Liverpool analysis – Yves Bissouma transfer intrigue emerges as Sadio Mane responds to Manchester United drop – Liverpool Echo

Bissouma prompts transfer intrigue

Liverpool went a day early with the Halloween horror.

And, not for the first time this season, it was the performance of the midfield prompting the greatest howls of anguish.

Sure, losing Naby Keita so early would have compromised the game plan against a Brighton side renowned, as Jurgen Klopp later pointed out, for their ability to ghost in between the lines.

But it couldn’t explain the poor individual displays, with Jordan Henderson regularly pulled out of position, Curtis Jones’s youthful exuberance unable to mask deficiencies and substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, after a first Premier League assist since last December, swiftly regressing.

READ MORE: Klopp gives Naby Keita injury update after Brighton as Liverpool fear crisis

RATINGS: Liverpool player ratings as Alisson superb but five poor against Brighton

Brighton’s Yves Bissouma – among many midfielders Liverpool monitored during the transfer window – too often overpowered the home side with his direct running, combative nature and energy, made all the more impressive given this was a first start in more than a month.

While possible food for thought next summer, the immediate concern for Klopp is how to remedy matters with so few options available.

Fabinho cannot return soon enough, his steadying defensive qualities sorely missed as Liverpool lost control in the engine room to leave their back line routinely exposed.

And Thiago Alcantara, who could be back in midweek, is another whose composure and positional discipline will be of benefit.

Midfield has always been the key element to any Klopp side. And, for a number of reasons, it just isn’t working right now.

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Mane makes mark

The beaming smile of Sadio Mane after scoring has become a welcome and frequent sight during his time at Liverpool.

But there was a different reaction from the Senegalese when he powered home a header for the Reds’ second goal in front of the Kop, a seeming sense of anger and frustration mixed with relief as he celebrated vigorously.

Small wonder. Mane would undoubtedly have been irked at being left on the bench until after Liverpool had rattled in their five goals in that astonishing Old Trafford triumph last weekend.

Not that he hasn’t been delivering where it matters, his latest strike a seventh in 13 outings this season.

But there appeared an extra hunger to his game against Brighton, both in his willingness to track back and his continued harassing of the visiting backline.

That appeared to pay dividends when Mane charged down dithering Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez’s clearance to put Liverpool 3-0 up, only for VAR to rightly disallow the goal after the ball went in off the forward’s arm.

Rather than ending the contest, it ultimately proved a turning point with the visitors reducing the arrears shortly afterwards to spark their successful comeback.

Mane, though, will hope his display is a reminder he should still be featuring in the biggest games.

Anfield worry for Klopp

This wasn’t the homecoming Liverpool supporters had anticipated.

After four successive away games – and with seven of the last eight being on the road – the Reds’ return to Anfield instead served to underline an issue of which Klopp and his coaching staff will be acutely aware.

This is a Liverpool team seemingly more devastatingly destructive when on their travels.

READ MORE: Liverpool fans make Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho point after Brighton draw

Only once in nine away games have the Reds not won, and six of their victories have been by three goals or more.

Compare that to an Anfield record that has seen Liverpool now held in half of their six matches.

Yes, two were against their main title rivals. But they were outplayed by Manchester City for the majority of their match and couldn’t break down a 10-man Chelsea when victory was beckoning second half.

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Throw in a narrow squeak against AC Milan, and the problems of last season, even with the return of supporters, haven’t yet been fully eradicated.

And with this disappointing draw the first of five home games in six, it’s an issue Liverpool cannot allow to linger.

Securing Champions League progress with a win against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday seems the ideal place to start addressing the matter.