Brighton 1-3 Liverpool
- Goals: Leandro Trossard (£5.8m) | Mohamed Salah x2 (£12.5m), Jordan Henderson (£5.3m)
- Assists: Tariq Lamptey (£4.0m) | Naby Keïta (£5.8m), Salah, Andrew Robertson (£7.0m)
- Bonus Points: Salah x3, Henderson x2, Robertson x1
Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) was the star of the show as Liverpool ran out 3-1 winners at Brighton on Wednesday evening.
In a performance much more like what we have come to expect from the Reds, the Egyptian scored twice, added a ninth assist of the campaign and took all three bonus points for an 18-point haul.
It means that, since the beginning of Project Restart, Salah has delivered in all but one of his outings, the Gameweek 32+ trip to Manchester City, and even then he struck the post in the first half.
Across his four post-lockdown appearances, Salah now has two double-digit hauls and averages 9.3 points per game.
Such impressive statistics, combined with a scintillating “classic” Salah performance at Brighton, in which he was a penalty-box-shot-machine and creator in equal measure, is sure to ask Fantasy managers some difficult questions between now and the end of the season.
Even though it’s Burnley up next, is he an essential player to own and should he be in the captaincy conversation more often? There will be many who answer yes to both of those, especially with Sadio Mané (£12.4m) reduced to a 29-minute, yellow-carded cameo in Gameweek 34+, and the Golden Boot still on the line.
“(Salah) is a striker, how can [scoring] not be a motivation for him? That’s clear. In the last two years he won the Golden Boot – last year he shared it with Sadio and Aubameyang. It’s always important, it’s important for Sadio. In the end, you only can score goals when you perform well and he did that tonight, so that was really good.” – Jurgen Klopp
It must be said that there was an element of fortune about Liverpool’s opening goals at Brighton, without wanting to take too much credit away from the Reds.
Salah netted his opener after Davy Pröpper (£4.8m) dawdled in possession in his defensive third, allowing Naby Keïta (£5.8m) to nip in and set up the Egyptian for the goal.
Then, in the eighth minute, Jordan Henderson (£5.3m) pressed Adam Webster (£4.4m) on his way out of defence, Keïta intercepted the pass to Pröpper. The loose ball fell to Roberto Firmino‘s (£9.4m) feet, whose pass to Salah was cutback to Henderson to rifle home a screamer.
Both of these efforts were a result of Brighton trying to play intricate passes out from the back against a Liverpool side famed for Jurgen Klopp’s ‘gegenpressen’. The chances of Burnley trying this at Anfield do seem slim, although Arsenal (away) and Chelsea (home) might be more susceptible to Liverpool’s ruthless ability to win the ball in dangerous areas in Gameweeks 36+ and 37+ respectively.
But even after Brighton tried to take fewer risks at the back, Salah was still able to pose a considerable threat in his busiest display since the Premier League returned.
In the 53rd minute, he managed to get around the back of Dan Burn (£4.5m) and into a one-on-one with Mat Ryan (£4.7m). His cute finish nearly crept over the line before the Brighton goalkeeper managed to scramble it away.
Shortly afterwards, the Egyptian was tearing into space behind the defence again, this time teeing up Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£6.1m) for a blocked shot.
Salah got his second of the game with a clever glanced header at the near post from an Andrew Robertson (£7.0m) corner in the 75th minute, going close to a hat-trick during stoppage time. His quick feet enabled him to get to Ryan’s spillage first, his flicked effort clawed over the bar.
The contribution of Robertson was particularly noteworthy, considering that he only played 45 minutes of the 3-1 win. It was him, not Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.8m), who made way for Neco Williams‘ (£4.0m) first-ever Premier League start, but a yellow card for the youngster saw Klopp bring on the more experienced full-back at the interval.
After a spell of Brighton pressure in the second half, Robertson was a great outlet for Liverpool, arguably more so than Alexander-Arnold who had a relatively quiet game by his standards.
Generally speaking, Liverpool’s defence does continue to operate at a level much lower than Fantasy managers witnessed earlier in the campaign. They are likely to be without Henderson operating in front of them for Gameweek 35+ too.
“I don’t know [how serious Henderson’s injury is], I don’t know, honestly. I didn’t see the situation back on the pitch, but I know that it will not be nothing, probably. That’s how it is, but we have to wait. I cannot say more.” – Jurgen Klopp
At the expense of stability in their own box, Brighton did cause Liverpool real problems on Wednesday night, their front-three combining in much the same way as we have come to expect from Klopp’s forwards.
Leandro Trossard (£5.8m) was by far the chief threat for Brighton again, adding his second goal in as many games and going close to more than that throughout the evening.
Neal Maupay (£5.7m) found Pascal Groß (£6.2m) in space inside the box during the 18th minute. The German pulled the ball back for Trossard to see his lashed effort blocked by Williams.
The Belgian then used his scintillating pace to spark a dangerous counter-attack in the 27th minute, getting past Joe Gomez (£5.3m), who committed too early. He then crossed back to the centre of the box from the dead-ball line, where Maupay latched onto the ball and forced a smart reaction save from Alisson (£6.2m).
Trossard had another go himself in the 35th minute. This time he was slid in by Maupay, drifting into a central position under pressure from Alexander-Arnold, unleashing another blocked effort.
It was on the stroke of half-time that Trossard finally found the breakthrough, firing home a Tariq Lamptey (£4.0m) cross with aplomb.
As an aside, this was a fourth successive start at right-back for the former Chelsea man, an impressive achievement under such a tinker-man as Potter.
Trossard’s last chance came in the 84th minute, Pröpper’s chipped through ball finding him in space behind the Liverpool defence, although he could only hook it over the bar, perhaps unaware of quite how much time he had available to him.
“Brighton were really good. They played really good football, took some risks in the formation. Some of them were really threatening counter-attacks so we had to block twice in the box. In the end, we conceded a goal. I said to my boys at half-time, ‘It is a good game [for] both sides, but they deserved their goal’ and in the end, we had to adjust a few things and make a few things better.” – Jurgen Klopp
However, it is perhaps difficult for Fantasy managers to get too excited about the Trossard and his attacking colleagues, apart from those chasing extreme differentials.
That’s because Graham Potter is famed for rotating even his best players, tailoring Brighton’s line-ups to their opponents more than anything else.
Also, they host Manchester City in Gameweek 35+ which may prove to be a tough test.
Perhaps then, the period to target Seagulls is from Gameweek 36+ onwards when they face Southampton (away), Newcastle (home) and Burnley (away) between then and the end of the season.
Brighton and Hove Albion XI (4-2-3-1): Ryan; Burn, Dunk, Webster, Lamptey; D Stephens, Pröpper (Bissouma 71′); Trossard, Mac Allister (Mooy 71′), Groß (Connolly 71′); Maupay.
Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Alisson; N Williams (Robertson 46′), van Dijk, Gomez, Alexander-Arnold; Wijnaldum, J Henderson (Milner 80′), Keïta (Fabinho 61′); Oxlade-Chamberlain (Mané 61′), Firmino (Minamino 87′), Salah.
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