Well, Liverpool’s unbeaten start to 2023/24 is officially over.
And it took one of the most controversial and painful matches of recent times for it to finally happen.
If there’s any club that can turn injustice and adversity in their favour, though, it’s Liverpool FC, and all eyes will be on a reaction when they face Brighton at the Amex Stadium on Sunday.
Having lost their last two encounters with Roberto De Zerbi’s side, it’s probably not the fixture you’d immediately hand pick to follow up such a bruising defeat for Liverpool. However, those are the cards the Reds have been dealt.
Brighton were, however, given a 6-1 beating by Aston Villa last time out, while they also face a testing trip to Marseille on Thursday before Sunday’s meeting, giving the Reds plenty of hope.
Still, Jurgen Klopp must find a way to field a winning team without suspended pair Curtis Jones and Diogo Jota, as well as the injured Cody Gakpo, or they face going into the international break still looking to recover some form.
Here’s how the Reds could line up this weekend.
© Proshots – Ibrahima Konate
Barring some unforseen issues this week, Liverpool look to have a full complement available at the back.
Alisson – likely to sit out the Europa League – will take his place in goal, having made a personal best eight saves in the loss at Spurs.
Andy Robertson and a fit-again Trent Alexander-Arnold should come in as the full backs, while captain Virgil van Dijk – who missed the 3-0 defeat at Brighton last season – will likely be paired with Ibrahima Konate, or the desperately unfortunate Joel Matip, who performed so well last weekend before his heartbreaking own goal.
Joe Gomez may be forced to return to the bench, assuming the vice-captain is fully up to speed once again following his hamstring injury.
Jones’ suspension means Klopp will have to reshuffle what was looking like becoming a preferred midfield three.
Dominik Szoboszlai is fast becoming one of the first names on the team sheet for Klopp, while Alexis Mac Allister has started every Premier League game since his summer arrival and that should continue here. The only question is whether the Argentine does so at the base of the midfield or in a more advanced role, in the absence of the Reds’ number 17.
In order to help counter the threat of such a strong possession side such as Brighton, Liverpool could start Wataru Endo – a more naturally defensive operator – at the base of the midfield.
However, the classy Ryan Gravenberch – who already has two assists to his name in 2023/24 – could be another option if Mac Allister is kept deep.
Harvey Elliott appears more likely to be used from the bench, while Thiago and Stefan Bajcetic remain injury doubts.
Liverpool’s front line is the are of most concern going into the weekend.
Diogo Jota will definitely not be available and will serve his one-match ban.
On top of that, Cody Gakpo – who had found form with three goals in his last four outings – is also set to be sidelined until after the October internationals after suffering a knee injury.
Darwin Nuñez was only fit enough for the bench against Spurs, with Klopp revealing the chaotic Uruguayan was struggling with a ‘little bone’ injury in his knee. If he is not ready to return against Brighton, Liverpool will have a real problem.
In that event, Mohamed Salah may be moved to a central role that he has on occasion played before. More likely, he will start on his usual right wing, with Luis Diaz – whose fine finish was so cruelly ruled out in London – occupying the left.
PREDICTED LIVERPOOL STARTING XI TO BRIGHTON
(4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Endo, Szoboszlai, Mac Allister; Salah, Nuñez, Diaz