Liverpool have suffered one of the shocks of the season being beaten 1-0 by Brighton at Anfield on Wednesday night.
After spending almost three years unbeaten at home in the Premier League, this was their second loss at Anfield in the space of 13 days after losing 1-0 to Burnley less than a fortnight ago.
The Reds also failed to score at home for the third straight home league game. It was a disappointing reality after the scintillating performance against West Ham three days earlier where we were assured Liverpool were most certainly back to their best this time around.
Their failure to score was once again due to their failure to break down an “inferior” team that puts the men behind the ball and deploys a low block. Liverpool only had one shot on target, and it only happened in the 70th minute.
After sweeping Crystal Palace in December, this failure to break down squads has become a real problem; Newcastle, West Brom, Burnley, Southampton, Manchester United and now Brighton have all taken points. For a team that have been ravaged by defensive injuries this season, it’s not really at the back where they struggle.
In the extended absence of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, the unlikely pair of Nat Phillips and Jordan Henderson were arguably the Reds’ best players on Wednesday night.
It’s unfortunate that Henderson has taken on the role of center-back so proficiently, as what he gives defensively is such a big loss to Liverpool in midfield. The Reds’ defensive injury crisis has indirectly negatively impacted their ability to attack.
The presence of Henderson in midfield is a real failure. In Liverpool’s 7-0 win over Crystal Palace he was magnificent, not only in the way he pulverized assists, led Liverpool forward and entered the scoresheet himself, but in his willingness to go back to give Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold the freedom to tear each other apart.
Liverpool looked the most dangerous against Brighton when Henderson was able to put his side behind quickly with a long instinctive pass before the Seagulls could organize themselves defensively.
The Liverpool skipper picked Mohamed Salah in the opening trade of the first half, with the Liverpool forward taking over from imperious Dan Burn for the only time of the evening. He fired Robertson in the second half with a similar probing pass.
For everything Henderson gives Liverpool defensively as cover in midfield, the Reds really miss him as a driving force in their midfield. Liverpool fans are hopeful that their new signing center-backs can free Jordan Henderson.