Liverpool deadly weapon fails as title hope fades – national media react to Brighton defeat – Liverpool Echo

After going over three-and-a-half years without a Premier League defeat at home, Liverpool have now lost back-to-back fixtures at Anfield with a shock 1-0 reversal to Brighton & Hove Albion.

The loss means that the reigning champions will go into Sunday’s match with table-topping Manchester City some seven points adrift of Pep Guardiola’s side who also have a game in hand.

Here’s a round-up of how the national media reported on the game.

Liverpool seemed like impostors from the team that won twice in London

David Maddock, Daily Mirror

It was the deadliest weapon of the champions, now Liverpool’s form at Anfield is fast becoming their Kryponite.

The Reds were simply unrecognisable as the Supermen who swept every team before them here in almost four imperious unbeaten years, their second Premier League defeat on home turf in just a fortnight administered by lowly Brighton.

It is hard to fathom what has gone so drastically wrong for Liverpool.

One defeat here, to Burnley, you can put down to bad luck, but two is pure carelessness. They seemed like impostors from the team which won twice in six magnificent days in London in their previous two matches.

But whatever the malaise, it surely signals the end of their title defence.

And Brighton could have had more, the unlikely figure of Dan Burn spurning two amazing chances.

They won though, thanks to a goal in the second half from Steven Alzate, the boy from Camden who plays for Colombia through his parents’ nationality.

He produced one of the biggest moments of his career so far, though he probably knew little about it as the ball looped up off him, perhaps even flicking up off Leandro Trossard to leave stand in Liverpool keeper Caoimhín Kelleher bemused.

It was a goal that exposed Liverpool’s startling collapse this season, and their thoughts ahead of the weekend clash with Manchester City will be far from the title showdown it was once billed, and surely now on whether they can finish in the top four.

Liverpool’s patchwork quilt line-up is starting to fray

Dominic King, Daily Mail

They will all say there is a long way to go, that nothing should be assumed. It will be pointed out there are many games to be played and the potential for big changes.

Don’t listen to it. Throughout a season, there is always one night when the balance of a title race swings inexorably in the favour of one team and it seems increasingly like we will look back at February 3 as providing the defining events.

After Manchester City had swamped Burnley, Liverpool had no margin for error. The champions, however, have lost that sureness of touch and the speed from their play and they walked into a sucker-punch from Brighton that has left them gasping on the canvas.

Full credit to Brighton. They had not won at Anfield since 1982 and had not beaten Liverpool in any competition since 1984 but Steven Alzate’s 56th minute goal was just reward for a performance full of grit and determination, in which their defenders never put a foot wrong.

Anfield has been like a cash machine for Liverpool during Jurgen Klopp’s reign, with wins available on tap, but they have now suffered back-to-back home defeats for the first time since September 2012 and, increasingly, it feels like their grip on the trophy – for this year at least – has gone.

Liverpool have done their best to remain positive through the campaign, as injuries to key men have mounted up, and the latest setback with which they had to deal was an overnight illness that ruled goalkeeper Alisson Becker out of this fixture.

They are like a patchwork quilt at the moment, different bits being stitched together to make something cohesive. It says everything for their mentality that they had managed to ride through a difficult period of results but there has always been a concern that the quilt would eventually fray.

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No title defence unless Liverpool rediscover their way at Anfield, and fast

Andy Hunter, The Guardian

The need to defeat Manchester City on Sunday has become more pressing for Liverpool. There will be no title defence unless Jurgen Klopp’s team rediscover their way at Anfield, and fast.

Just when it seemed the Premier League champions had reinvigorated their campaign with successive away wins at Tottenham and West Ham, they succumbed to a second consecutive home defeat as Brighton executed their gameplan to perfection to record a first league win over Liverpool since 1982.

“Mentally fatigued,” was Klopp’s explanation. The same could be said of their legs. Creatively and clinically, Liverpool were found wanting again as they failed to score in a third successive home league game for the first time since October 1984. They rarely looked like doing so either as Brighton, defensively superb and dangerous whenever they broke, remained composed en route to a merited victory.

Steven Alzate provided the winning goal courtesy of a huge strike of fortune, but the polished move behind it illustrated the confidence and style of Graham Potter’s improving side.

Liverpool’s crown is slipping and all the fun is in Manchester now

Chris Bascombe, Daily Telegraph

You wait nearly four years for a Premier League home defeat and then two come along at once. Jurgen Klopp will not appreciate the irony.

What was billed as the tightest race in years may be on the verge of becoming a procession after Brighton’s Steven Alzate condemned the champions to the latest calamitous setback in their title defence.

If Liverpool’s crown was already slipping, Manchester City can take a step towards a third coronation in four years when they come to Anfield this weekend.

Brighton succeeded where Liverpool’s top four rivals from London recently failed, capitalising on the defensive vulnerabilities, and exposing the lack of attacking potency to win in this stadium for the first time since 1982. Take a bow Graham Potter. Ambition was rewarded. One wonders what Spurs and West Ham fans thought watching this.

All the fun is in Manchester now. The path could be clear for City and United to fight among themselves, Liverpool looking over the shoulder at those with Champions League aspirations whose hopes keep being refreshed by the rampant inconsistency of Klopp’s side.

The champions cannot withstand continuous line-up changes. There ought to be a weekly sweep at Anfield to guess which senior players will be absent next.

You can’t make any definitive predictions about what happens next in this league. What is certain is if Liverpool do not win their next home game, the Premier League trophy’s absence from Manchester will be brief.

What has gone wrong this season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Too predictable and too pedestrian, Liverpool didn’t look themselves

Melissa Reddy, Independent

Brighton secured their first victory over Liverpool in the league since March 1982, condemning Jurgen Klopp’s side to their second consecutive defeat at Anfield.

You’d have to rewind to 2012 for the last period the hosts lost twice on the spin in the top-flight here, an eventuality that seemed implausible not so long ago.

It was Burnley that ended their 68-game unbeaten home run and Brighton ensured the champions failed to score in three consecutive fixtures in the division at Anfield – something that has not happened since October 1984.

Potter’s disciplined, direct charges were deserving of their maximum haul, mixing graft with smarts to be both obstructive and dangerous.

The goalkeeper was missing through illness, with Sadio Mane still nursing a muscle issue. Where last season the Merseysiders collected points relentlessly, in this campaign it has been replaced by a ceaseless loss of players, largely through serious injury.

Perhaps unsurprisingly then, Liverpool reverted to not looking quite themselves after consecutive victories away to Tottenham and West Ham.

Liverpool tried and tried again to break Brighton down, but they were too predictable and too pedestrian.

The opponents didn’t give them an inch as they secured four consecutive league clean sheets for the first time in the top flight to crown a historic victory.

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