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Brighton 0 Liverpool 1 (Jan 12 2019)

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Report by
Dave Usher

 

One of the biggest wins of the season under the circumstances. A nice four or five goal stroll would have been preferable of course, but it was somewhat fitting that we did it this way, as we are where we are this season based on this kind of ultra professional, ballsy win. 

 

Losing against City shouldn’t have had any negative impact on the confidence of the players as it was a tight game that could have gone either way. In isolation that loss wasn’t going to do too much damage to our title chances either, providing of course that we just picked right up where we’d left off before that defeat. This game was huge in terms of that.

 

It was as big a test as we've had all season. Anything other than three points would have been utterly soul destroying and probably season changing. We can’t give City any encouragement as they’re capable of going unbeaten between now and the end of the season. So are we though.

 

You can’t always smack lesser teams about and on those difficult days when it becomes a slog, the only thing that counts is winning. We’ve had loads of these grind it out wins and it must be doing City’s head in. When we were chasing them it was their close wins that got to me more than the beatdowns. They’ll have hated this, as right until the very end there was the hope for them that we might drop points.

 

But we didn’t drop points. We did what we’ve done all season and took care of business. We haven’t had to do it like this very often in recent weeks but earlier in the season these kind of wins were becoming the norm. We’re becoming machine-like and it’s great.

 

More often than not you’ll beat the weaker sides with plenty to spare, but not always. Sometimes it’s tight and tense. Teams that don’t win the title can usually point to these scrappy games as the reason why. It’s so easy to drop points in these games but so far we’ve got a 100% record against sides outside of the top five. Incredible.

 

To do that you can’t afford any mistakes at the back and you have to find a way to get the breakthrough at the other end. Brighton didn’t have a single shot on target (and they only had a couple off target) and although we only managed the one goal when you defend like we do now, that’s usually enough. 

 

I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to saying that after all these years of keystone cops defending and 4-3 wins, but this is where we are now. Big Virgil has transformed the culture. It’s all about the clean sheets.

 

The big man was imperious again in this game. Fabinho did well alongside him too, but Virgil is so good, so dominant and so much of a leader that Klopp could have probably dragged someone out of the away end and Van Dijk would have been able to carry them through the game. That’s doing Fabinho a bit of a dis-service, but you get the point. Seeing him yelling and pointing and making sure everyone is doing their jobs just makes you feel safe, doesn't it? The game is in the balance, but you think "it's fine, Virgil's got this".

 

This is just a teaser, click here to view the full report

 

Please note that Match Reports are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here. 

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24 minutes ago, rb14 said:

Liverpool penalty at Old Trafford. Comedy genius. 

Didn't we get 3 pens at old Trafford not that long ago ?

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23 minutes ago, rb14 said:

Liverpool penalty at Old Trafford. Comedy genius. 

Didn’t we get three penalties there when Moyes was manager?

That should be our lot for the next 100 years.

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I thought Mo’s pen was good.  The keeper went the right way and still couldn’t stop it.  I agree though.  He doesn’t seem to be a natural penalty taker and you always feel like he’s going to miss.  Off that showing though it looks like he’s been practicing them.  He was the star man for me because he did basically decide I’m going to win this game and went and did it.

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I know it's verboten to say anything positive about Danny Murphy's punditry, but if there is one thing he knows what he is talking about it's taking a penalty, and I remembered his analysis of Lukaku's penalty miss in the Cup semi-final against Man Utd a few years back. He said Lukaku deliberately missed because deep down that's that what the Bitters wanted approached the ball too fast which made it difficult to make any adjustments based on the goalie's positioning, and there was a similar feel to Mo's penalty. He slung his leg at the target with all the grace of a wrecking ball. Even watching it knowing he had scored, I had a moment of panic at how sloppy it all was. Amidst all the micromanaging of sports teams, the extent to which taking a penalty seems to be left to chance, whether it be who takes it or the amount of preparation they do, is utterly bizarre.

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Think Kevin Friend must have a major beef with the south coast clubs. The last time he did'nt screw us over when he had the chance was away against Southampton a few years ago. 

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1 hour ago, Jose Jones said:

Didn’t we get three penalties there when Moyes was manager?

That should be our lot for the next 100 years.

Yup. Should have had three last season, didn't get any.

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2 hours ago, deiseach said:

I know it's verboten to say anything positive about Danny Murphy's punditry, but if there is one thing he knows what he is talking about it's taking a penalty, and I remembered his analysis of Lukaku's penalty miss in the Cup semi-final against Man Utd a few years back. He said Lukaku deliberately missed because deep down that's that what the Bitters wanted approached the ball too fast which made it difficult to make any adjustments based on the goalie's positioning, and there was a similar feel to Mo's penalty. He slung his leg at the target with all the grace of a wrecking ball. Even watching it knowing he had scored, I had a moment of panic at how sloppy it all was. Amidst all the micromanaging of sports teams, the extent to which taking a penalty seems to be left to chance, whether it be who takes it or the amount of preparation they do, is utterly bizarre.

Aye, the old saying "if in doubt, twat it as hard as you can" still seems very relevant.

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The 100% record against the sides outside the top 6 is incredible. Also amazing that we've only conceded 3 goals all season to those teams with Cardiff, Burnley and Leicester being the lucky 3.

