Brighton & Hove Albion continued their blistering start to the 2022/23 season by putting on a sensational performance away to Liverpool on Saturday.
Despite Jurgen Klopp’s men being practically unbeatable at Anfield in the league when fans are in attendance, the Seagulls might well feel as though they should have taken all three points from their trip this weekend.
After all, Roberto De Zerbi well and truly picked up from where Graham Potter had left off when he watched his new side race into a stunning 2-0 lead courtesy of a Leandro Trossard brace.
Liverpool 3-3 Brighton & Hove Albion
The tricky Belgian took no prisoners with a ruthless pair of finishes and fans were quick to point out how his first goal, in particular, perpetuated the narrative surrounding Trent Alexander-Arnold at the moment.
Liverpool‘s star right-back hardly covered himself in glory when his weak headed clearance sparked a chain reaction that led to him watching Trossard fire past Alisson Becker while he was on all fours.
But more on that in a second because the Reds did indeed mount a comeback with Roberto Firmino’s brace and Adam Webster’s own goal flipping the game on its head between the 33rd and 63rd minute.
However, not only did Trossard pull back a deserved point for the visitors by completing his hat-trick late on, but Alexander-Arnold’s misery was once again compounded from a defensive point of view.
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Mitoma turns on the style vs Liverpool
That’s because Kaoru Mitoma, who was introduced in place of Pascal Gross in the 65th minute, burned him with one of the finest and slickest moments of dribbling in the game.
As Liverpool looked to hold onto their newly-found 3-2 advantage, the Japan international turned on the style to leave Alexander-Arnold on his knees before breezing past Mohamed Salah like he wasn’t even there.
While there might not have been any jaw-dropping skills straight out of the Ronaldinho playbook, it was nevertheless a damning illustration of just how easily Liverpool can be carved open right now.
After all, Mitoma went from being isolated on the left flank to putting in a dangerous cross around the six-yard box that Fabinho struggled to get clear within the blink of an eye – check it out below:
Video: Mitoma loses Alexander-Arnold and Salah with slick dribbling
bandz a make her dance pic.twitter.com/1F9wNwxTGk— Lyés (@LyesBouzidi10) October 1, 2022
Mitoma is just killing Trent. pic.twitter.com/WvmPOiToYz— 𝙎𝙖𝙢 🔎 (@utdsvm) October 1, 2022
mitoma you have rocked my world pic.twitter.com/rBX8hnKNdk— H (@hbhostel) October 1, 2022
Very tasty footwork and a masterclass in how to tie up two of Liverpool’s finest players.
The wider Alexander-Arnold narrative
Now, look, the Alexander-Arnold narrative has dragged on too much at times and no doubt some of the attention that Mitoma’s dribble has attracted online is because the England right-back is under pressure right now.
And it was by no means a poor display from the 23-year-old as he was ranked by SofaScore statistics as the best performer out of Liverpool’s back four with a match rating of 6.9/10.
Nevertheless, it is in moments like Mitoma sending him to his knees that you do see why there are legitimate concerns about Alexander-Arnold’s defensive competency.
Is he still better going backwards than 99% of full-backs in the men’s game? Of course he is, Alexander-Arnold is the world’s best right-back on his day, but it’s still okay to think that his defensive capabilities pale in comparison to his evidently outrageous output going forward.
Yet another talent for Brighton?
But in many ways, that’s besides the point anyway, because the real takeaway from Mitoma turning on the style at Anfield is that Brighton have yet another exciting talent on their hands.
There’s good reason to think that the Seagulls are the most progressive club in the entire division with De Zerbi inheriting the baton from Potter as a similarly forward-thinking and innovative coach.
And with Mitoma shining in his first outing under the Italian, don’t be surprised if it comes to pass that Brighton – once again – have produced the latest in a long line of inspired signings.