The devastation caused to Liverpool’s squad due to injuries and absentees was laid bare in the 0-2 defeat to Atalanta on Wednesday evening. Jurgen Klopp’s team selection was a nod to the need to protect his key figures, and the new faces struggled to gel with one another – evidenced by the fact that the Reds failed to fire in a single shot on target.
At the other end, defensive naivety and a lack of concentration enabled the Italians to score twice in the space of four second half minutes – Josip Ilicic sliding home Alejandro Gomez’s gorgeous cross before Robin Gosens fired home the second shortly after.
That forced Klopp’s hand and he made four substitutions – messrs Firmino, Jota, Robertson and Fabinho entering the fray, but they were unable to turn the tide against a gutsy Atalanta side.
It’s not a disastrous result as far as the Reds’ Champions League progress is concerned, but it was a statement that need to ensure their central figures – the ones that aren’t already injured, that is – are protected ahead of the hectic festive period.
In another way, you can call it a freak result. This is the first time that Liverpool have lost by a margin of more than one goal in 137 games, and this is the first time in 16 years the Reds have failed to record a single shot on target at Anfield in the Champions League.
Such rules are meant to be broken, and especially so when you are paranoid about the welfare and fitness of your players. Klopp once again showed no intention of hiding his feelings when quizzed by BT Sport, saying: “You ask us to go Saturday at 12:30, which is nearly a crime. That is nothing to do with the result, but congratulations to you.
“Thumbs up, no injuries and we go again.”
That they do with the trip to Brighton on Saturday lunchtime.
Liverpool Team News
Klopp will have one eye on the trip to Ajax, which follows on Tuesday, but in the meantime he will be looking to field a side he believes is strong enough to take the three points home from the south coast.
Is Fabinho fit enough to play again? Can Joel Matip handle three games in a week? Those will be key questions that inform the manager’s decision making in defence, and it’s possible that Nat Phillips will come in to partner Fabinho with Matip given the afternoon off.
It’s likely that Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson will miss out, although the decision to not field Bobby Firmino in midweek was seen as a precautionary measure – the Brazilian should start on Saturday.
You would expect Andy Robertson and Naby Keita to come back into the starting eleven too, with James Milner possibly shifting to right back.
And the fab four of Salah, Mane, Firmino and Jota could all start as Klopp looks to down Brighton with a display of attacking pomp and intensity.
There is something of a pattern to Brighton’s start to the Premier League campaign.
Victories over Newcastle and Aston Villa were, while not expected, not completely beyond the pale, while draws with Crystal Palace, West Brom and Burnley show the resilience that Graham Potter has added to the Seagull’s exuberance.
But arguably it’s in defeat where lessons have best been learned by punters: Brighton have gone down to Chelsea, Manchester United, Everton and Tottenham, scoring in each but conceding an average of three per game.
It’s absolutely not out of the question that such a pattern will continue against Liverpool too, and that’s the trend that punters should have in mind ahead of placing their bets here.
Brighton vs Liverpool Betting Tips
Liverpool are available at a meaty 4/6 to win this game on the south coast, and if Klopp fields Salah, Mane, Jota and Firmino in one single attacking frontline then the Reds surely have to be considered a warm favourite.
The Seagulls are also without a number of injured parties, and so a similar result to those they have experienced against the top six teams so far this term seems likely.
Liverpool to win and both teams to score is an excellent price at 2/1 – remember, a similar punt would have landed in all four of Brighton’s games against the ‘big’ sides so far.
And you can try your luck in the correct score market by dutching a couple of options together – 2-1 and 3-1 to Liverpool are available at 8/1 and 12/1 respectively.