Brighton will be Liverpool’s third opponents of the Premier League season as the Reds look to make it three wins out of three at Anfield on Saturday evening. Let’s take a look at five things to keep an eye on.
Will Firmino get off the mark for the season?
The Brazilian forward has started off the season relatively quietly, with one assist in two games thus far. His impact on the team however, is limitless, with his tireless pressing a nightmare for any defender. Combine that with his clever dropping into midfield to free space in behind for wingers Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, and you have a forward who doesn’t necessarily need to score to have an impact on the team.
Having said that, Firmino is always hungry for goals and always strives to be the best. While goals aren’t the be all and end all of his game, they’re certainly something that matters to him on a personal level. After scoring 27 goals in all competitions last season, including 15 in the Premier League, he’ll be desperate to get off the mark on Saturday against the Seagulls.
Will Brighton end 34-year wait for Liverpool win?
To find Brighton’s last victory over Liverpool, you would have to go back to 1984 – 34 and a half years ago. In the Premier League era, this fixture has only taken place last season, with Liverpool winning 5-1 at the Amex and 4-0 on the last day of the season at Anfield. The Seagulls’ last victory against the Merseyside club came in the FA Cup back in 1984, with Joe Fagan’s men falling to a 2-0 defeat in the 4th round of the competition. For a league win, you’d have to go back to 1982 in the old First Division, with the south coast club winning 1-0 at Anfield.
Liverpool will be very eager to keep this long run going against the Seagulls at Anfield, with a victory vital to keep up their title-chasing form at the start of the Premier League season.
Will Fabinho finally get his chance?
Over the last year, we’ve seen that Klopp is willing to take as long as he needs to ease a player into the team, rather than chuck them in straight away. Two examples of this from last season are Andrew Robertson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Scottish left-back took until the start of December to cement his place in Klopp’s starting XI. Oxlade-Chamberlain, on the other hand, was in and out of the team until mid to late December when he started to feature more regularly.
We could be seeing a repeat of this with Fabinho, coming from a league with a completely different tempo to that of the English game, having played in a two-man midfield under Leonardo Jardim. It’s evident that Klopp knows it’ll take time for the Brazil international to adapt to his style and philosophy. Having said that, Liverpool fans are getting impatient to see their new £39m man in action in a competitive game. Before the Palace game, Klopp said: “There are normal squad decisions you have to make week in, week out and that’s what I did. [No problem], nothing; he is here [with the squad].” The question is – does Klopp think he has given him enough integration time and that he’s ready to start for the reds?
Will Van Dijk and Gomez’s partnership continue to grow?
Jurgen Klopp has placed his faith in Joe Gomez alongside van Dijk In the first two games of the season, neither Virgil van Dijk or Joe Gomez have put a foot wrong at the centre of defence. This is a long-term partnership in the making, with the experience and leadership of Dutchman van Dijk complimenting Gomez’s raw pace and reading of the game. Both can be credited, particularly Virgil, with an excellent passing range, able to pick out any of the front three impeccably with one simple swing of the foot.
Long may this form continue, with the next test for the duo being the clever movement and precise finishing of Glenn Murray. While not the quickest, he’s not the type of player who you’d want to give any room inside the penalty area, with sharp, deadly finishing being his most dangerous attribute. They’ll have bigger tests along the road, but here’s hoping they can keep up their fine run of form with another clean sheet.
Will Alisson be given his toughest test so far?
In terms of overall saves he has had to make, it’s not been the toughest start for the Brazilian shot-stopper as of yet. He has only faced 4 shots on target, 2 from each of West Ham and Crystal Palace. Despite this, Brazil’s number 1 has still managed to impress us all massively in the opening two games. This is due to his superb ability on the ball, and his ability to start attacks due to his fantastic distribution. In his most recent game at Selhurst Park, he completed 21 of his 23 attempted passes, 10 of which travelled more than 30 metres. He managed to make a smart save from a Luka Milivojevic free kick, but certainly a save that is expected of any Premier League goalkeeper.
It remains to be seen whether he can handle the pressure that playing at a club the size of Liverpool brings, but the signs so far are very promising. He can and should expect tougher tests along the road than in the first two games, especially on Saturday against the south coast club. However, he will be confident he can keep his 100% clean sheet record intact for at least one more week.