Match Review – Brighton 1-5 Liverpool

Well, it was always going to happen at some point. Eventually, one of the top six was going to hand out a hammering to Brighton this season, such is the gulf in class between those pushing for European football and the rest of us. Having negotiated Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United without being on the end of a hiding, Liverpool came to the Amex and completely outclassed the Albion to win 5-1.

There have been plenty of tactical geniuses slating Chris Hughton and the players, as if they should be beating multi million pound internationals and one of the best managers in the world. To beat a Champions League side, you need them to have an off day, us to play at 100% and a bit of luck. We didn’t get any of those things.

Some people blamed our ball retention for the defeat. True, we gave it away with alarming regularity but it’s quite difficult to pick out a blue shirt when before you’ve even had a first touch, three red shirts are swarming around you. That was the cause of the first goal, possession surrendered, corner conceded, free header converted.

From the restart the same thing happened again, the ball was lost and 79 seconds later it was in the back of the net. The fact that the Albion players like time on the ball and don’t deal well when pressed isn’t exactly a revelation – the only time we were outclassed in the Championship last season was when Huddersfield did the same thing at the Galpharm.

Some people reckon Hughton being so defensive was a mistake and that we should’ve gone after Liverpool’s makeshift defence. Well, we tried that at the start of the second half when Glenn Murray was brilliantly denied by Simon Mignolet from point blank range. Five passes later and Liverpool had countered to stick the ball in at the other end through Roberto Firmino.

Some people reckon that Tomer Hemed should’ve played instead of Murray. True, Murray missed a couple of gilt edged opportunities but would Hemed really have put them away? The striker-we-should-have-signed-in-the-summer might have done and against such a makeshift defence, the chances we missed going in might have made it a different game.

The goal we did get did come from Murray but it was a fortutiotis penalty that, had it been given against us, the Amex would’ve been livid with. There was little defence of the fourth and fifth goals we conceded, the fourth being a free kick in which the wall all jumped in the air Sunday League style, allowing Phillipe Coutinho to roll the ball underneath and into the bottom corner.

The fifth was another Lewis Dunk own goal, his third of the season leaving him just one short of equaling Martin Skrtel’s record of four in one Premier League campaign. It was also the third time Dunk has scored for Liverpool in three games. Bearing in mind Dominic Solanke made his England debut last month without having scored for Liverpool, Dunk’s call up can’t be far away seeing as he has three more goals for the Reds than the striker.

Certain individuals looked jaded, none more so than Dale Stephens who has been off the boil for the last few weeks. It’s obviously not just the away end where thorough searches aren’t being carried out – Liverpool supporters got a flare in just as Palace did four days previously – but the sponsors lounge. What else could explain Stephens being awarded man of the match other than a significant amount of crack being smuggled in and smoked by those making that decision?

With a packed schedule through until Christmas, Hughton needs to start looking at squad rotation a little more urgently. It’s not only an intense schedule, but a difficult one – Burnley and Watford at home who are both flying, Spurs and Chelsea and away who really don’t need any introduction other than to say they both finished above Liverpool last season.

Before that, we get to Huddersfield on Saturday. Let’s hope Hughton and the players have worked out a way to deal with teams who press by then, otherwise it could be a long, hard run into the depths of winter.

For all the excellence Liverpool showed – and some of the stuff from Coutinho and Firmino was breathtaking – we need to be better. Otherwise it could be another wrist slitting evening on social media.

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