First XI

Media review: Liverpool

How the websites and newspapers reported Saturday's 3-0 win at the Amex.

By Nick Szczepanik • 15 January 2023

By Paul Hazlewood
Danny Welbeck takes the congratulations after scoring our third goal.

Another Sunday morning, another selection of headlines and reports praising an excellent Albion performance. These are great days to be a Brighton fan.

It has been claimed recently that the Seagulls can entertain on the road but struggle to find the same fluency at home. Tell that to Manchester United, Chelsea and now Liverpool, the latest of the Big Six to bite the dust at The Amex.

“Explosive from the start, tenacious in the press and with their right winger scoring twice in a brilliant victory,” wrote Tom Allnutt in the Sunday Times. “Not Liverpool and Mohamed Salah but Brighton & Hove Albion and Solly March, who ripped Jürgen Klopp’s team to shreds and could easily have scored more.

“Is there a better team to watch in the Premier League right now than Brighton? They overtook Liverpool with this victory and have European football in their sights. March deserved his two goals but Kaoru Mitoma was superb too down the left. Alexis Mac Allister and Moisés Caicedo were imperious in midfield and the 18-year-old Evan Ferguson showed again why so many are excited about his future.

“Mitoma once shelved his playing career to attend the University of Tsukuba in his homeland, where he researched how to dribble and how best to beat an opponent one against one. He wrote a thesis on the subject but the answer seemed simple here: with pace, because every time he set off, Liverpool were unable to keep up.


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March: I'll study dribbling with Mitoma!

“The only surprise at half-time was that Liverpool were level — and it didn’t last. A minute after the restart, Brighton took the lead with the kind of high, tenacious press that Liverpool are so familiar with. Jordan Henderson was robbed by Mac Allister in midfield and Adam Lallana popped the ball quickly to Mitoma, whose stab to the back post found March, who poked in.

“The second goal owed much to Ferguson, who once had trials with Liverpool but saw a quicker route to the first team with Brighton. His was an understated but classy performance here. Ferguson found space, turned and began running at the Liverpool defence before supplying March, whose shot somehow squeezed through, past Andrew Robertson and Alisson, and into the far corner of the net.

“Klopp made four substitutions with 20 minutes left. There was no sense of Liverpool coming back, though, nor that Brighton were holding on — there were no nerves on the pitch and there was no anxiety in the stands.

“When Brighton added a third, it felt inevitable. Liverpool’s defending was all at sea as Lallana’s throw-in was flicked on by March, hooked over Joe Gomez by Welbeck and driven in. A simple goal to crown a comfortable victory.”

In the Sunday Telegraph, Jim White wrote that “This was as close as it comes to a Premier League stroll.

“Brighton won the game with two superbly worked goals from Solly March and an impudent third from the substitute Danny Welbeck. But it was the way they dominated all aspects of the game that will have so concerned Liverpool supporters; every Brighton player did their job better than anyone wearing red.


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Welbeck: It's great to be back!

“Take midfield. Compared to Brighton’s smart and progressive pairing of Moises Caicedo and the World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister, Liverpool’s middle looked leaden-footed and flaccid. While Mac Allister, who was granted a fine ovation before the kick off for his achievements in Qatar, was calm and composed in everything he did, Jordan Henderson appeared panicked and confused, obliged to retreat into agricultural hacking on Caicedo’s heels in a bid to stop their dominance. Alongside him, the wholly anonymous Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho were completely outshone by Adam Lallana, a player reckoned surplus to Liverpool ambition three years ago.

“And Liverpool’s backline was not much more convincing. The number of times they were undone by the simple Brighton tactic of sending Kaoru Mitoma in behind was ridiculous. Time and again a sharp through ball found the Japanese tearing towards goal, leaving the Liverpool defenders panting in his wash. Even the electric-heeled Trent Alexander Arnold struggled to contain him.

“Alongside Mitoma, the 18-year-old Evan Ferguson gave further demonstration that he might be yet another gem uncovered by the Brighton recruitment department. Certainly, Liverpool’s expensive new signing Cody Gakpo was nowhere near as influential. The Dutchman had three touches all afternoon; Ferguson’s replacement Welbeck had twice as many in his late 10-minute cameo. And one of those was to put the ball into the Liverpool net.”

Riath Al-Samarrai also focused on Albion’s dominance of midfield in the Mail on Sunday: “Roberto De Zerbi inherited a fine team from Graham Potter, built on it, and in this fifth win in seven delivered a masterclass in one-touch passing, in creative expression, and also in fine finishing, with two goals from Solly March and a third by Danny Welbeck. 


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Extended PL Highlights: Albion 3 Liverpool 0

“They encountered a team in a hole, yes. But the dumping of cement into the void has never looked so stylish. They were immense and from the first minute to last, they dominated.

