Jurgen Klopp admitted Liverpool are low on confidence after Leandro Trossard’s hat-trick earned Brighton a 3-3 draw at Anfield on Saturday.
Liverpool have won only won two of their first seven league games of the season to already fall 11 points behind leaders Arsenal, who they face at the Emirates next weekend.
Klopp’s men were starring down the barrel of a first league defeat in front of fans at Anfield since 2017 when the Belgian scored twice inside the first 17 minutes.
The Reds looked to have turned the game around when Roberto Firmino struck twice either side of half-time before Adam Webster’s own goal put the home side in front.
But in Roberto De Zerbi’s first game as Brighton boss, the Seagulls got the reward their performance deserved when Trossard fired in at the back post seven minutes from time.
“The confidence level is not extraordinarily high,” said Klopp, whose side are suffering a hangover after narrowly missing out on winning a quadruple of trophies last season.
“We should defend all three goals better. We have to fight through this, the boys can play much better.
“My job is to create a situation where we can play much better.”
A point leaves Liverpool down in ninth, while Brighton remain in fourth.
De Zerbi’s debut after succeeding new Chelsea boss Graham Potter lived up to the hype as the Italian’s brand of intricate passing out from the back cut Liverpool to shreds in the early stages.
“Potter deserves some credit because he has left to me a great team,” said De Zerbi.
“I have tried to not make any damage and add my idea on top.”
Klopp spoke out at length in defence of Trent Alexander-Arnold after he was overlooked by England manager Gareth Southgate during the international break.
But critics of Alexander-Arnold’s defending were given more ammunition after just four minutes when he was turned by Trossard and the Belgian fired into the far corner.
A nightmare opening 20 minutes for the hosts could have been much worse but for two big saves from Alisson Becker.
Danny Welbeck placed his header from close range too close to the Brazilian, who then produced a brilliant stop as he flew off his line to deny Trossard.
‘Horrible’ viewing for Klopp
However, Liverpool were not so lucky when they passed up a third big chance after the opener as Brighton again worked an opening down the side of Alexander-Arnold and Trossard’s strike had too much power for Alisson.
“It was horrible to watch how many times their offensive players could turn between the lines,” added Klopp.
“Usually we adapt quicker. Before we adapted, we were 2-0 down.”
Klopp summoned Virgil van Dijk to the touchline after the second goal in a bid to restore some order and the Reds did get a foothold before the break.
Firmino’s fourth goal of the season was initially ruled out for offside as he dinked into an unguarded net after Mohamed Salah knocked the ball past Robert Sanchez.
A VAR review came to Liverpool’s rescue, though, to halve the arrears.
Klopp had surprisingly left Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota and Darwin Nunez on the bench from the start, but Diaz replaced Fabio Carvalho at the start of the second half.
The Colombian made a quick impact as he charged at the Brighton defence and laid the ball across for Firmino, who cut inside Lewis Dunk and coolly found the far corner.
Brighton orchestrated their own downfall for Liverpool’s third as Sanchez punched the ball into his own net off the unfortunate Webster.
But true to De Zerbi’s reputation as an attack-minded coach, the visitors never stopped piling men forward and finally took one of their chances when Trossard turned home Kaoru Mitoma’s cross.
Chelsea boss Potter seals first win
Graham Potter earned his first win as Chelsea manager after Conor Gallagher returned to haunt Crystal Palace with the decisive goal in a 2-1 victory at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
Potter was taking charge of Chelsea for just the second time since replacing the sacked Thomas Tuchel in September.
The former Brighton boss had overseen a 1-1 draw with RB Salzburg in the Champions League and was seconds away from another frustrating result until England midfielder Gallagher rode to the rescue.
Odsonne Edouard had put Palace ahead early on before former Barcelona forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang equalised with his first goal for Chelsea late in the first half.
That set the stage for Gallagher to come off the bench and win it for Chelsea deep into stoppage-time, in the process breaking the hearts of the team he played for on loan for the whole of last season.
“It’s a very special moment to come on and get the winner. It was written in the stars. Everyone knows how much I loved it at Palace but I’m just buzzing to get my first goal,” Gallagher said of his maiden strike for Chelsea.
Relieved to get off the mark after a tricky test in south London, Potter said: “We’re delighted with the result. It’s a tough place to come. I thought we started quite well but conceded from the first action into the box.
“Credit to the boys, they recovered well and did not let their heads go down. It was nice to get an equaliser and get back in the game.
“There’s character, that’s for sure. They could’ve felt sorry for themselves after conceding the goal but the players stood up all the way through.
“There was a collective spirit among the players. We are delighted with the three points.”
Edouard met Jordan Ayew’s seventh-minute cross and lifted the ball past Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga into the top corner.
Raheem Sterling was inches away from a quick equaliser when the Chelsea forward pounced on his own rebound and watched his second effort hit the post.
Palace were furious when Ayew looked through on goal, only to be stopped in his tracks by Thiago Silva, with the Chelsea defender escaping with just a booking.
Silva’s presence on the pitch proved vital moments later when Reece James found the Brazilian at the edge of the area and he nodded the pass in the direction of Aubameyang, who spun and fired past Vicente Guaita.
Palace nearly went back in front after half-time when Michael Olise battled his marker before picking out Wilfried Zaha, who could not beat Kepa with a powerful strike.
Gallagher was warmly received by Palace fans when he stepped on the pitch in the 76th minute.
But those friendly sentiments were quickly forgotten when he curled in the decider to spark jubilant celebrations among Potter and his backroom staff.