After the Reds’ 3-0 loss away to Brighton two weeks ago, it’s fair to say that this FA Cup match up could be viewed in a couple of different ways. On one hand, it’s a chance for Liverpool to exorcise some of the demons created. On the more realistic hand, it’s perhaps another game where a far more structured team will be able to exploit Liverpool’s ever present deficiencies.
Brighton’s last outing saw them draw 2-2, away to Leicester, which came a week after they entertained Jürgen Klopp’s men. Their FA Cup 3rd round victory came against Middlesbrough, as they swept them away 1-5 at the Riverside Stadium. Under the management of former boss Graham Potter, the Seagulls were a well drilled team that continually exceeded expectations. Under their new head coach, Roberto De Zerbi, a more robust and cut throat system has excelled very quickly. Albion have become a team that are able to control key periods of possession, with a real intent to score freely. When welcoming their forthcoming opponents earlier in the month, they were able to control every facet of the game and will surely be looking for a repeat performance.
On the availability front, the Seagulls will be without Jakub Moder, Enock Mwepu, Levi Colwill, and Adam Lallana. In terms of the probable starting line-up, Robert Sánchez should start behind a back four of Pervis Estupiñán, Pascal Groß, Lewis Dunk and Jan Paul van Hecke. Ahead of that group should see a double pivot comprising the current Liverpool target, Moisés Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister. The wide men will probably see Solly March and Kaoru Mitoma start once more, with teenager Evan Ferguson recalled to lead the line. With Lallana injured, it could mean a slight shift in system, in order to accommodate either Danny Welbeck or Tariq Lamptey.
Liverpool come into this game with a slightly more structured looking side, with a key eye on stopping oncoming attacks. Two back to back clean sheets came with their 0-0 home draw with Chelsea, after their 0-1 win at Wolves, in the previous round. On the injury front, Virgil van Dijk, Arthur Melo, Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota, and Roberto Firmino are still out injured. The team that started against Chelsea at the weekend should be similar to that which starts this Saturday, however inevitably we will see a couple of changes.
Alisson Becker will start in goal, with both Ibrahima Konaté and Joel Joe Gomez also likely to be retained ahead of Joël Matip, at centre back. Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander Arnold should be the starting fullbacks, with James Milner dropping out after Trent’s full recovery from injury. The midfield will see Thiago starting, with Naby Keita looking to make a third straight start. This game should see Stefan Bajčetić start again, with his role in the defensive midfield spot adding more assurance. Up front will surely have Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez, and Cody Gakpo starting, in the hope they can form a real attacking relationship.
Momentum could be the difference here, with Brighton coming into this matchup in a good run 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 for revenge, with a keen eye on matching the home sides enviable work-rate.
In a game with so many questions surrounding the visiting outfit, it’s hard to see how they can turn around the result from just a fortnight ago. With more preparation and awareness of Brighton’s strengths, it should see the reds better prepared for the challenge in front of them. The underlying fact of inconsistency remains, however, with Brighton looking the team more likely to emerge victorious.
Player to watch – Moisés Caicedo
Score Prediction: Brighton 2 – 1 Liverpool