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Winners & Losers

Liverpool, that was absolute dross: Winners, losers & ratings as Klopp's flops offer further proof they're in big trouble

17:40 GMT 14/01/2023
Liverpool FC 2022-23
The Reds' nightmare season reached a new low as they were battered 3-0 by Brighton at the Amex Stadium to further damage their top-four hopes.

Liverpool’s season from hell reached a new low on Saturday, as Jurgen Klopp’s men suffered a 3-0 defeat to Brighton which leaves their hopes of a top-four finish in tatters.

The Reds have been a shadow of their former selves throughout a nightmare campaign, and they were second best again at the Amex Stadium, as Roberto De Zerbi’s side, slick, organised and everything the visitors are not in terms of energy and confidence, thoroughly deserved their win.

Solly March did the damage for the Seagulls, striking twice in the space of six second-half minutes to give his side a cushion. Substitute Danny Welbeck added a third late on as Brighton move above Liverpool in the Premier League table, and leave Klopp scratching his head at yet another rotten away showing from his side.

Liverpool have now lost their first two league games of a calendar year for the first time since 1993, and look a team bereft of belief, ideas and cohesion. Their midfield, continually criticised throughout this campaign, was non-existent again, their defence was unable to cope under the constant pressure it was placed under, and a makeshift attack featuring new signing Cody Gakpo on his Premier League debut offered nothing by way of a goal threat.

They are in big trouble, clearly. They could find themselves 10 points off the top four by the end of the weekend, and it would take a brave punter to back them to fight back from the position they currently find themselves in.

Here, GOAL runs through the winners and losers from the Amex…

  • Solly March Brighton 2022-23

    The Winners

    Solly March:

    He might not be the most glamorous or well-known of Premier League footballers, but he's a fine and reliable player, is Solly March. Brighton wouldn't swap him for anyone, I'm sure, and he was their match-winner here. Starting on the right of the home side's attack, the 28-year-old was a permanent threat as he stretched the pitch, found space with ease and constantly ran at a Reds backline that got little to no protection from what was in front of it. March might have had a penalty in the first half when fouled by Alisson Becker, only for the VAR to spot a tight offside, but he was there where it mattered to slip home Kaoru Mitoma's low cross and open the scoring, two minutes after the break, and soon after he was there again, arrowing a beautiful left-foot shot across Alisson and into the far corner, after yet another lung-busting run from deep. He's played more than 250 games for Albion, the majority in the top flight, but is yet to win a senior England cap. Playing like this, that could change soon.

    Kaoru Mitoma:

    You didn't have to look far to find strong performers in blue and white, but aside from March, one man stood out a mile. Never mind Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister, in Kaoru Mitoma, Brighton have found themselves another gem who looks like he could earn them big money down the line. The 25-year-old Japanese international actually joined the Seagulls in 2021, but spent last season on loan in Belgium with Union Saint-Gilloise as he waited to qualify for a UK work permit. He’s here now, though, and boy can he play. Starting on the left of Roberto De Zerbi’s attack, he was too quick and too sharp for Trent Alexander-Arnold, repeatedly storming past the England international and into dangerous positions. From one of those, he was able to set up the opener for March, and he might have capitalised himself on a few others, denied on more than one occasion by Alisson or by desperate defending. He got a standing ovation when replaced late on, and no wonder. This was a hell of a display. The kind Liverpool could do with, actually.

    Liverpool's injured players:

    There's only one to come out well from a performance like this; don't be a part of it. The return of Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Virgil van Dijk cannot come soon enough, as far as the Reds are concerned, but the worry is that even a full-strength squad wouldn't solve this team's issues. This is a broken side, one in need of desperate surgery. And quick.

