The Premier League's ninety-two remaining games, spread across nine rounds of games are set to play out beginning June 17th 2020, with Project Restart's health and safety conditions meaning the remaining games of the season will be played out behind closed doors. We will be providing match reports from these behind closed doors competitive encounters as the league campaign nears its end-game. All aboard.
Match Report (GW34): Brighton 1-3 Liverpool
Without wasting anytime, the game exploded into life in the 5th minute when Brighton gave over ran the ball out defence, with Liverpool's high-press winning the ball back through Naby Keita. The midfielder cut back for a couple of attacking options, with Roberto Firmino selflessly leaving the ball for Mohamed Salah to tuck home an easy finish for his 18th goal of the season.
Just two minutes the exact same thing happened. Brighton over ran the ball into midfield. Keita won the ball back, fed the ball to Mohamed Salah, only this time the Egyptian stopped the ball dead for skipper, Jordan Henderson, to curl a beautiful second past the helpless Mat Ryan. What a start to the game for the new Champions.
A couple of quick-fire goals could have seen a third in the 14th minute when Trent Alexander-Arnold fed Salah down the right-wing, with the winger taking the ball easily past Dan Burn and Lewis Dunk into a dangerous position, though his right-footed effort didn't generate enough power to really test Ryan.
Brighton engineered their first real chance of the game in the 17th minute when the ball broke to Pascal Gross on the left-flank, with the German flashing a low-cross into the penalty area. Gini Wijnaldum couldn't clear the ball, with Neco Williams flying in at the last second with a brilliant recovery tackle to deny Neal Maupay.
Just before the first-half water-break, down the left again Brighton were able to get in a cross, with Naby Ketia shying away from clearing Leandro Trossard's cross. Maupay was at hand to stab a foot at the cross, though the sturdy Alisson was in the way as the Brazilian saved well from close range with his legs. Brighton had come back into the game well and it looked like they got oveR the shock of conceding a couple of early goals.
The home side continued to get into the game and were finally rewarded when the lively Tariq Lamptey found space past Neco Williams after a one-touch passing sequence from Brighton to hit a sharp cross into the box, with Leandro Trossard at hand to rifle home past Alisson on the half-volley to sweetly half the deficit just before half-time.
Liverpool had the opportunity to restore a two-goal lead when Salah was through one-on-one, with Salah failing to scoop a chipped effort over Ryan in the opposite goal. This gave Brighton the chance to have that one moment that would have drew them level and it arrived at the 61 minute mark when a back-cross was nodded towards the back-post as Liverpool stepped up as a line. Dan Burn was alone at the back-post with the whole goal to aim at, thouh given this leverage he miss-micked the ball and with the ball bobbling towards Alisson's left, Wijnaldum was able to clear his lines.
The game veered back in Liverpool's favour in the 76th minute, definitely against the run of play, as Andrew Robertson's left-footed corner kick was headed in clinically by Salah for his second goal of the evening.
Late on we were treated to some customary shaky moments from the Reds, with Aaron Connolly testing Alisson, before Virgil van Dijk made an excellent interception on Connolly, who was then flagged out. The game ultimately stretched out with big gaps for teams to exploit - Sadio Mane flashing wide-left of Ryan's goal was a great chance to add a 4th goal, before Salah forced a good save out of Ryan from close range after the Australian fumbled a cross, and then with the final kick of the ball Salah headed over from six-yards with what should have been his hat-trick - though this couldn't usher anymore goals as Liverpool ran out worthy winners on the south coast.
Man of the Match: Mohamed Salah (LIV)
It was just one of them games for The Egyptian King. Liverpool were eager from the get-go and scored twice within the first 10 minutes of the game, with Salah both scoring and assisting. Full of running and energy, Salah set the tempo for a fast-paced game, and a much better much than the stale 2-0 win over Aston Villa. This brace puts Salah up to 19 goals and back in contention for the Golden Boot conversation, though a couple of near-criminal misses in added time might be the moments that deny Salah a third consecutive award.
BHA 1-3 LIV - Insight and Analysis:
This impressive win for Jurgen Klopp's side felt, and I stress 'felt' like a typical win, which was kind of warming given that that we are in the midst of a pandemic and due to the vast changed, the Premier League hasn't felt the same.
Brighton matched Liverpool man for man and the tactic, though it didn't work in the opening minutes, largely was effective at creating Brighton a host of chances to score. Graham Potter's side should have gone to 2-2, with Dan Burn experiencing jelly legs in the critical moment. Brighton can't complain though, they gave the ball away in the final third far too often to hand Liverpool the win - great teams punish every mistake and that's what Liverpool did. The game was wide-open from the first minute to the last, especially in the full-back areas, with both sides leaving tonnes of space as the likes of Lamptey and Williams played exclusively in the final third.
Speaking of Lamptey and Williams, both are very good full-backs and here's hoping that next season we see both get extended runs in teams. If I'm Neco Williams I am asking Klopp for a bigger role next season, whilst if I'm Lamptey I'm happy at the decision to leave Chelsea - in hindsight, why did Frank Lampard sanction the move unless the player had to get out (we've all been in crappy jobs in the past)? Lamptey has a great turn of pace and can keep up with Mane and Salah, and much like Aaron Wan Bissaka is a good man-marker. He's a player who could have thrived under Lampard, so it's a strange one for sure.
I'm mainly pleased that the game wasn't a drag and a worthy distraction, especially as a Newcastle fan who just had his soul beaten out of me during Man City's 5-0 rout of my beloved Magpies - this game was the perfect chicken soup to sooth the soul.
Venue: Amex Stadium
Manager: Graham Potter
GK: M. Ryan
DEF: T. Lamptey
DEF: A. Webster
DEF: L. Dunk
DEF: D. Burn
MID: D. Pröpper (Bissouma 71')
MID: D. Stephens
MID: P. Groß (Connolly 71')
MID: A. Mac Allister (Mooy 71')
MID: L. Trossard
FOR: N. Maupay
Duffy, Bissouma, Jahanbakhsh, Murray, Mooy, Montoya, Button, Bernardo, Connolly
Manager: Jurgen Klopp
DEF: T. Alexander-Arnold
DEF: J. Gomez
DEF: V. van Dijk
DEF: N. Williams (Robertson 45')
MID: N. Keita (Fabinho 61')
MID: J. Henderson (Milner 80')
MID: G. Wijnaldum
FOR: M. Salah
FOR: R. Firmino (Minamino 87')
FOR: A. Oxlade-Chamberlain (Mané 61')
Fabinho, Milner, Mané, Adrián, Minamino, Robertson, Origi, Jones, Elliott
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