Thirty minutes into the match I found myself in unfamiliar territory this season. I was comfortable. We had a 2-0 lead without really hitting that stride that Liverpool usually slip into late first half or early second half. Then something weird happened. Brighton actually took over. They really came to Anfield and had the audacity to try and boss the match. My guess is they saw that Martin Atkinson was in charge and realized they had a chance.
The match started out how most of Liverpool’s matches do. We pressed them, they pressed us, and we looked better. The match was fairly open which was obviously in favor of the league leaders. Bobby had a great chance around the 15 minute mark which required a top class save. Not long after that Trent and Virgil hooked up on a beauty of a set piece to put the Reds ahead. Just 3 minutes later Sadio lofted a beautiful pass diagonally across the box, finding Bobby on a fine run only to have Matt Ryan make another great save. Shortly after that, our lads won a corner, and once again Trent found Virgil’s forehead to double the lead. The last 10 minutes or so of the first half, Brighton really turned up the pace. They forced a save out of Alisson with a shot from the edge of the box, and then missed an open net chance. I was thankful when the whistle blew for the half.
The second half looked to be playing out exactly as we would want. Not much was happening. Both sides had some chances but it looked like Liverpool was content to knock it around and then defend until the whistle. With a little over 15 minutes, Alisson either forgot where he was or he just said, “F you! I’m keeping a clean sheet.” I’m sure Martin Atkinson was thrilled to send one of ours to the locker room early. On the ensuing free kick, he gave Adrian very little time to set up his wall and ignored a Brighton player standing in our wall which proved to be enough to gift them an early Christmas present. Now, playing a man down, Liverpool held on for dear life for the next 15 minutes. Long story longer, it worked, we won, and we’re still top of the league.
A few of the notable stats from the match include Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s 5 interceptions, 2 tackles, 4 shots, and 1 on target. Just from the eyeball test, I though Ox looked really dangerous on both sides of the ball. Virgil had a solid day with 5 clearances, 1 interception, 1 tackle, and 2 goals. Sadio and Bobby each had 2 shots with both going on target, and the Senegalese striker also had 3 key passes. The stat sheet tells an interesting story, but it can be deceptive. Even though Brighton had more possession, Liverpool was better where it counts most, scoring goals. In conclusion, screw the S*n, screw Martin Atkinson, respect to BHA, up the Reds, and YNWA! See you all for the derby!