Another Day, Another Draw
Southgate is right.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is a shambles right now and has no place in the England squad. Whether it’s confidence, or simply exhaustion, his body language tells it all; the only time he became animated was when Sanchez managed to barely deflect Trent’s gorgeous free kick almost at the death. Every single one of Trossard’s hat-full of goals came off that side. De Zerbi clearly instructed his team to overload the right, and they did so beautifully.
To be honest, Brighton may feel hard done by the draw.
It looks like Trent needs a rest. But the truth is, it wasn’t just Trent. Take Virgil Van Dijk; he isn’t terrible, and plays reasonably as a premier league center-back. But this is Van Dijk, not, say, Lewis Dunk, who played just as a reasonably. Trossard’s third came because Virgil failed to touch a ball that passed right between his legs. I don’t know about you, but I seem to recall this guy magically connecting with much more tricky balls in flight – with his backheel, around an attacker, and somehow making it a pass. Something is off with him, too, and to me, as bad as Trent was defending, the show at the back pretty much turns on our big number four and his towering presence.
The way the team didn’t show up in the first half made it extra bad. I don’t normally walk away angry from the screen when we’re down, but the lack of passion in the first half was downright insulting.
Moving on to the midfield, Fabinho was worse than absent in the first half, even as he became much more his usual self in the second. Liverpool’s high press depends heavily on Fabinho’s presence in the midfield, and when his counterpart Henderson is also in la-la-land, it gets hairy real quick. Two down in twenty sounds bad, but it could so easily have been four, and every one would have started the same way; Fab and Hendo ambling about or giving it over to their spirited opponents.
You could see it with the possession stat; even with Brighton playing their socks off right now (their league position does not lie), Liverpool should rightly be in the sixties against them in terms of possession. And were it so, than the Reds would have easily won.
The only part of the Reds squad that functioned well was the front. Bobby’s goals were no mistake, and he was as tricky as ever to deal with. Salah applied the pressure, and even if his dribbling isn’t quite up to his usual standard, his awareness is undiminished and he draws tons of attention, opening up gaps for others. Carvalho was extremely positive and it was a shame he had to go when Diaz came on. Diaz himself was excellent. Jota and Nunez didn’t really have time to make an impact, but one has to wonder about the latter. Is that all he’s worth? Five minutes at the end of the game?
Oh, and of course Alisson is the easy choice for man-of-the-match. Really, I feel for Albion a bit. What a performance from our stickman. It’s important to have well-set goals, and I find it ironic that coming off a season when Liverpool got closer than any other team in history to winning all four major trophies, it is best to focus on making it to top four by the end of this season. This kind of form certainly won’t see the team making it to any finals.
For lessons on how to do it right, please refer to City, Manchester, and Haaland, Erling.