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Liverpool weren’t at their best against Brighton on Saturday, but they came away with three points all the same.

Liverpool’s win against Brighton on Saturday wasn’t pretty. Their only goal came from a penalty. Mohamed Salah barely touched the ball until the second half. Trent Alexander-Arnold may or may not have been playing injured. For a long time it seemed like the main takeaway would be that Jordan Henderson is fond of playing first-time passes to his center-backs. It was, in other words, not so dissimilar to most of the Reds’ season so far.

There were two basic readings of the first three and a half months of Liverpool’s 2018-19: Either they were grinding out wins at an unsustainable rate based on the quality of their performances, and would soon start dropping points, or they were winning despite not playing particularly well, and would soon start cruising, rather than fighting, through games. The smart money seemed to be on the former.

Then came December, when they won all seven of their league games by a combined score of 21-3. They failed to score multiple goals only once, against Everton (when their xG was 3.08), and scored three or more goals five times. Add in three losses for Manchester City (praise be to Andros Townsend), and an eight-point swing in the table, and

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