“That maligned Liverpool midfield could neither make chances nor prevent them, given it was simultaneously outnumbered and outdone by what it faced. When De Zerbi's side are tuned in, they can do that to the best of them and for a prolonged while now Klopp's bunch haven't quite met such a description.

“At the heart of it were the quick switches and deliveries from Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister, the latter back in Brighton's starting XI following his enjoyable trip to the World Cup with Argentina. 

“Between them, that pair near enough smothered Jordan Henderson, Thiago and Fabinho and served as a regular spring of service to the wings, where March initially found success on the right against Andrew Robertson, before Mitoma extended his strong recent form by repeatedly getting the better of Trent Alexander Arnold. Twice in the first half Mitoma simply obliterated the England right-back for speed and guile.”

On the Express website, Ryan Taylor wrote that “this ever-improving Brighton side … continue to set the benchmark for the rest of the Premier League in their quest to gate-crash the Big Six. The relentless, eye-catching Seagulls - inspired by the unstoppable Kaoru Mitoma and two-goal Solly March - tore the depleted Reds to shreds as Liverpool's car-crash season plunged into new depths of despair. Brighton, who grabbed a deserved third to cap a statement attacking performance, were magnificent and in truth, would have dismantled almost any side that stood before them this afternoon as Roberto De Zerbi's spellbinding football once again left a lasting impression on the delighted home crowd as Jurgen Klopp could only watch on in horror.

By Paul Hazlewood
On the slide: Danny Welbeck takes the acclaim after making it 3-0 against Liverpool.

“The Seagulls ruthlessly penetrated the space in the Liverpool backline, first via Mitoma's ball across goal for Solly March and for a second time when the local winger burst through and hammered home in style.”

John Brewin also mentioned Solly’s career arc in The Observer: “It had been a mournful performance from Liverpool, one of submission to a team moving into a different gear under Roberto De Zerbi. That their first two goals came from Solly March, who joined Brighton when a League One outfit, served to remind of the distance the club has travelled.

“Moisés Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister, together in midfield for the first time since 13 November, were dominant. Both South Americans have been lately linked with moves to Liverpool, where Klopp had opted for the midfield old guard of Henderson, Thiago and Fabinho. A previous area of great strength has become one of serious concern.

“For Brighton, regeneration appears rather easier. Leandro Trossard’s teenage replacement, Evan Ferguson, a purebred striker rather than false No 9 and excellent here, is the latest demonstration that no individual is bigger than Brighton’s collective spirit.

“Brighton began with the vigour they maintained throughout, former Red Adam Lallana to the fore. His midfield overrun, unable to cut off the supply lines to the flanks, where Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson were being exposed, Brighton by far the better exponents of the pressing game that made his name, Klopp glowered. On Liverpool’s right side, Kaoru Mitoma’s acceleration caused repeated problems.

By Paul Hazlewood
Evan Ferguson at full stretch during another fine performance against Liverpool.

“That Liverpool entered the half-time tunnel level counted as victory in itself. No problem for Brighton, they began the second half as they ended the first but with an added cutting edge. Joël Matip’s pass was intercepted by Mac Allister before Mitoma was released to set up March.

“The second was not long in coming. Ferguson received the ball with his head up, and March ran on between Ibrahima Konaté and Matip to score, celebrating with the fans behind the goal.”

In the Sun on Sunday, Dan King – whose father-in-law, incidentally, is a West Stand season ticket holder – spotted an echo of a great England performance of the past in Albion’s third.

“Brighton leapfrogged Jurgen Klopp’s side in the Premier League table with this totally deserved win and look a much better bet for European football than the club that was in the Champions League final only last May,” he wrote. "De Zerbi’s side were superb from the start, continuing their exciting development under their new boss. The Seagulls have now comprehensively beaten the Blues and now the Reds, the last two English sides to be crowned champions of Europe.

“They played through or behind Jurgen Klopp’s team almost at will. And Welbeck produced the coup de grace. March flicked on a throw in, the Brighton striker ran past Ibrahima Konate, flicked the ball over Joe Gomez, and volleyed it past Alisson. The former Arsenal man looked like ex-Tottenham star Gazza at Euro 96.”

On the Sunday Mirror website, Freddie Keighley wrote that “what was concerning for Liverpool was the way they were outperformed in every department.

“The Reds were not only at sixes and sevens at the back; they were also run ragged in midfield and toothless in attack, where Levi Colwill nullified a front line containing Mohamed Salah and Cody Gakpo, who was making his Premier League debut.

“Liverpool never looked like forcing their way back into the match to set up a nervy finish and their calamitous defending was exposed yet again in the closing stages as Ibrahima Konate and Joe Gomez failed to deal with a bouncing ball and Danny Welbeck scored Brighton's third.

“The Reds' chances of Champions League qualification are slipping away from them at an alarming rate, while the Seagulls can begin to harbour serious hopes of finishing in the European spots.”