Liverpool analysis – Michael Edwards record in balance as Reds worst fears realised – Liverpool Echo

So this is football in 2020 then.

Three injuries to exhausted players forcing managers into changes they’d rather not have to make with a limited use of three.

VAR – and its controversial nuances – stepping in to render the actual football as a mere after-thought in the post-match chatter yet again.

And all played in front of precisely zero supporters, giving a soulless feel to a game now only endured in front of a television screen.

If ever a match encapsulated the truly bizarre nature of how the planet’s most popular sport is packaged and delivered now, it was this.

That last point, of course, is about to be eased somewhat by the welcome return of supporters, but it is not much of a stretch to say the very fabric of the game is being torn as long as it stays in this format.

At least for the neutrals, who watch on with artificial crowd noise piped into their living rooms, some form of drama remains in place, even if it is not for the purists.

The tedious and tiresome debate of VAR should not be the game’s headline story here, though.

What should be the main takeaway, from a Liverpool perspective, is how Klopp‘s worst fears were realised deep in the bowels of the Amex.

This time, it was James Milner who hobbled off in the second half, adding another to an injured list that has become almost laughably big.

When even a teak-tough operator like Milner succumbs, then you know something is amiss.

Klopp has continued to rail against the scheduling, highlighting at every turn what he and other managers in the Premier League view as an unsafe working rota of consecutive Wednesday evening and Saturday lunchtime fixtures.

Anyone who has paid even a passing glance at Liverpool’s direction this season will know how strongly Klopp feels on the topic and his post-match exchange with BT Sport’s Des Kelly was fascinating.

So losing another player to injury in Milner has only darkened an increasingly exasperated mood of the Liverpool manager.

Whoever is responsible for the fixture list, something needs to be adjusted. They are robbing the sport of its leading men.

Brighton boss Graham Potter, who lost Adam Lallana and Neil Maupay to similar problems here, will no doubt agree.

Wherever you stand VAR’s micro-management of football games, there can be few that think football’s calendar is in perfect working order.

Something needs to give, because right now, it is only the players’ calves, groins and hamstrings.

Chance missed for Minamino

With Jurgen Klopp opting to shuffle his pack for this one, Takumi Minamino was one of six changes at the Amex.

Coming in for his first Premier League start of the campaign, it was a real opportunity for the Japan international to show what he can do.

It’s not been plain sailing for Minamino following his switch from Red Bull Salzburg at the turn of the year, but he is nearing his 12-month anniversary as a Liverpool player.

His performances, however, continue to indicate that he is very much still finding his feet in English football.

If Michael Edwards has a virtually flawless record in the transfer market during his four years as sporting director, the jury remains very much out on Minamino.

The £7million fee will never be labelled as a waste of money, however Minamino’s stay at Anfield pans out, but at a time when Diogo Jota has started his career in electrifying form, the Japan forward’s difficulties look more acute.

Here he spent much of his afternoon being out-muscled, out-fought and out-paced. His particular brand of invention did little to help on the chilly south coast.

Given the options at Klopp’s disposal, Minamino will be afforded the room to adapt and adjust, but this was a rare chance that went begging.

Jot it down

Not even during Liverpool’s exhaustively studious tracking of Diogo Jota could they have hoped for this.

The Portuguese had already hit the ground running at the pace of an Olympic sprinter before he was unleashed on Brighton here.

Little appeared to be happening for Klopp’s side when the man-of-the-moment picked up the ball in the second half.

Seemingly out of nowhere Jota weaved a pattern inside the Brighton area before firing it past Mat Ryan to give Liverpool a lead they probably didn’t deserve.

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah

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It was the former Wolves man’s ninth goal in 14 appearances for his new club, marking him out as one of the undoubted signings of the season.

Where would Liverpool be without the contributions of their £45million man this term?

Not only are his goals coming in waves, they are all big moments that have tipped the scales of finely balanced matches.

Sadly for Klopp, Jota’s latest was only worth a share of the spoils, but Edwards and the recruitment team can confidently declare that this is another major signing they have called to perfection.