Six things we learned from Brighton & Hove Albion v Liverpool

Mohamed Salah's 50th-minute penalty gave Liverpool all three points at Brighton yesterday and extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to seven points. Here's six things we learned from the game.

Saturday, 12th January 2019, 8:37 pm
Updated Saturday, 12th January 2019, 9:53 pm
Glenn Murray takes on Fabinho. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Top-six progress

Albion are showing signs of progress when they play the top six sides - and their results against Liverpool in the last two years shows just that.

Brighton were beaten 5-1 at the Amex last season, before going down 4-0 at Anfield on the final day of the 2017/18 campaign.

On both occasions, Liverpool were free-flowing and could have scored more goals.

This year, Albion only narrowly lost 1-0 away to Liverpool and could have snatched a late point when Reds keeper Alisson saved Pascal Gross's late header.

Yesterday, it was just a penalty which separated the sides. On another day, Brighton may well have ground out a 0-0 draw and a couple of Seagulls players afterwards said they felt they deserved a draw.

Albion also only lost 2-1 at home to Chelsea this year, after a 4-0 Amex defeat last season and they have yet to lose at home in two Premier League seasons to both Manchester United and Arsenal.

Not a friendly face

Referee Kevin Friend took charge of his fourth Brighton game of the season and the omens were good for the Seagulls.

The Leicester-based official had been the man in the middle for Albion's wins against Manchester United, West Ham and Crystal Palace but he was not a popular figure at the Amex yesterday.

Friend's decisions drew much criticism from Brighton supporters, who felt the official favoured the visitors. There were ironic cheers from home fans towards the end of the game when Friend awarded Albion a free kick.

Brighton manager Chris Hughton felt a number of decisions went against his side, although added he did not have any complaints for the penalty decision which led to Liverpool's winner.

The sign of champions

Liverpool ground out all three points at the Amex to move seven points clear of Manchester City at the top of Premier League.

The Reds have not won the top-flight title in England since 1990 but their performance at Brighton suggests that wait could end this year.

After back-to-back defeats to Manchester City and Wolves, some questions were starting to be asked about Liverpool.

They may not have answered them with an emphatic win but they way they battled and fought to the win perhaps showed a different side.

At their best, Liverpool are a joy to watch with the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firminio and Xherdan Shaqiri in sparkling form.

It's at the back where the Reds have also really impressed as well this season. Alisson has been outstanding in goal and Virgil van Dijk is commanding at the back and arguably the best centre-back in the league.

Liverpool have conceded only ten goals in 22 league games and Brighton boss Chris Hughton feels they are favourites to win the title this year.

Defensive resilience

Centre-backs Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy were again commanding at the back as Brighton showed their defensive resilience against Liverpool.

The duo headed clear crosses and balls forward, while also having to deal with the trickery and pace of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

Their performances this season are why Albion are doing so well but Martin Montoya and Gaetan Bong in the full-back positions also impressed.

Albion's outfield players limited the amount of work keeper David Button had to do as the Reds had just three shots on target.

Brighton have conceded just 30 goals in their 22 matches this season and Everton, with three, are the only side to score more than twice against Albion in a game this season.

Rock at the back

Liverpool had two central defenders ruled out and Joel Matip was fit enough just for a place on the bench, so Fabinho partnered Virgil van Dijk in defence.

The Brazilian midfielder received rave reviews from Reds fans following the game after he put in an assured performance.

His only blip was when he lost Glenn Murray in the penalty area in the first half but Albion's striker headed over from 12 yards.

At the other end, Fabinho ensured Liverpool kept their lead when he blocked Pascal Gross's shot shortly after they went ahead. He then superbly cut out a Solly March pass when the winger looked to get Glenn Murray in on goal.

The fact Brighton did not have a shot on target during the game showed just how well Liverpool defended.

What next?

Despite the defeat, Brighton are still eight points clear of the relegation zone with 16 matches to play.

The Seagulls travel to Manchester United next weekend but then have a run of games they'll be targeting points from.

After the FA Cup clash with West Brom, Albion travel to Fulham and then host Watford and Burnley, while the following five home matches are against Huddersfield, Cardiff, Southampton, Bournemouth and Newcastle.

A decent points haul from the three league games following United will set Brighton up nicely for the rest of the season.

If they also get through the Baggies cup tie, it will give Chris Hughton the option of having a go at going deep in the FA Cup.