BRIGHTON VS LIVERPOOL: FA CUP PREVIEW
It’s been almost a week since the Reds were last in action, with Jürgen Klopp’s men held to a dull goalless draw at Anfield by Chelsea last Saturday. Attention now turns to the FA Cup fourth round, with a trip to Brighton awaiting on Sunday. Here’s the match preview.
The manager has overseen a back to basics approach over the last two matches, with the Reds keeping back to back clean sheets for the first time in three months. A Harvey Elliott stunner was the only goal scored in these two fixtures, with the side’s attacking threat hampered by this conservative tweak.
It is at least something to build on however. The Reds had been on a dreadful downward spiral, conceding big chance after big chance, with a non-existent midfield being constantly cut through. The key change to the midfield setup has been the inclusions of Stefan Bajcetic and Naby Keita.
The 18 year old especially has made a serious case to be considered first choice going forward, with his rapid development rewarded with a brand new contract. The Spanish youngster has added bite and energy to the base of midfield, as well as a calmness in possession.
Keita meanwhile has provided a burst of energy across the last two games, getting about the pitch busily and aiding the press which has been conspicuous by its absence of late. The form of these two has seen an upturn in Thiago’s performances as well.
The Spanish maestro now has legs around him, making his job easier. The form of Fabinho and Henderson has gone from a slight concern to a real headache for the manager. The duo have been the beating heart of this side over the past few years but look devoid of energy at the minute.
They aren’t the only ones in poor form as talisman Mohamed Salah is going through a rough patch himself. The Egyptian has only netted once in his last six appearances across all competitions, registering zero shots on target in his last three.
This downturn in form for the man who has won three of the last five Golden Boots, coupled with injuries to Diaz, Jota and Firmino, as well as new signings Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo still adapting to their new surroundings, has seen the side look toothless lately.
There has been plenty for the manager to sort through at the AXA Training centre this week. The side’s last trip to Brighton remains a low point. A sorry display was punished to the tune of a 3-0 defeat. The aim this Sunday will be to improve on a performance the manager labelled the worst of his career.
That shouldn’t be difficult but whether it will be enough to secure victory and passage to the fifth round remains to be seen. Brighton have been in rude health this campaign, beating all of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal. They sit sixth in the league table at the halfway point of the season.
Liverpool failed to get the better of them in both league meetings this season, with the shambles at the Amex stadium preceded by a Leandro Trossard inspired 3-3 draw at Anfield back in October. It is not too preposterous to say the Reds are underdogs coming into this clash.
Brighton romped to a pretty convincing 5-1 victory at Middlesbourough in the third round to reach this stage. They rescued a late draw at Leicester last time out in the Premier League, with young striker Evan Ferguson netting a late equaliser off the bench.
Jürgen Klopp will no doubt go strong with his lineup, with the next game (a trip to Wolves in the Premier League) another week away. This is an opportunity to return to the scene of one of the most shambolic displays under the Klopp era to show a response.
For Liverpool, Firmino (calf), Van Dijk (hamstring), Jota (calf), Arthur (thigh) and Luis Diaz (knee) remain out. Fabio Carvalho (knock) and Nat Phillips (cold) have also been ruled out by the manager but Darwin Nunez is fit enough to start after overcoming a hamstring issue.
For Roberto De Zerbi’s outfit, Jakub Moder is a long term absentee with an ACL injury, whilst former Red Adam Lallana is struggling with a knock. Levi Colwill and Facundo Buonanotte are also out. Moises Caicedo meanwhile has been left out after he went public with his desire to leave the club.
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