Who Starts Versus Brighton, Gravenberch or Endō?
It is amazing to consider that in recent years, Liverpool have held a stellar record in terms of on-pitch fair play, to now see them having received four red cards in their opening seven Premier League matches. The fact that Alexis Mac Allister’s dismissal was later rescinded, does not change the fact that such instances enforce changes to the team, during and after the game in question. Virgil van Dijk, Curtis Jones, and Diogo Jota, were later sent for their own early baths, with valid question marks over all those individual decisions. This coming weekend will see the Anfield club head to the south coast, as a trip the American Express Stadium awaits the 4th placed side. That Sunday afternoon encounter will take place with Cody Gakpo joining the unavailable list, alongside the suspended Diogo Jota and Curtis Jones. The fact that two forwards are not in the picture is not the biggest concern, as the first-choice front three is surely Mohammed Salah, Luis Díaz, and Darwin Núñez. It is the unfortunate three match ban that has been handed down to Curtis Jones which causes the immediate problem, given the English players prominent midfield role so far this season. Though the upcoming international break is nearby, this weekend will come too soon for Thiago Alcântara to make his long-awaited return, therefore, it appears that the choice is between Ryan Gravenberch or Japan’s captain, Wataru Endō. Despite Harvey Elliott having an outside say in the matter, I just do not see the team being shuffled around in order to create a role for the enthusiastic wide man, one who would struggle to offer the required skill set in this 2.0 version of the midfield three.
📊 So far this season no Liverpool midfielder has averaged more tackles won and interceptions combined than Wataru Endō (3.10 per 90 minutes) in all competitions.
Big chance for him now (and Ryan Gravenberch as well) to get into the team with Curtis Jones suspended. pic.twitter.com/gTILunNWEz
— Bence Bocsák (@BenBocsak) October 5, 2023
Who Is the Best Fit for The Trip to Brighton…?
Most Liverpool fans will immediately want to see Ryan Gravenberch start this game, given his high-profile summer move and subsequent £40m price tag. If the reds were at home and perhaps facing off against a less capable footballing side, I would be inclined to agree with that assessment. My overwhelming opinion though, would be to see our Argentina World Cup winner and former Brighton man, moved into that more advanced attacking midfield position (where Jones was playing), allowing the vastly experienced 30-year-old Wataru Endō to be cast as the holding destroyer. I would much rather see initial solidity in front of our travelling defence, given that it is still prone to conceding the opening goal. In an energetic counter between two possession and pressure orientated clubs, I would bank on the Red-men overcoming the home side, allowing for Ryan Gravenberch to be unleashed on tired legs later.
What Else Could Play a Part…?
Brighton are a wounded animal after their 6-1 loss away to Aston Villa last week. As I write this, the 6th placed club are preparing for their Europa League group stage game against Marseille, which is their second game of the group stage. In a Roberto De Zerbi, the overachieving side will no doubt put everything into securing a positive result against the 1992/93 European Cup winners. Jürgen Klopp’s own team will rotate heavily for their own Thursday night encounter, a home tie against little known Belgium Pro League club, Royale Union Saint-Gilloise.
Below is the starting eleven chosen by De Zerbi, as his Brighton team faces off against Olympique de Marseille. This game is one of their biggest occasions in recent history, something that should be commended. Game one of their Group B journey ended in a disappointing 2-3 loss at home to AEK Athens, which has added emphasis on their trip to France. After a difficult away day and flight home, it makes Liverpool’s visit to their home soil even more important just three days later.
For context, that game finished 2-2, with key individuals drafted from the bench, to join those first team starters that will no doubt keep their place for Sunday.
TEAM NEWS! 🚨 Here's our starting XI to face Marseille in the @EuropaLeague. 👀📝
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) October 5, 2023
The 14.00 kick off on Sunday will have to be navigated with caution, probably by both managers. The reds have struggled against the Seagulls in recent times, with just the one win in their last seven meetings, which will make our German head coach desperate for that away win. The European struggles that derailed West Ham’s domestic season last year, may now cause the same issue with Albion, who have similar limitations on how they rotate their squad of players for their own adventures. Despite seeing the sense in trying to outgun Lewis Dunk and his teammates from the off, I would hope that a more controlled approach is undertaken by Virgil and his band of brothers. To ensure three points is attained is vital, which means the right choice would be to draft Wataru Endō into the team and let Alexis Mac Allister orchestrate a positive return, against his former employers.
Alexis Mac Allister for Brighton last season 🔵 vs Alexis Mac Allister for Liverpool this season 🔴 pic.twitter.com/B7tuLlTAIa
— – (@JoshLFC1909) September 29, 2023