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Firmino to return, Hendo straight into midfield? – Predicting Liverpool’s line-up vs. Brighton

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Liverpool will have to make changes to the starting line-up once again when Jurgen Klopp‘s side head to Brighton on Saturday.

Just two-and-a-half days separate the end of the Atalanta match and the start of this one, meaning it’s unlikely the boss will be able to call upon some of the same names who played the full 90 minutes.

While Liverpool lost that match in midweek, 2-0 to Atalanta, the team’s form has been generally good and the Reds have won three of the last four Premier League games.

A win on Saturday at the Amex will take the Reds top of the table, for at least 30 hours, and will further solidify our claim to remain the team to beat.

For that to happen, the boss has to juggle his squad once more and find a way to break down a Brighton team who have played better than their results suggest, and who concede the second-fewest shots per game this season in the Premier League, with only Manchester City allowing fewer.

They’ve yet to face the likes of Mohamed Salah and Co this term though, and we know the firepower available to Klopp can beat even the best of defences.


One back, more to come

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 17, 2020: Liverpool’s captain Jordan Henderson during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 237th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The big positive of the week is that Jordan Henderson is back in team training.

Up to Thursday he was partly still on his own individual sessions as well as parts of team training, and Klopp will wait to see how he fares on Friday to decide if the captain can be part of the match-day squad.

While there were no actual injuries sustained against Atalanta, the short turnaround means that player involvement will be dictated in part by the sport science team at Kirkby, with Klopp confirming in his press conference that he would be waiting until the last moment to decide who would be involved at Brighton.

Naby Keita and Thiago Alcantara are still absent in midfield, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Trent Alexander-Arnold are on the comeback trail but not yet involved, there is no update on Xherdan Shaqiri who has missed the last two games and Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk are long-term absentees.

Roberto Firmino started as sub against Atalanta in midweek and it can be expected that he returns to the line-up here, while the same is probably true for Diogo Jota.


Liverpool’s XI vs. Brighton

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, November 22, 2020: Liverpool’s manager Jürgen Klopp embraces goal-scorer Diogo Jota as he is substituted during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Divock Origi did himself few favours with a lethargic display in midweek, so he seems the most likely player to be taken out of the XI even without factoring in fatigue.

On the other hand, the withdrawal of Gini Wijnaldum and Mohamed Salah on the hour mark – alongside Origi – likely means they will be fine to start this fixture after a couple of days’ recovery time.

The big decisions will come with James Milner, Curtis Jones and Sadio Mane, each of whom played the full 90 against Atalanta. With less than three days to recover and another game just a few days away, it could be that one or two of that group are left on the subs bench here.

Fabinho could return to partner Joel Matip in defence, while Diogo Jota and Firmino could return to pep up both the supply line and an improved touch in the final third after a poor attacking display from the Reds midweek.

If Klopp sticks with a 4-3-3 and Henderson is fit to return, it could mean Neco Williams keeps his place at right-back, while Mane is given a rest. Andy Robertson will also be back in.

Alisson; N Williams, Fabinho, Matip, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Jones; Salah, Firmino, Jota


Alternatively, if the captain isn’t fit enough to return just yet, the boss might want a more vocal presence on the pitch – which means Milner stays in the side.

If he’s at right-back, Fabinho could be pushed forward to play in a four-man midfield similar to that seen against Man City recently. Nat Phillips could fill in at the back, given Brighton‘s attack isn’t the most fleet-footed.

In attack, Klopp could put all four of his stars in the line-up from the off, with the idea of making at least one or two changes around the hour mark if the Reds can get themselves into a commanding early lead.

Alisson; Milner, Phillips, Matip, Robertson; Jota, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Mane; Salah, Firmino


Much will depend on how the players cope with the quick turnaround and the system the boss wants to operate in – while there’s always the chance he could involve more youngsters, too.

Getting in and out with the three points intact is priority No. 1, but Klopp will hope for an improved performance level too after the vast difference between Liverpool’s showings against Leicester and Atalanta.

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