Liverpool were dealt a chastening 3-0 reversal on the South Coast only two weeks ago in the Premier League, a result that has drawn the Reds’ stop-start season into sharper focus — as well as simultaneously emphasising the continued ascent of Brighton, who are now looking to gatecrash the European places.
Focus on the English top flight, though, has been moved to the back-burner this weekend, with the FA Cup fourth round coming into focus. Klopp, in past tournaments, has had a tendency to rotate quite heavily, but given the humiliation of his last visit to Brighton, he will be tempted to go full strength and seek revenge.
Having required a replay to bypass fellow Premier League side Wolves in the previous round, there will be plenty of clamour on Merseyside for the defending champions to continue their run in English football’s most prestigious cup competition, particularly with Arsenal and Chelsea already out.
Brighton know what is required to produce an upset in the domestic cups, having claimed the scalp of Arsenal in the EFL Cup earlier this season. Coupled with Roberto De Zerbi’s 3-0 masterclass over the Reds earlier this month and a 3-3 draw at Anfield back in October, the Italian will be feeling confident ahead of this clash.
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There is perhaps one major off-field problem threatening to derail Brighton’s concentration and focus for this contest, though, with midfield lynchpin Moises Caicedo announcing a public come-and-get-me plea to potential suitors after Arsenal and Chelsea had bids rebuffed by the club.
In a social media post, the Ecuador international confirmed his intentions to leave Brighton this month. He wrote: “I am grateful to Brighton for giving me the chance to come to the Premier League and I feel I have always done my best.
“I always play football with a smile and with heart. I am proud to be able to bring in a record transfer fee for Brighton which would allow them to reinvest it and help the club continue to be successful.
“I am the youngest of 10 siblings from a poor upbringing in Santa Domingo in Ecuador. My dream always to be the most decorated player in the history of Ecuador.
“The fans have taken me into their hearts and they will always be in my heart so I hope they can understand why I want to take this magnificent opportunity.”
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Brighton vs Liverpool match stats
Quite incredibly, Brighton have only lost one of their last six games against Liverpool in all competitions. Since November 2020, they have secured two wins and three draws, with their only defeat coming in last season’s 2-0 loss on home soil. Prior to that, they had lost their nine previous matches against them.
Despite not being able to garner the attention of his more attack-minded team-mates, the importance of Lewis Dunk is integral to the way De Zerbi sets out his stool. The vital artery in Brighton’s backline, only Rodri (1,758) of Man City has attempted more passes than Dunk (1,442) in the Premier League this season, which tells you just as much about De Zerbi’s possession-heavy style as it does the influence his captain has on the pitch.
Looking to expose Dunk will be Darwin Nunez, who missed the encounter earlier this month as Liverpool were brutally defanged and nullified. A toothless showing, Klopp will be hoping Nunez can come in and add some more penetration and threat to his attacking line.
The summer recruit has been a baleful prospect in batches this campaign, a notion underlined by his propensity to let loose frequently: only Erling Haaland (40), Harry Kane (38) and Aleksandar Mitrovic (28) have had more shots on target than Nunez (25) in the Premier League this season.
14 Jan 2023 – Brighton 3-0 Liverpool – Premier League
01 Oct 2022 – Liverpool 3-3 Brighton – Premier League
12 Mar 2022 – Brighton 0-2 Liverpool – Premier League
30 Oct 2021 – Liverpool 2-2 Brighton – Premier League
03 Feb 2021 – Liverpool 0-1 Brighton – Premier League
It was quite the humbling for Klopp a fortnight ago, with the soft underbelly of his side’s defence ruthlessly exposed. A Solly March brace and a coup de grace from Danny Welbeck completed the historic win for Brighton, while a hat-trick from former wide man Leandro Trossard secured the three goals for the Seagulls earlier this season in the 3-3.