Manager Jurgen Klopp said he still has “a lot of work to do” after Liverpool’s hard-fought 1-0 victory over Brighton sent them top of the Premier League.
Mohamed Salah, who scored 32 league goals last season, scored with a clinical strike midway through the first half at Anfield.
“Nobody doubts we deserved the three points and that’s the important thing,” said Klopp.
Liverpool, the only Premier League side with a 100% record after three games, are two points clear of champions Manchester City, who drew 1-1 with Wolves earlier on Saturday.
Klopp added: “[Manchester City boss] Pep Guardiola said this week the players are still not 100% fit and that’s how it is.
“You cannot given them no summer break, a very short pre-season and then say be at your best. These games are the best sessions we have to get fit.
“I knew before the game I had a lot of work to do and maybe now you know it as well.”
Liverpool were not at their fluid best, with their most dangerous moments coming before Salah struck.
After Sadio Mane poked a shot just wide, Roberto Firmino drew a smart save out of Mat Ryan with a downward header before Trent Alexander-Arnold hit the bar with a free-kick.
Brighton claimed a stunning 3-2 win against Manchester United in their previous game but rarely threatened to follow that up with an upset at Anfield.
They did, however, give the hosts some nervous moments in the closing stages and were denied a point when Alisson saved superbly from Pascal Gross’ header.
“I’m really not interested in the table. It’s really not important after the third matchday. Nine points are important,” said Klopp.
“I expect a lot from the boys. I’m pretty demanding but I know we can improve.”
Salah picking up from where he left off?
This was not Salah’s best game – he overhit a couple of passes and sent at least two shots into the upper tiers of the stand – but he was still able to provide the one moment of quality to decide a generally forgettable encounter.
Receiving the ball inside the area from fellow forward Mane, Salah looked up before superbly steering a left-footed shot just out of reach of Ryan and just inside the far post.
It was his 29th goal in 29 games at Anfield and the 45th Premier League goal he has been directly involved in (34 goals and 11 assists) since the start of the last season – 12 more than any other player.
He has two goals after three league games this season – the same as he had at this stage of his debut campaign with Liverpool last term.
Brighton beaten but not without a fight
Although this was Brighton’s second defeat in three games, their fans are unlikely to be discouraged by what they have seen from their team this season.
Their win against United was no fluke as they got in the faces of their opponents – showing no fear – and they displayed the same attitude at Liverpool.
Attacking opportunities were limited as they focused on nullifying a Liverpool side that scored six goals in their first two games – and in that respect they largely succeeded.
In May, Brighton were thumped 4-0 by Liverpool in the final game of the season, but only Alisson’s late save denied them a point.
The Seagulls appear to have come a long way in a short space of time and, if they continue to play in the style they have in their past two games, they have a strong chance of securing Premier League survival once again.
“It’s a performance to be proud of but we’re disappointed as well,” said boss Chris Hughton. “With the form Liverpool are in, you don’t get too many opportunities to get something out of the game.
“You know they are going to have chances but we had chances as well. We finished strong and we won’t have many better opportunities.”
Man of the match – James Milner
Consistency key for Liverpool – the stats
- Liverpool have won their past six matches against Brighton in all competitions, scoring 21 goals and conceding five.
- Of the 17 teams to play in the Premier League last season and this season, Brighton have won the fewest points in away games (11).
- Liverpool have kept 11 clean sheets in the Premier League in 18 games since Virgil van Dijk’s debut in January 2018, more than any other side in that period.
- Liverpool named the same starting XI in three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since May 2017.
- Under Jurgen Klopp, Roberto Firmino has had a hand in 59 Premier League goals (36 goals, 23 assists), 14 more than any other Liverpool player.
- Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum completed 75 of his 76 passes in the game (98.7% accuracy), with his one misplaced pass coming in the 80th minute.