Liverpool were eliminated from the FA Cup as Brighton inflicted another defeat on Jurgen Klopp’s out—of-form team – now with one win in six games.
Brighton 2-1 Liverpool
FA Cup Fourth Round, Amex Stadium
January 29, 2023
Goals: Elliott, 30′; Dunk 39′, Mitoma 90′
Saved reds lose, but still improve
Jurgen Klopp made just one substitution for the team that drew with Chelsea last weekend: Trent Alexander-Arnold replaced James Milner.
It was a real demonstration of faith in players like Joe Gomez, Stefan Baisetic and Naby Keita, who justified their choice despite the result.
For most of the game, Liverpool really looked like a functioning football team again, looking compact without the ball and more cohesive in the game.
After Fabinho and Jordan Henderson were ruled out again, the midfield was enthusiastic about chasing Brighton — that really only changed after substitutions were made (more on that later!).
Meanwhile, Ibrahima Konate performed well in the center of defense, coping well with the constant movement and alternating attacks of the “Seagulls”.
Liverpool have had very little stability this season due to injuries, but this team is starting to feel more confident.
It’s still a far cry from the Reds we’ve loved watching in recent years, but there have been signs of encouragement, regardless of the end result.
Promising exit from Gakpo
It’s fair to say that Cody Gakpo’s first few matches for Liverpool were boring, as the Dutchman looked like a rookie moving into a struggling team.
However, on Sunday he comfortably showed his most promising game for the Reds.
There were shades of Roberto Firmino in the Gakpo game as he dropped deep, picked up the ball and connected effectively with Mohamed Salah and Harvey Elliott.
This helped the latter open the scoring as he was falling behind after his teammate created space.
There were even some exciting turns of pace from Gakpo as he wriggled through tackles and picked the right pass, and his influence increased by the minute.
Although it was by no means his masterclass, it was a demonstration that showed what he could bring to the team by combining strength, touch and intelligence.
Submarines have unpleasant consequences
At the beginning of the second half, Liverpool were doing mostly well, they held on against Brighton, who are now purring.
Then Klopp decided to make changes, and not for the first time this season, the whole organization seemed to evaporate.
James Milner and Jordan Henderson brought little energy to the game, and also did not demonstrate enough quality – no substitution created a single chance – while Darwin Nunez’s use of the ball left much to be desired.
Then there was Fabinho’s last inept cameo, with the Brazilian’s first touch that caused Liverpool problems before Evan Ferguson’s terrible tackle earned him a red card.
Of all the players fighting for the Reds this season, the Brazilian’s decline is the most alarming – even as a substitute, he looks far from at pace these days.
Klopp’s use of substitutions has not been good enough throughout the season and that didn’t change on Sunday.
He brought in senior players to win or at least bring the game to an end, but instead all they did was conspire to make the team’s game worse. More fuel for the overhaul that is needed.
There is no need for overreaction
Yes, relegation from any competition is ultimately disappointing, but fans don’t need to overreact just because of the result.
As mentioned, the all-round game was good before being substituted, with the midfield the biggest positive, and the same players should be retained to move forward.
However, Nunez needs to return, returning to full form, while there may be arguments in favor of bringing in Joel Matip instead of Joe Gomez, who did not cover himself with the glory of the late winner Kaoru Mitoma.
Losing to Brighton is not a big shock these days, especially when self—confidence is low and injuries are a problem, and the most important thing is to focus on the positives.
This is followed by a trip to Wolverhampton next weekend – if Liverpool perform at the same level and Klopp improves his changes, there is every chance that we will celebrate three much-needed points.
A completely different season
It is well documented how ruthless the 2021/22 season was for Liverpool, as they played all 63 possible games and were close to winning the quadruple.
These gigantic efforts have clearly taken a toll on the Reds, both mentally and physically, and their campaign now looks as if we will immediately want to forget it in May.
Liverpool didn’t participate in both of the domestic cups they won last time, while in the Champions League it’s hard to see Klopp’s men knocking out Real Madrid.
If they are knocked out by the reigning European champions, the Reds will play 12 fewer matches than last season, highlighting how forgettable the campaign is.