Nunez starts & "magician" benched in predicted Liverpool lineup v Brighton

Nunez starts & “magician” benched in predicted Liverpool lineup v Brighton


Liverpool are back in action after what felt like an endless international break and will host Brighton & Hove Albion as they seek to continue their bid for the Premier League title.

Jurgen Klopp might have watched his complacent side crash out of the FA Cup against rivals Manchester United two weeks ago but the Reds trail first-placed Arsenal only on goal difference in the league standings, with the Gunners heading to the Etihad Stadium tomorrow afternoon.

Injuries have threatened to blight an enthralling campaign – Klopp’s last as Liverpool manager – but the farewell parade remains firmly charted for success after a testing few months that have seen the Carabao Cup clinched and the quest for the Europa League enter the last eight stage.

Curtis Jones could return after a near-two-month layoff, while Ibrahima Konate will be hoping to start after missing the past few fixtures. Andy Robertson picked up an issue with Scotland but fears of a long-term problem have been allayed and the former Hull City ace could be involved.

With this in mind, Klopp could make three changes to the team that succumbed to defeat at the Theatre of Dreams before the international break.

GK – Caoimhin Kelleher

Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher. 

Klopp described Caoimhin Kelleher as “the best no.2 in the world” after his stellar showing against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final, but the biggest testament that can given to the Irishman is that Alisson Becker’s absence hasn’t really been felt, not to a great degree.

Brighton have taken the sixth-most shots in the league this term, more than Manchester United, and he will need to be focused against slick, confident opposition.

RB – Conor Bradley

Liverpool right-back Conor Bradley.

The cascade of academy talent that has shot onto the scene for Liverpool this season is emblematic of the progress made under Klopp’s management over the past several years, and while there have been many high-level prospects break through this season, none have been better than Conor Bradley.

Jarell Quansah has the makings of a high-class centre-back, while Bobby Clark is an exciting and elegant midfielder, but the 20-year-old Bradley has been sensational, posting a goal and five assists since January.

CB – Ibrahima Konate

Ibrahima Konate for Liverpool.

Ibrahima Konate has missed the past few games for Liverpool but he should return to the starting line-up against Roberto De Zerbi’s men.

Joel Matip’s season-ending injury back in December could have been detrimental to Liverpool’s campaign but the Frenchman has come on leaps and bounds.

CB – Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk for Liverpool

Virgil van Dijk fell by the wayside last season but the captain’s armband appears to have pumped fresh life into those prodigious legs, with the Netherlands star heralded for his “absolutely immense” displays by The Athletic’s James Pearce.

LB – Joe Gomez

Liverpool defender Joe Gomez.

Robertson might have avoided serious injury but would be wise for Klopp to opt for the prudent route, especially with a non-stop run of fixtures forthcoming.

Joe Gomez 23/24: Games by Position

















Defensive midfield




Stats via Transfermarkt

Luckily, Joe Gomez has been in fine form this season across a range of positions, with the England international’s energy and multi-faceted skill set perfect for countering a possession-heavy Brighton threat.

DM – Wataru Endo

Liverpool's Wataru Endo.

What a player. He collects. Calm. Composed. Wataru Endo knows his surroundings, instinctively. Crisp passing, tough tackling, alert movement. He gets it.

Surprisingly signed from Stuttgart for £16m last summer, the Japan international is proving to be one of the shrewdest additions to Klopp’s tenure. And that’s saying something.

CM – Alexis Mac Allister

Alexis Mac Allister.

Signed from Brighton last summer, Alexis Mac Allister will be key in taking control in a vital midfield battle, with the 25-year-old so influential as the kernel of Klopp’s system.

As per Sofascore, the 2022 World Cup winner has scored three goals and supplied four assists across 23 Premier League matches this season, completing 88% of his passes and averaging 1.2 key passes, 2.8 tackles, 5.7 successful duels and 5.9 ball recoveries per game.

CM – Ryan Gravenberch

Liverpool midfielder Ryan Gravenberch.

Having ebbed and flowed from form since joining Liverpool last summer, Ryan Gravenberch will be hoping to hit a vein of consistency over the final few months of the campaign.

The £120k-per-week “magician” that is Dominik Szoboszlai – as talent scout Jacek Kulig has dubbed the Hungarian – might sit on the bench to accommodate Gravenberch, and with the games coming thick and fast, this might not be a bad call.

RW – Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah in action for Liverpool.

Mohamed Salah is fit and firing once again and he will play an instrumental part in Liverpool’s success over the coming fixtures.

As per FBref, the Egyptian ranks among the top 2% of attacking midfielders and wingers across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for goals and touches in the attacking penalty area, the top 1% for assists and the top 20% for progressive passes per 90.

He’s clinched eight goals and seven assists across 14 matches against the Seagulls, including a brace in the reverse fixture this term, back in October.

LW – Luis Diaz

Luis Diaz warming up for Liverpool.

Luis Diaz has been in fine fettle of late and while he’s a tad wasteful in front of goal, this fleet-footedness and electric movements down the left channel will be crucial, stretching the Albion backline and allowing his peers to find space and strike on goal.

CF – Darwin Nunez

Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez

Darwin Nunez remained on Merseyside for Uruguay’s recent international fixtures with a slight injury issue, but the 24-year-old is expected to have recovered and will likely be at the centre of the action against Brighton.

So influential, Nunez has posted 17 goals and 14 assists across just 27 starting appearances this season.

Predicted Liverpool XI in full vs Brighton: (GK) Caoimhin Kelleher; (RB) Conor Bradley, (CB) Ibrahima Konate, (CB) Virgil van Dijk, (LB) Joe Gomez; (DM) Wataru Endo, (CM) Alexis Mac Allister, (CM) Ryan Gravenberch; (RW) Mohamed Salah, (LW) Luis Diaz, (CF) Darwin Nunez


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