Brighton could create huge problems for Liverpool this weekend, as the era of Roberto De Zerbi is now in full swing.
The Reds have had a week to prepare for Saturday’s trip to the Amex Stadium in the Premier League – hopefully they have made some progress at the training base.
Last weekend’s 2-2 draw at home to Wolverhampton in the FA Cup third round was Liverpool’s latest poor performance, and the same problems were haunting them again.
If there are no significant improvements on Saturday, Jurgen Klopp’s team could easily lose more points on the South coast after drawing 3-3 at Anfield back in October.
Before the game, we spoke with Brighton fan and football finance expert Kieran Maguire (@KieranMaguire) to find out about the Seagull season, Liverpool’s problems and much more.
How would you rate the start of Brighton’s season?
Solid. The results were extremely unpredictable.
Brighton are capable of pushing Chelsea and Arsenal, but they lost at home with Nottingham Forest and away with Charlton.
Some of the matches were excellent, and the club culture was very inclusive and positive, which gave the players confidence in self-expression.
How satisfied are you with De Zerbi’s appointment?
I am delighted with Roberto De Zerbi, he took the best of Potterball and added fast and furious.
We can score or concede three or four goals in one game, having scored both at Anfield at the beginning of the season.
His role is that of a coach and he has ensured that we play positive, risky football based on possession, but we are probably more willing to throw than under Graham Potter.
Consequently, we have scored more away goals this season than any other Premier League club.
The only drawback is that the home form was poor – we are better when the emphasis is on the opponent to dominate the game.
What did he stylistically change from Potter?
Our game is less measured, although sometimes we try to score the ball into the net, as it was when Potter was in command.
He was willing to give young players a chance, partly out of necessity, but the fact that three attacking players aged 19, 20 and 21 have been playing lately is encouraging.
Have any of the players shone or been particularly bad this season?
I should mention Alexis McAllister: 25 years ago, I never thought I would see a player from Brighton at the World Cup, let alone win it.
He can play in front of four defenders, but also in the role of a striker – the way the club welcomed him after the World Cup testifies to the visionary nature of Albion.
Evan Ferguson also got off to a great start. He’s an old-fashioned number nine in many ways, but he’s fast, has good control and is good for defense.
Before the break in the World Cup, Leandro Trossard was on a roll, and not only because of a hat-trick away from Liverpool.
It is a set of tricks, but inconsistent. Unfortunately, after his return, his form fell off a cliff, which may be due to the expiration of his contract in six or 18 months.
It’s unclear if the club has initiated his one-year extension and he shows no interest in staying beyond that date and it’s such a shame.
Solly March supports both camps again. Both coaches have almost always played with him this season, but his end can be deplorable.
In Charlton, he beat six players, then made a throw of a few yards, beating only the goalkeeper, and surpassed this penalty in a shootout, which is a danger for low-flying planes!
But then Marsh scored a superb goal for Southampton from 25 yards, which sums up his unpredictable finish.
Do you think Caicedo would be perfect for Liverpool?
Moises Caicedo would be the perfect player for Liverpool.
He wins selections that he shouldn’t, he has a big engine, so he can press for 90 minutes, and is also always happy to throw.
The only problem is that he gets too many yellow cards.
As for the Reds, how do you assess their campaign to date?
Obviously, Liverpool did not meet the expectations of many fans — I am not able to say exactly why!
However, I get the impression that, like Brighton, they can score and concede equally, whereas in the last few seasons they have always been associated with a very tight defense and composure at the other end.
However, I see that Liverpool are holding a series of 10-12 games without defeats, which allows them to climb up the table.
Arsenal and Man City don’t seem to be in contention for Champions League spots, but the other two spots are up for grabs.
Where do you think both teams will finish this season?
I think Liverpool will finish fourth and Brighton ninth.
Which of the Reds players would you most like to see at Brighton and why?
We would really like Darwin Nunez!
We tried to sign him before he moved to Benfica, but for some reason he preferred the Champions League to the match against Crystal Palace, which was the biggest of the season.
Nevertheless, I think he will be a good fit for Liverpool.
Ahead of Saturday, what are the key battles?
The midfield and the far flank will be interesting.
March and Kaoru Mitoma are currently in good shape for us.
Meanwhile, Adam Lallana is in the best shape since he got to Amex, and McAllister and Caicedo in many ways cannot be dropped in their current form.
If Liverpool turn him on in attack, they will reveal our lack of pace and we are vulnerable to long diagonal passes.
And finally, what is your forecast?
I expect goals, as the attack is better than the defense for both teams.
Let’s go with Brighton 3-5 Liverpool!