  • Jurgen Klopp Liverpool 2022-23

    The Losers

    Jordan Henderson:

    Listen, he was far from the only one wearing red to struggle here. And listen, he’s been a great servant to Liverpool down the years, and has come back after being written off on more than one occasion. But boy is Henderson struggling at the moment. Time waits for no man, goes the saying, and the England international is looking every one of his 32 years right now. His first-half performance here was painful, second to everything, petrified in possession and bewildered by midfielders who were quicker, stronger, smarter and just plain better. His frustration showed with a late challenge on Moises Caicedo, which earned him a yellow card, and it was a surprise to see the captain emerge for the second half in all honesty. He lasted until the 69th minute, as it happens, but that is as much down to Klopp's lack of faith in his other midfield options as anything else, surely?

    Joel Matip:

    You felt for Matip in the first half at times, asked repeatedly to get himself involved in footraces with the likes of Mitoma and Evan Ferguson down the Liverpool right. But you could have no sympathy with the defender when, a couple of minutes after the restart and with his side desperately in need of a bit of composure and experience, he misplaced a risky pass into Henderson and allowed Brighton to break. They did so with relish, the break ending with March knocking in their opening goal. Liverpool, having escaped until the interval and then surely had a half-time rocket from Klopp, suddenly found themselves where they deserved to be. Behind and chasing the game. They never looked like recovering.

    Jurgen Klopp:

    "We speak about it as if we are bottom of the league. We are not." Klopp had stated at his pre-match press conference on Friday, but this was the kind of performance relegation strugglers turn in. We know that Liverpool are not themselves, but they have not been this bad at any point this season. Their display was unbefitting a club of such size, history and ambition, and the sight of the away end emptying rapidly before the final whistle spoke volumes. Klopp and his players could have no complaints, the fans who had trekked down to the South Coast in the rain deserved far, far better than to watch the dross their team served up. Liverpool have sent their supporters on the most wonderful of rides in recent seasons, but they are punishing them at the moment. This was another weekend-ruiner. Whatever you do, steer clear of Klopp for the next 48 hours or so. He won't be good company.

  • Trent Alexander-Arnold Liverpool 2022-23

    Liverpool Ratings: Defence

    Alisson Becker (6/10):

    Escaped conceding a penalty thanks to VAR but was left exposed time and time again by his defence and midfield.

    Trent Alexander-Arnold (5/10):

    Tormented by the brilliant Mitoma, and had no answer. Put in some good balls that didn't get the finish they deserved in the second half

    Joel Matip (4/10):

    Booked for taking out Mitoma, and gave the ball away sloppily for Brighton's opener. Subbed.

    Ibrahima Konate (6/10):

    Some sloppy passes, although his options weren't great. Recovery pace vital in the first half, but crumbled like the rest after the break.

    Andy Robertson (5/10):

    Had a tough time against March, and offered little going the other way.

  • Thiago Liverpool 2022-23

    Midfield

    Fabinho (4/10):

    A mile off the pace, though did play one good ball to Salah first half. Looked like he was running in quicksand at times.

    Jordan Henderson (3/10):

    His first half showing was about as bad as it gets. He was lucky to last as long as he did.

    Thiago Alcantara (4/10):

    Started as an advanced No.10, but barely saw the ball. Dropped deeper and couldn't keep it. A poor performance.

  • Mohamed Salah Liverpool 2022-23

    Attack

    Mohamed Salah (5/10):

    So isolated it was untrue. He did at least try and provide a threat, but he had nothing to work with.

    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (4/10):

    Anonymous and didn't offer great protection to Robertson. Might have done better with a headed chance

    Cody Gakpo (5/10):

    Started as a No.9, but his lack of searing pace meant he couldn't stretch the Brighton defence as, say, Darwin Nunez might. Kept going, but must be wondering what the hell he's walked into.

  • Jurgen Klopp Liverpool 2022-23

    Subs & Manager

    Naby Keita (6/10):

    How did it take 69 minutes for Klopp to bring him on?!

    Ben Doak (6/10):

    A kid thrown on to chase a lost cause. Sums up Liverpool at the moment.

    Harvey Elliott (5/10):

    Missed a chance. First over to the away end at the final whistle.

    Joe Gomez (5/10):

    Got done by Welbeck for the third goal.

    Jurgen Klopp (4/10):

    His side either aren't good enough or aren't listening. Maybe it's both.