John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)


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