Liverpool survived a late scare to grab their 13th Premier League win of the season as a Virgil van Dijk brace ensured they beat Brighton 2-1 on Saturday.
Liverpool were off the blocks quickly, with Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan making an early save to thwart Roberto Firmino. But, the deadlock was broken shortly after as Virgil van Dijk headed in from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s 18th minute free-kick. Six minutes later, van Dijk and Alexander-Arnold combined in a set-piece situation again to double Liverpool’s advantage.
The Reds were lucky when Lewis Dunk fluffed his line from point-blank range, but continued to remain in command. However, a frantic finale ensued, when Alisson Becker was sent off for an inexplicably handling the ball outside his area. Dunk scored from the resulting free-kick, passing the ball into the net even as deputy goalkeeper Adrian was setting his wall.
Liverpool, though, managed to hold on to their slender lead to grab all three points. With Manchester City dropping two points earlier in the day, the Premier League leaders now have an 11-point advantage at the summer. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Alisson Becker: 5/10
A game to forget for Alisson. Largely unperturbed for much of his time on the pitch, although he was in trouble when Lewis Dunk had the goal in his sight. Not as assured as he usually is either.
The lowest point, though, came with his dismissal as Alisson needlessly charged out of his box before handling the ball under pressure from Leandro Trossard. Will now miss the Merseyside derby.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 9/10
The game changer for Liverpool. Alexander-Arnold provided a dazzling display of his prowess on set-pieces, providing the assist for both the goals that Virgil van Dijk scored. Remained in his elements in the final third for the remainder of the game as well, creating two further chances. A solid presence at the back, Alexander-Arnold showed his improving defensive acumen as well.
Dejan Lovren: 6/10
Lovren has been a bright deputy for the injured Joel Matip. However, this was a sub-par outing for the Croat, who was kept on his toes by the nippy Aaron Connolly. Ought to have closed Trossard down before Alisson was sent off. Will look to brush this off as a rare blip.
Virgil van Dijk: 9/10
Virgil van Dijk’s game by numbers vs. Brighton:
100% aerials won
100% duels won
90% pass accuracy
3 fouls won
2 shots on target
Colossus. 💪 pic.twitter.com/cz5muSsart
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 30, 2019
A fantastic performance by Liverpool’s defensive leader, who made a match-winning contribution on the other end this time around. His finish for both the goals were right out the top drawer, with the run preceding the second goal being quite impeccable.
At the back, he was unbeatable for the most part, winning each of his duel, both in the air and on the ground, making 5 clearances and recovering the ball as many times. Quite simply, a colossus of a performance just days before the Ballon d’Or winner is announced.
Andrew Robertson: 7/10
Robertson was his typical industrious self against Brighton, showing intelligence while dealing with the threat at the back. Going forward, the Scot was a constant outlet, but he ought to have done better when he had an early chance coming his way. Switched flanks to link up with Alexander-Arnold in trademark fashion. Decent enough.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 7/10
The first benefactor from Fabinho’s injury-enforced absence, Oxlade-Chamberlain needed to make use of this opportunity, which is exactly what he did. Unleashed his typical driving runs from the middle of the park and was always a threat in and around the Brighton box.
Brings something different to the midfield lineup, with his bursts enabling an overload in the final third. Unfortunately sacrificed for Adrian when Alisson was sent off. Will hope for regular game time now, though.
Jordan Henderson: 6/10
With Fabinho unavailable, Henderson was the deepest of the three midfielders, a role that does not necessarily suit him best. For a player who excels so much with his runs off the ball, the no. 6 slot was somewhat restrictive and the Liverpool captain was often overrun rather easily. Georginio Wijnaldum might be a better option to sit at the base.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 6/10
Speaking of Wijnaldum, it was an oddly underwhelming performance by the Dutchman, in a weird twist of fate. His purposeful bursts were missing on the day, but Wijnaldum did typically put a shift off the ball, with block on Davy Propper standing out. Needs to do more, though.
Mohamed Salah: 6/10
Salah started the game in fine fashion, driving at the Brighton defenders with pace. But, a strong start quickly fizzled away, with the Egyptian winger still showing signs of lacking match fitness. So, it was hardly surprising that he was the first player to be taken off. Klopp needs his talisman to regain sharpness quickly.
Roberto Firmino: 5/10
Another unspectacular performance by Firmino. This time around, though, the Brazilian could not find ways to influence the proceedings. Did test Ryan early on, only to be denied by the Australian goalkeeper. Otherwise, Firmino was rather ineffective in his display. Will find a way to get to his best, though.
Sadio Mane: 7/10
The best of the Liverpool front three. Showed tremendous strength to hold off a challenge by Martin Montoya to drive on and find Firmino, before the ball eventually found its way to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Ought to have converted when Robertson found him with a superb pass in the second half. Even so, it was a sprightly performance by Mane.
Adam Lallana: 6/10
Worked hard off the ball, but lacked sharpness when he got it on his feet. Critical in the latter stages of the game, when Liverpool needed men behind the ball in disciplined fashion.
Divock Origi: N/A
With Liverpool down to 10, Origi could not find a way to get himself into the game, although he did work his socks off defensively.
Outfoxed by Dunk, who shot when he was still setting his wall. In all fairness to the Brighton captain, Adrian took incredibly long to get the wall in the right shape. Stayed sharp to deny Aaron Mooy, although he very nearly conceded when he spilled a regulation catch. Set to start against Everton.