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3 hours ago, deiseach said:

I know it's verboten to say anything positive about Danny Murphy's punditry, but if there is one thing he knows what he is talking about it's taking a penalty, and I remembered his analysis of Lukaku's penalty miss in the Cup semi-final against Man Utd a few years back. He said Lukaku deliberately missed because deep down that's that what the Bitters wanted approached the ball too fast which made it difficult to make any adjustments based on the goalie's positioning, and there was a similar feel to Mo's penalty. He slung his leg at the target with all the grace of a wrecking ball. Even watching it knowing he had scored, I had a moment of panic at how sloppy it all was. Amidst all the micromanaging of sports teams, the extent to which taking a penalty seems to be left to chance, whether it be who takes it or the amount of preparation they do, is utterly bizarre.

I've always found just how little effort most teams put into researching opposition penalty takers baffling as well. You'd think the goalkeeper and goalkeeping coach would spend a long session going over where players are likely to take it in the week before a game, but most keepers seem to just randomly make some half-hearted dive and hope for the best. Obviously the taker is the favourite in the situation and if he hits it perfectly into a corner will score every time, but there are definitely patterns with some takers which keepers seem to pay no attention to at all. I'm amazed no keeper has ever just decided that they're just not going to dive when Hazard takes a penalty no matter how much he tries to convince them otherwise that he's not going to just roll it down the middle again.

 

Salah certainly never really fills me with much confidence on penalties. It probably is only a matter of time before he misses one and let's just hope it's in a game we're winning by a few goals rather than late on in a 0-0 draw or something. The trouble is there's not really anyone else in the squad who looks a better option. Firmino has missed a fair few, Mane seems to be terrible at them. Milner is probably the most reliable but even he's missed some and he's not always on the pitch to take them anyway. Wasn't Fabinho supposed to have an outstanding penalty taking record? Yet he's never seemed to show any inclination to take any. I guess maybe the worry would be what the reaction would be if a defensive midfielder took the ball away from an attacking player and then actually missed.

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I'm getting more and more nervous and anxious as each game goes by. I was on edge watching that game on Saturday and still couldn't rest easy watching it on MOTD. Robertson said it will go down to the wire and I think he's right. The thing is; My own wire will have nothing left of it come May.

 

Stress.

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I was there and had partaken in a few shandies but although the first half was a non-event I was never really that nervous. I think it's just belief based on what this team has done so far. There are times when you think the only way the other team are going to score is if we fuck up massively. We seem to have a few leaders and cool head on the pitch now in VVD and Milner, but also Fabinho and Allison. It's like we expect to succeed. I'm more than happy to buy into that confidence even if it comes back and bites me on the arse. 

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4 hours ago, deiseach said:

I know it's verboten to say anything positive about Danny Murphy's punditry, but if there is one thing he knows what he is talking about it's taking a penalty, and I remembered his analysis of Lukaku's penalty miss in the Cup semi-final against Man Utd a few years back. He said Lukaku deliberately missed because deep down that's that what the Bitters wanted approached the ball too fast which made it difficult to make any adjustments based on the goalie's positioning, and there was a similar feel to Mo's penalty. He slung his leg at the target with all the grace of a wrecking ball. Even watching it knowing he had scored, I had a moment of panic at how sloppy it all was. Amidst all the micromanaging of sports teams, the extent to which taking a penalty seems to be left to chance, whether it be who takes it or the amount of preparation they do, is utterly bizarre.

I actually think he’s talking a load of shite there.  Very few penalty takers pay any attention to the keeper and rightly so in my eyes.  The best way to score a penalty is hit it hard and as close to one of the four corners as possible.  You get some players who try to use their body to send the keeper the wrong way etc but even then I’d say they know where they’re going when they run up.  If Murphy reckons he’s changing direction on the run up or thinking he needs to get it closer to the corner because the keepers already moved he’s chatting absolute wham.  He should be getting it as close to the corner as he can anyway.

 

I agree on your last bit though.  If Mo is going to take the penalties then he should be practicing them every day and being coached on it as much as any other details he gets.  On the basis of the weekends penalty I reckon it has definitely been practiced.  He’s never hit a pen like that before.  He twatted an earlier one right down the middle and that felt a bit dodgy but generally he’s always been the type to try and place it and hit it too softly.

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We must be indulging Salah by giving him pens because it's pretty clear he's not great at them. We've got to give one to Fabinho at some point. He was one of the best pen takers in the world at Monaco. 

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Was it England under Hoddle that didn't practice any penalties because there is no point; you can't recreate the pressure? 

 

One of the most obtuse viewpoints in football. 

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Pearce (or someone else ) from the Echo was saying that the ball over the top was actually a tactic that they'd worked on for the game

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Yeah it's been a ploy we've used against defensive sides at times this season. Usually Mane or Salah making a diagonal run and someone like Van Dijk or Fabinho picking them out. We've had some joy with it.

 

This was different though. The passes were never on and it's hard to turn around a team who are that deep anyway. Would much prefer to see us just do the Man City thing and play around the back of them and whip the ball across the box.

 

The best player we have at that is Milner. Wonder where he learnt to do it?

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The game changed when Salah started to drop deep to pick up the ball and then was able to turn and run at them - very Messi-esque tactic from us and one we should be using against all deep lying sides.

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We need to just get Mane to stay wide and double up with Robertson on their full back.  Whenever sides play ultra negative it’s generally the only way through.  We can’t rely on refs giving us stonewall penalties all season.

 

I like the long ball stuff early on in games as it stops us getting caught cold trying to play out when the game hasn’t settled.  Unless the opposition start playing higher though I’d stop it after 10/15 mins.

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8 hours ago, TheHowieLama said:

The game changed when Salah started to drop deep to pick up the ball and then was able to turn and run at them - very Messi-esque tactic from us and one we should be using against all deep lying sides.

Yeah, I don’t think we’ve seen it all that much from him but whenever he does drop deep it just makes us look ridiculously potent and dangerous. More of that, please 

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