LIVERPOOL manager Jurgen Klopp refused to cover up his side’s defensive flaws after a chaotic 3-3 draw against Brighton at Anfield.
Leandro Trossard’s hat-trick earned Brighton a deserved point, with Liverpool in danger of losing a 26-game unbeaten home record as they went 2-0 down in the opening 17 minutes.
Trossard gave new Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi a dream start by scoring twice inside the first 17 minutes against some ragged defending, only for Roberto Firmino’s double either side of half-time and Adam Webster’s own goal to turn things around for the hosts.
But Trossard was not to be denied his moment in the spotlight as he became only the third opposition player to score a treble at Anfield in the Premier League, following Coventry’s Peter Ndlovu (1995) and Arsenal’s Andrey Arshavin (2009) into the history books with an 83rd-minute strike.
The point leaves Liverpool a massive 11 points behind Arsenal ahead of their clash with the Gunners at Emirates Stadium next Sunday and Klopp accepted their defensive flaws need to be resolved quickly.
“We could have defended much better and 3-3 is probably a fair result,” stated an honest Klopp.
“On a day like this when it starts like this, it’s important to fight your way through. It would be nice if you could win it.
“We always have problems against Brighton who are a very good football team but we have to do better.
“This game has different stories. There is the story of how we conceded two early goals, there is the story of how we came back in the game, then there is the story of how we threw it away.
“With all the good things we did during the week the confidence is a little flower and when someone stamps on it, it is really difficult. We have to accept it. Of course it is not enough for us but it is what we got.
“I spoke to the boys in a similar way to how I speak to you. I don’t know how many times I have to say we need a reaction.
“The first goal has an impact on both teams. They were flying and we were somewhere in between. They used that for the second goal.
“I know we have 10 points and that’s the reality. I don’t hide from that. We have to go together and build.”
Trent Alexander-Arnold was given a torrid afternoon as Brighton targeted the Liverpool full-back from the off, with his full-back partner Kostas Tsimikas also enduring a tough day.
Such were Liverpool’s defensive woes that Brighton could have inflicted a heavy defeat on Klopp’s men if they had taken their chances, with new boss De Zerbi pleased with his side’s display.
“A crazy game,” declared Graham Potter’s replacement as Seagulls boss.
“I am happy and proud for my players and my club. There was a possibility to win the game but Liverpool is a fantastic team. I knew before the game it could be difficult and it was very difficult.
“Of course the point for us is really important because Liverpool at the end of the day is Liverpool but we had a lot of chances to score the goals and if we had won the game I wouldn’t have felt like we had stolen anything here.
“In that moment I didn’t think we had to win the game. It is 90 minutes plus additional time at Anfield.
“It is really hard to control the game in the Premier League – only Manchester City is doing that. Our target is to start to control much more of the game.”
Brighton’s qualities were there for all to see at Anfield and their class contributed to Liverpool’s defensive problems.
Yet Alexander-Arnold and Tsimikas may well have had a sleepless night after they were run ragged by Brighton’s dynamic attacking players.
Alexander-Arnold went close to ending his misery as his late free-kick required a save from Brighton keeper Robert Sanchez.
A late Liverpool winner would only have covered up Liverpool’s problems and with back-to-back games against Arsenal and Manchester City next on their Premier League horizon, the alarm bells have to be ringing for Klopp.
Belief is a commodity that can only be built over time and on this evidence, Liverpool are not ready to take on the best teams in English football.
This may not be described a crisis for Klopp and Liverpool yet, it may well be by the middle of October.