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Nothing will change at Liverpool until Jurgen Klopp addresses glaring flaw in his team

Liverpool match verdict as Paul Gorst reports on Premier League home game against Brighton after the Reds drop two more points in a 3-3 draw.


If the next six weeks represent a sort of mini-season of its own for Liverpool before the winter World Cup, then this was an opening day that was every bit as frustrating as the real one at Fulham in August.


After 28 days without a Premier League fixture, Jurgen Klopp returned to the dugout with an all-action 3-3 draw against Brighton at Anfield, but having had the best part of a month to assess exactly what had gone wrong during an opening period that had veered between the ordinary and the awful, the Reds were unable to rid themselves of the same deficiencies that had plagued them before the break.


The widespread theory that nearly a month away from the top-flight rigours would help recharge the batteries is one bathed in hope rather than expectation it seems. For large parts of this game, it was the same old listless Liverpool, as far as this season goes anyway.


The question now is just how long this sort of form is allowed to go on for before Klopp is unable to dismiss it any longer as simply early-season teething problems?


Three-three feels like a defeat even though it is not, and we have to fight through this,” said Klopp after the game. “The boys can play much better. My job is to create a situation where they can deliver. For that you need stability and consistency.”


Unfortunately, stability and consistency are two virtues that have been conspicuous only by their absence this season. An 11-point gap between them and Arsenal at the summit of the Premier League is already ominous but even more so is the fact that Manchester City can open up their own margin of 10 with victory over local rivals United on Sunday.


It surely now makes next Sunday’s visit to the high-flying, in-form Gunners an absolute must-win for the Reds already at this early juncture of the campaign.


The pre-match statistics had revealed that Liverpool were unbeaten in 26 home games in the Premier League, dating back over 18 months, but the more telling fact is the one that sees them without defeat in front of their own supporters at Anfield since April 2017.


That record looked in major jeopardy after just 18 minutes when Leandro Trossard fired the visitors into a shock 2-0 lead to take total advantage of a lumbering home side who looked racked with fear.


The first arrived after just four minutes when Liverpool failed to clear their lines before the Belgium international fired past Alisson Becker. The Seagulls winger added to his opener shortly after from a similar position after a sharp move had undone a defence that looked so shaky during a fraught opening half-hour when Roberto de Zerbi’s men could have even added to their tally through Danny Welbeck and their eventual hat-trick-hero.


“Adam Lallana, he left ’cause you’re s***!” was one of the more colourful chants emanating from the away end as those from the south coast lapped up their afternoon by the Mersey. They enjoyed their day, no question.


If so many of the qualities that Liverpool have built up during the Klopp years have deserted them in recent weeks, their character is at least still intact to an extent and the Reds deserve credit for responding so well after going two goals down at least.


And it might even be a perverse source of pride in itself that they have only lost two of the six games that have seen them concede first in all competitions this term. It’s a problem that has lingered since May, however. Liverpool conceded the first goal in six of their last seven games last season and it’s a worrying trend that has only spilled into this one.


Until that is properly addressed, this team will struggle to put together any sort of consistent run of results. For all the myriad of tactical, technical and mental issues that this team are battling through at present, the inability to start games with the right mentality has been their major flaw.


Roberto Firmino reduced arrears shortly after the half-hour mark after slotting home a pass across the face from Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian was initially judged to be offside before a VAR check allowed the goal to stand.


Klopp sent on Luis Diaz for the ineffective Fabio Carvalho at half time in an effort to inject more impetus and incision into the final third and the decision paid off inside 10 minutes when the Colombian winger embarked on a driving run before feeding Firmino, who shifted it beautifully before finishing off a fine team move from front to back also involving Thiago Alcantara, Jordan Henderson and Joel Matip, whose extravagant clearance allowed the Reds to build from the edge of their own box.


The turnaround appeared to be complete when the cumbersome Robert Sanchez punched an attempted clearance from a corner straight at Adam Webster for an own goal and 3-2 but Trossard would have other ideas with less than 10 minutes to go. There was to be no let-off and Liverpool will be unable to avoid the inquests that will inevitably follow.


The Brighton winger became the first player since Andrey Arshavin scored four in 2009 for Arsenal to register an opposition hat-trick at Anfield and it was enough to seal what was undoubtedly a deserved share of points.


After sending on Diogo Jota for the final 15 minutes, Darwin Nunez was asked to grab a late winner as stoppage time approached but the Uruguay international barely had enough time to get a kick. After his goal-scoring exploits for his national side in midweek, kicking his heels on the bench for 89 minutes will have rankled. Another week goes by as we await the take-off of the £64m striker’s Liverpool career.


The very same can be said of this Liverpool season in general. It might be too little too late when it eventually does.



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