After the Reds 2-2 home draw with Wolves in the FA Cup, it means they now face a replay at the Molineux Stadium next Tuesday evening. That game will be quickly followed by a visit from Chelsea, in what could prove a defining encounter in the race for top four. Before all that potential heartbreak presents itself, Jurgen Klopp must take his side to the south coast, where the mightily impressive Brighton await this coming Saturday.
Brighton’s last outing saw them dismantle Middlesborough 5-1, to become the next FA Cup challenge for the Reds, if they successfully overcome Wolves of course. That away victory came hot on the heels of another superb away victory, as the ultra-efficient side took their turn in embarrassing Everton. That 4-1 win saw them rise to 8th in the Premier League, with 27 points from 17 games played. The game prior to the Goodson mauling saw them lose 4-2 to table toppers Arsenal, who they more than took the game to. It is fair to say that the new manager, Roberto De Zerbi, has managed to continue the good work of his predecessor, Graham Potter, and will be confident of a good result this weekend.
On the availability front, the Seagull’s will be without Jakub Moder and Enock Mwepu, whilst facing a late fitness test for Leandro Trossard. In terms of the probable starting line-up, Robert Sánchez should start behind a back four of Pervis Estupiñán, Joël Veltman, Lewis Dunk and Chelsea loanee, Levi Colwill. Ahead of that group should be a double pivot comprising the current Liverpool target, Moisés Caicedo, and Pascal Groß. Alexis MacAllister could be deployed just ahead of these two, in order to add further solidity to the midfield. The wide men will probably see Solly March and Kaoru Mitoma start once more, with teenager Evan Ferguson perhaps keeping a starting berth, unless Trossard can prove his fitness.
Liverpool come into this game with an air of uncertainty surrounding their likely form. The injuries are making decisions straightforward for the German right now, with Virgil van Dijk, Arthur Melo, James Milner, Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino all out injured. The team that started against Wolves at weekend should be similar to that which starts this Saturday, however the general form of some could see the odd surprise from our German manager.
Alisson Becker will start in goal, with both Ibrahima Konaté and Joel Matip also likely to be retained ahead of Joe Gomez at centre back. Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander Arnold are certainties for this game, but further ahead could bring a surprise. The midfield will surely see Fabinho starting, with Naby Keita looking to make a first start of the season ahead of the out of form skipper, Jordan Henderson. This game should see Thiago start again, with his role in the middle of park now vital to any sort of rhythm. Up front will see the same three forwards rolled out, as Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez, and Cody Gakpo hoping to form an attacking relationship.
Momentum could be the difference here, with Brighton coming into this matchup in a rich vein of scoring form. They have adjusted their previous system to suit the manager’s preferred 4-2-3-1, which could see the home side able to control and match their wealthy visitors. The Reds will be looking to outgun and hold on for dear life, with three points the only thing that really matters this weekend. Liverpool’s ongoing trend of conceding first will be tested to the full at the American Express Community Stadium, so a fast and productive start is needed.
At some point Liverpool will inevitably fall into some type of form, with a forceful attack now primed to test opposing defences. Brighton is the epitome of over-performance, so will look to dominate the middle ground where Liverpool have been exploited most. With so much riding on it, I feel an away win could be achieved after a hard-fought battle.
Player to watch – Darwin Nunez
Brighton 2 – 3 Liverpool