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Defeat against Arsenal next week would signal the end of Liverpool’s title bid

There is no case for the defence as Reds rearguard given the runaround by Brighton

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino, Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho dejected after Brighton's second goal. Photo:Peter Byrne/PA Wire.© PA

Brighton's Leandro Trossard celebrates completing his hat-trick against Liverpool. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.© PA

John AldridgeSunday World

Nothing less than a win would have done for Liverpool after a difficult start to the season, but a title challenge seems a long way off after what I witnessed from high in the stands at Anfield.

Defensively, Liverpool have been all over the shop since the opening day of the season – and that story continued against Brighton.

If anything, the defensive display yesterday was the worst yet and Klopp has to be worried.

Liverpool’s full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kostas Tsimikas had were given a chasing by a Brighton side that were more than good enough to expose Liverpool’s problems.

Tsimikas was taken off by Klopp and he probably should have taken Alexander-Arnold off as well because they couldn’t cope with what was coming at them.

Throw in some worrying performances from Liverpool’s midfielders and too many missed chances in the final third and you have a story that sums up why more points were dropped.

The trouble for Klopp is solving these problems will not be easy and, already, you are looking at Manchester City and Arsenal at the top of the table and they seem a long way in the distance.

Liverpool go to Emirates Stadium to face league leaders Arsenal next Sunday – and if they lose that, they will be 14 points behind the Gunners.

They could also be 13 points behind Man City if they were to lose next weekend and you have to say that would be game over in the title race.

In all honesty, the title might already be done for Liverpool this year and I didn’t expect to be writing that in my Sunday World column on October 2nd.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates Roberto Firmino goal. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.© PA

Liverpool have got problems defensively and until they get those sorted, points will continue to evaporate.

I would give Brighton a lot of credit because they worked their socks off and showed real quality in the final third.

It felt like every time they attacked, they were going to score and Alisson needed to make some big saves to keep Liverpool in the game.

Klopp’s high line is often spoken about as a weak spot for the opposition to attack, but a lot of the chances they created were in the box as they put together some fine passing moves and capitalised on Liverpool errors.

Thiago Alcantara is a fine player, but he was giving the ball away far too often and Fabinho also looked off the pace.

Alexander-Arnold also looked rattled and you can understand why.

England manager Gareth Southgate doesn’t fancy Trent for his team, but the way he has gone about managing the situation has been poor.

He left him out of the entire squad for England’s game against Germany last Monday and that inevitably created a stir in the media.

Klopp gave a passionate defence of Trent in his press conference on Friday and all this noise looked like it was affecting the lad yesterday.

I felt he was trying too hard to make an impact yesterday and I’ve been there myself.

When I wasn’t scoring goals in Jack Charlton’s Ireland team, I found myself doing things to try and dig myself out of the problem, but that never works.

Trent is a fine player and one of the best in the world in terms of delivery into the box, but he is in a hole at the moment.

Brighton's Leandro Trossard celebrates completing his hat-trick against Liverpool. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.© PA

His form was just one of the problems Klopp was contending with in the opening half an hour, as Brighton moved into a 2-0 lead and they could have been further ahead.

Liverpool needed a break to get back into the game and they got it as a VAR decision went in their favour and Roberto Firmino’s goal was allowed to stand after 33 minutes.

You could feel the wave of relief sweeping over Anfield as it was approved, but Liverpool’s defensive problems were still in evidence in the final third of the first half.

The next goal in the game was always going to be important and Liverpool got it through Firmino.

Then then third goal came and the roar at Anfield must have been heard all the way across the Irish Sea to Dún Laoghaire.

The hope was Liverpool would kick on from there and secure a big win, but the defensive problems came back to haunt them.

Alexander-Arnold’s day went from bad to worse in the last 20 minutes as he was attacked time and again by Brighton.

I felt Klopp could have taken him out of the firing line and put Joe Gomez into the full-back position.

Yet he stuck with Alexander-Arnold and Brighton has so much joy going at him and playing on his insecurities.

In the end, Liverpool emerged from the game with a point, but that wasn’t enough after a start to the season that has seen too many points disappear.

Liverpool now have to find some defensive solidity ahead of the Champions League game against Rangers on Tuesday night before what looks like a must-win game against Arsenal next Sunday.

The confidence is gone at the back and it needs to return quickly if Liverpool are to keep this season afloat.

The harsh reality must be that if Klopp’s players defend as they did against Brighton yesterday, the problems that have undermined their season so far will continue.


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