After Manchester City and Bournemouth were both held earlier on Saturday, the Reds took their chance to take top spot on the Premier League table – at least until Watford, Spurs and Chelsea are in action later in the weekend – by defeating Brighton 1-0 at Anfield.
The Seagulls arrived full of confidence after their victory over Manchester United last weekend and will count themselves unlucky to go away empty handed.
Here are our player ratings for Liverpool:
Alisson – 7: Almost caught out twice playing the ball in his own area – needs to learn he will have less time in the Premier League, two strong punches to turn defence into attack, great save on 88 minutes
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6: Early free kick which he smashed against the bar, worked hard down the right and tracked back well, won’t be pleased with some sloppy distribution and a missed late chance, replaced on 88 minutes by Matip.
Joe Gomez – 7: Had to be on guard to deal with the runs of Glenn Murray, nice move with Salah to put a header on target but directed it straight at Ryan, some questionable moments especially around the Brighton corner chance
Liverpool have kept seven consecutive clean sheets at home in the Premier League for the first time since the 2006/07 season (9 games).— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 25, 2018
Virgil van Dijk has played every single minute. pic.twitter.com/hV0fIw8wVR
Virgil van Dijk – 7: Very little to do defensively in first half, so took the opportunity to bomb forward, caught flat footed in second half and poor clearance led to corner where Brighton almost equalised, also mis-judged cross from which Gross almost got the equaliser, some cracks in the previously perfect armour
Andrew Robertson – 8: Superb cross to Firmino early on, and kept them coming during the match, great tussle with opposite number Martin Montoya , great run near the end almost set up the clincher
James Milner – 7: Superb tackle on Yves Bissouma to set-up Salah’s opening goal, usual rugged defence and excellent distribution to the wide men, gave away free kick in dangerous position.
Gini Wijnaldum – 8: Sat in the defensive midfield role with Milner and Keita in more forward roles, still got forward well with one shot stinging Ryan’s palms, some classy touches and worked hard right to the end
Naby Keita – 6: Nimble feet won a free kick on 13 minutes which TAA blasted against the bar, lifted his work rate in the middle of the park when Brighton were pushing hard for an equaliser early in the second half, subbed by Henderson on 66 minutes
Sadio Mane – 5: Strangely off kilter showing from previously in-form finisher, missed an early chance set up by Salah and some loose passing in the first half gave the ball away, missed another header on 34 minutes, quiet second half saw him subbed for Sturridge on 79 minutes
Roberto Firmino – 7: Looked like he is coming back to his best with some sharp touches, great header on nine minutes saved brilliantly by Mat Ryan, lovely assist for Salah’s opener
Mohamed Salah – 7: Double teamed all day, cut back to set up Mane superbly in just fourth minute, deadly finish with his first chance on 23 minutes, will be disappointed he didn’t do better with some other opportunities
Jordan Henderson – 7: On for Keita on 66 minutes, steadying influence in the middle of the park, full of running, closed down well
Daniel Sturridge – 7: On for Mane on 79 minutes, some great touches and held up play nicely at the end,
Joel Matip – NA: On for TAA in 88th minute, present for one corner, first appearance since March
Overall – 6: Not Liverpool’s best but these were the sort of matches that the Reds were drawing last season, rode their luck to secure three points even when they perhaps did not deserve it, wins like this are the difference between competing for the Premier League or not
Liverpool may be top of the league with a 100 per cent record having not yet conceded a goal but manager Jurgen Klopp insists they are still a long way from being the finished article.
Mohamed Salah‘s 29th goal in 29 appearances at Anfield secured a 1-0 win over Brighton in a game when the Reds failed to reach the levels which is now expected of them.
However, they ensured they capitalised on Manchester City’s draw at Wolves earlier in the day to go top of the table for the first time since November 2016.
“Nine points after three games, I never heard anything negative about that. We didn’t concede a goal, nothing negative about that,” said Klopp.
“If you watched the games – we knew before the game but now a few more people know – we have a lot more to do.
“First half was a good mindset, really patient in the right moment, and we scored the goal and could’ve score more and I don’t think they had a chance in the first half.
