Liverpool are set to face Brighton & Hove Albion in the fourth round of the FA Cup. This will be the second meeting between the two sides in 2023, with the first resulting in what Klopp would call the ‘worst game’ he has managed in his time with Liverpool.
Two weeks later and Klopp’s men look to continue their mini-revival after securing two clean sheets in a row. A 1-0 win against Wolves in the third round of the FA Cup and a draw against Chelsea in the League might not have been what fans would expect prior to the season’s beginning, but times have changed and supporters must look for silver linings where they can.
While it is expected that Brighton will put out a similar XI as the first match, it is very likely Liverpool will field a much-changed side. Since getting trounced by Brighton, Klopp has made wholesale changes either due to injuries or poor performances. Kelleher will remain the favored cup keeper, especially after Allison showing a lack of composure recently. Typical bench players like Milner, Tsimikas, and Gomez have come in for cover but we did see the return of Alexander-Arnold and Robertson against Chelsea and it is expected that they will start against Brighton.
Where the excitement lies is in the new midfield 3 Klopp has deployed in the past two outings. Replacing Henderson and Fabinho, comes youngster Stefan Bajčetić and often injured Naby Keïta to join Liverpool’s standout performer this season in Thiago. Together, they have provided the legs and the impetus that Liverpool have desperately needed this season. In the pre-match press conference, Klopp mentioned that he liked the “mix of offensive and defensive readiness” alluding to the fact that we might see the same midfield this weekend. The passing looks much smoother and tighter, Keïta offers more ball progression, and Bajčetić (who was just rewarded with a new contract) has been a revelation in the role of a 6. Sitting in front of the back four, breaking up opposition play, and oozing composure, he gives the defence confidence and his midfield partners the opportunity to create more chances in the final third.
The forward line picks itself as typical starters Díaz, Jota, and Firmino are all out injured, leaving Gakpo, Núñez, and Salah as the only fit forwards. There is a chance for Harvey Elliott to start as he impressed against Chelsea and bagged himself a wonderful long-range effort against Wolves, but Klopp will want to be wary of burning his energy levels out as there has been an over-reliance on young players this season. Another reason why fans are clamoring for FSG to put up the cash and bring in some new faces before the end of the winter transfer window.
While there is no concrete news on incoming signings or a potential financial takeover, Liverpool supporters will hope their resurgence will continue with a win against Brighton this weekend.
Predicted Liverpool XI: Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Konate, Robertson; Bajcetic, Thiago, Keïta; Gakpo, Núñez, Salah