371 days. It’s been over a full calendar year since the last time Liverpool Football Club won a game 1-0. Today, that clock has been reset. The thing about a 1-0 win is that it’s not always pretty. But, it doesn’t have to be. Instead, it gets to be satisfying. Very, very satisfying. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be having the time of my life if this team were hanging 5 every week, and I certainly wouldn’t be complaining. But, winning 1-0 is just as important— if not more.
The first half didn’t feel like it was going to end 1-0, quite the opposite actually. There were chances early and often, but as we would later find out, the front three just weren’t clicking. But that’s okay, because the midfield, defense, and goalkeeper definitely were clicking.
Maybe a different tune would be sung if the two chances Liverpool had within 10 minutes of kickoff had gone in. First, in the 5th moment Salah bursted forward with the ball after finding a pocket of space. He’d lay it off to Mane near the penalty spot, who would then place the ball just wide of the net. The second of the two chances was denied by a brilliant save from Brighton’s keeper, Matt Ryan. Andy Robertson whipped in a cross from the left flank that found itself on the head of Roberto Frimino. Frimino snapped his head and almost found the back of the net, but Ryan just got his hand down low enough to save it. The best save of the match, but not by much.
The goal. In the 22nd minute, Brighton took a free kick from the top of their penalty area and had planned on building up an attack from the back. But, as Bissouma took the ball off the center back, James Milner snatched the ball away and three seconds later the ball was in the goal. Milner got the ball to Firmino, who laid it off to Salah, who slotted it home. A patented Jürgen Klopp goal. Liverpool could’ve entered the half time break up 3 or 4, but none of their other chances found the net.
The second half was cagey, lively, nervy, and what dreams were made of all at the same time. The second half was everything. The second half was everything James Milner is. Brighton came out of the break fully intending to nick a goal in ten minutes, but big Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez weren’t having that. Any time a Brighton attacker picked up the ball in the middle circle, one of those two were there to clean it up. Easy.
The last ten minutes perfectly encapsulates the entire match. End to end stuff. Alive. Brighton found themselves with a great opportunity to steal a point, but Alisson wasn’t going to allow a goal. That’s why you spend the money. The dribbling and passing is really great, but the saves are what get you all 3 points in a match like this one.
A word for the keeper: Cool. I imagine he’d not break a sweat if he was on the surface of the sun. Just look at him do this.
A word for the defense: Resolve. It’s been over a decade since Liverpool has had a defensive unit that can win them games, and that’s exactly what this unit can do. They did it today. Virgil van Dijk is absolutely worth every penny spend on him. Andy Robertson is still running down the left flank. Joe Gomez has not only kept his composure with the opportunity he’s been given, but he’s excelled. And my word, what a pass from Trent. We’ve got a special one on our hands here.
A word for the midfield: Milner. James Milner was everything and everywhere today. He made the goal happen, he made the press happen, and he made everything else happen. He’s sharing a midfield with some other talented lads, but he’s been the shinning star early on this season, especially today.
And a word for the forwards: Off. And that’s okay. Sometimes it doesn’t click for you. But this is how good they are, that when their off their mark, they are still world class. Mane should’ve scored. Firmino nearly scored. Salah did score, but could’ve had more. Still pretty good for an off day, huh?
Onto Leicester. Up the Top of the League Reds.