Brighton 1–5 Liverpool: Coutinho and Firmino lead the Reds to comfortable victory over Brighton
The Samba Boys come alive as Liverpool beat Brighton 5–1 at the Falmer Stadium.
Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino both scored two goals as Liverpool eased to a 5–1 away victory at Brighton, bringing them into the Premier League top 4.
Jurgen Klopp continued his rotation policy coming into the busiest period of the season, not only with changes in personnel but also a change in formation. However, these changes did not stop the Reds from delivering a fine away performance to continue their great recent form.
Despite dominating possession early on, it took a fine Coutinho corner to set up Emre Can’s thumping header on the 30 minute mark. The lead was doubled just a minute later, with Salah and Coutinho combining superbly for Firmino to finish at the far post, giving the Reds a 2–0 lead at the break.
The action continued in the second half as Firmino made it 3–0 after a great run and set-up by Salah. Brighton pulled one back with Glenn Murray slotting home, after a soft penalty awarded by Graham Scott.
After that, it was the Coutinho show. He settled the score with a brilliant free-kick which he snuck under a jumping wall, before adding the final touches to a brilliant display with an effort which was headed in to his own net by Lewis Dunk.
The Unconventional Back Three
Usually rotating between variations of the 4–4–2 and 4–3–3 formations, this time Klopp opted for three at the back — with conventional midfielders Emre Can and Gini Wijnaldum playing on either side of Dejan Lovren.
While Can has played in that role before under Brendan Rodgers, it was suprising to see Wijnaldum being used as a centre-back instead of Ragnar Klavan who started on the bench.
However, this turned out to be a masterstroke by Klopp. With the Reds occupying most of the possession, it made perfect sense to have two “ball-playing centre-backs” in Emre Can and Wijnaldum to play the ball out from the back.
The Samba Boys Come Alive
While most of the attention these days has been on Mo Salah, today it was the Samba boys Coutinho and Firmino who provided the goods for us. Having been on the periphery over recent weeks, the Brazilians really shone with their attacking brilliance today.
Coutinho was at his imperious best, looking to link play in the middle of the park with his trickery and passing. He was involved in all 5 goals today, and showed what a top top talent he is. That free-kick… truly majestic.
Firmino played one of his best games this season, with a fine all round performance. He brought work-rate, excellent link-up play and strength on the ball in the number 9 position, and topped it off with two goals to his name. After just one goal in 10 Premier League appearances, it was great to see the Brazilian back on the scoresheet, with his crazy celebrations.
Klopp has utilised his squad perfectly over the past couple of games.
We have started the busiest period of the season with a draw against Chelsea and two away victories over Stoke and Brighton, which is admirable seeing as Klopp has used 19 different starters over these games.
We have kept key players like Mane, Henderson, Salah, Coutinho and Firmino fresh by rotating, bringing them on as subs or taking them off early, which was something that we could not do last season. We now have at least 2 capable players in each position (except maybe centre-back).
Take today for example, we rested Joe Gomez and Alberto Moreno and started with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson at wing-back, who both performed well in their respective roles. Don’t forget that we have Nathaniel Clyne who has been injured since pre-season. It is this kind of squad depth that we need in order to challenge for top honours.
It has a been a great week so far for us, and hopefully we have our best players fresh for Spartak Moscow in midweek, and for the Merseyside Derby on Sunday!