Mohamed Salah equalled two 2018/19 single-game records vs. Brighton:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 25, 2018
• Most touches in opp. box (12)
• Most chances created (6)
Danger man. pic.twitter.com/PRVtNYd8g6
“Then there was half-time and we didn’t do exactly the same, the boys changed a little bit and it was not the best idea.
“We didn’t show the same patience and it was a more open game and there was absolutely no need for that. The last 10 minutes they (Brighton) had their moments as we started passing through an area where they was no space.
“They had their chances and Alisson had to make a big save; nice, good for us.
“We won the game very deservedly. One-nil is not a result we’ve had very often since I was in but I am very happy because it was the best we could get today.”
While Alisson Becker was becoming only the third Liverpool goalkeeper in 51 years to keep a clean sheet in the opening three league matches of the season the man he replaced, Loris Karius was joining Besiktas on a two-year loan.
The Turkish club will pay a £2.2million fee now and are obligated to buy him for a further £7.25million in 2020 if appearance and European qualification criteria are met.
“We said goodbye yesterday, He is really looking forward to it, it is good for him and I really think Loris is a fantastic goalkeeper at a very good age,” added Klopp. “A lot of people spoke about our improved defensive things and as good as Alisson was in the last three games we were good when he was not here and Loris did a lot of good things.
“Besiktas have a good team who have a good chance to win the league and they now have a really good goalkeeper and I am really happy for him.”
The German is on the verge of a two-year, £2.2million temporary deal with the Turkish club, who are obligated to buy him for a further £7.25million in 2020 if appearance and European qualification criteria are met.
Karius, who made two errors in May’s Champions League final defeat, has been replaced by Alisson Becker – who has kept clean sheets in his first two matches.
“It’s a normal thing in football. It happens to managers: as a manager you usually don’t need that much time between one game and another to get the sack!” said Klopp.
“It is not the sack, it is only change. That’s football, no problem with that.”
Alisson’s impact has been instantaneous and he could become only the fourth goalkeeper in the last 51 seasons after Bruce Grobbelaar, Pepe Reina and the man who will be his deputy against Brighton on Saturday – Simon Mignolet – to keep clean sheets in the first three matches of a league campaign. The Belgian has managed the feat twice.
How much of those two clean sheets has been down to Alisson and how much is as a result of the quality of opponents West Ham and Crystal Palace is open to debate.
However, the Brazil international has brought a new dimension to Liverpool’s game with his goalkeeping skills – which have not been fully tested yet – and his distribution.
“Good player, very good player and not only a goalkeeper but a player as well so that’s quite cool,” said Klopp of the man who commanded at the time a £65million world-record fee for a goalkeeper when he arrived this summer.
“He gives us a few more (offensive) opportunities so that’s cool as well, I like that.”
Not all the improvement can be laid as Alisson’s feet, however, as since their 4-1 October defeat to Tottenham last season Liverpool have the Premier League’s best defensive record.
Klopp was keen to stress that was due to the way the team is now operating.
“You (the media) tell me when we concede goals it is our defence and you talk a lot about the centre-halves or the goalkeeper being responsible – defending is always a team thing,” said the Reds boss.
“We did well not only this season, since a longer period already we defended well.
“We are an offensive-orientated team based on the best possible organisation and that means organisation is important in offensive and defensive things. It is something we are constantly working on.
“Every game we go in it is probably 60 or 70 per cent we talk about our defence and what we can do to create stability, you need to do a few offensive things.
“We improved in that step-by-step but it needs to stay like this. This season twice (we have had) a clean sheet but at the end of the season if we only have two clean sheets no one is happy about that.”
At the other end of the pitch Sadio Mane, the man overshadowed by Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino’s goalscoring feats last season, is setting the standards this time around.
The Senegal international, who is still in talks over a new contract at the club, is the Premier League’s top scorer with three goals – alongside Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Everton’s Richarlison.
Klopp added: “We knew we would get a good player when we signed him from Southampton. Did we exactly know how good? I wouldn’t say so.”