Injury to Liverpool’s resident firefighter James Milner adds to Jurgen Klopp’s frustration as his side’s resources are reduced further
- James Milner became the latest addition to Liverpool’s treatment table
- The versatile Milner suffered an injury during Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at Brighton
- Liverpool’s foundations are crumbling and their performances are suffering
- Jurgen Klopp sensationally blamed BT Sport’s Des Kelly for Milner’s injury
It was always going to take something special to douse the mood of Jurgen Klopp with even more salt, to make even more steam billow from those ears.
Well 90 minutes at the AMEX provided just the ticket. The Liverpool manager arrived here in a huff about scheduling and the demands on his players. By the final whistle, all he could do was stalk linesman Gary Beswick, clapping sarcastically in his shadow.
In the end, it was the officials who bore the brunt of his frustrations after their last-minute intervention.
James Milner suffered an injury during the game versus Brighton to add to Liverpool’s issues
Having seen VAR deny his side twice, Klopp watched Stuart Atwell trot over to his pitchside monitor for the formality of changing his mind.
Penalty, equaliser, and a infuriating end to a miserable week for Liverpool.
Sympathy will be in short supply among Klopp’s detractors. But most can forgive the frustration. Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Thiago Alcantara were already jostling for position on the treatment table after the early weeks of this unforgiving campaign. Now they’ll have to make room for the resident firefighter, too.
In the closing stages of this draw, the latest leg of a punishing winter campaign, James Milner sunk to the floor. There he sat, unmoved. On the touchline, his manager stood unamused. Very soon Klopp turned to Curtis Jones, their third right back of the day, the second having to occupy unfamiliar territory.
Neco Williams started at right-back but struggled and was taken off after 45 minutes
Earlier Milner was forced to fill in for Neco Williams, the young work in progress who was sacrificed after a difficult 45 minutes which included a rash challenge to gift Brighton their first penalty.
It meant Liverpool finished the game with a back four that featured two midfielders and kid making only his second Premier League start. It is testament to their mettle and their enduring quality at the other end that they almost escaped here with three points and a clean sheet.
Liverpool’s foundations are crumbling and now their performances are starting to suffer
Instead Klopp’s frustrations are snowballing. Their foundations are crumbling and their performances are suffering now too. Even before the injury to Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool’s backline has teetered under the spotlight. The high line, the individual errors, the sense of vulnerability which has emerged in recent months.
That glare was only ever going to become more blinding after Van Dijk limped out of Goodison Park. Since then, though, Liverpool have conceded only six goals. They have lost only once – against Atalanta in midweek. But this was another defensive display to concern those Liverpool fans preparing to return to the stands.
Nat Phillips started at centre-back for Liverpool but endured a difficult afternoon v Brighton
In the five league matches without Van Dijk, Klopp has named five different centre back partnerships. You’d be brave to predict their back four for this week’s visit of Ajax?
Here it was Fabinho and Nat Phillips preferred as Joel Matip’s creaking body was given a rest. Neither will remember this day with fondness. They so nearly escaped with a clean sheet but, in truth, that would have belied their struggles.
Too often, in the first half particularly, they were pulled this way and that by the clever moment of Aaron Connolly. Too often they were undone by simple balls in behind. Only for wasteful finishing to be their friend.
In the end, Brighton got what their performance deserved. But that won’t be any comfort to Klopp who leaves with even more quibbles and questions to ponder.