Ethan Golding believes Liverpool’s Premier League fixture against Brighton could serve as a great platform for the Reds to tinker with the team a little.
The visit of Brighton & Hove Albion to Anfield on Saturday is Liverpool’s last home fixture before a run of three away fixtures in four.
Away trips to Leicester and Tottenham followed by a trip to Stanford Bridge with a visit from Southampton sandwiched in between representing a difficult run of games, a run capped by a visit from the defending Premier League Champions.
If properly managed, Brighton’s visit represents the best opportunity to rest and give minutes to players who have not had a full preseason. Bobby Firmino and his front three amigos looked massively disjointed during their visit to Selhurst Park on Monday night.
Sadio Mané seems to be the only member of Liverpool’s attacking trio to have returned from the summer break a step ahead of where he was last season. This isn’t to say that Firmino and Salah have looked poor, just that they have looked a little off the pace that they have set for themselves.
With all three players having played at the World Cup this summer none were able to avail of a full Klopp Preseason programme. While minutes are integral, Salah and Firmino’s ring rust is evident. Resting the two forwards and replacing them with Daniel Sturridge and handing a full debut to Xherdan Shaqiri would be a logical and exciting prospect.
The two looked sharp and linked up well in pre-season, offering goals and chances in abundance. Sturridge doesn’t look the same player that he was four years ago but he looks like he has found a way of adapting to Klopp’s style of play. While still offering runs off the shoulder of the last man he has also begun to drop deep, taking up creative space in the number 10.
Shaqiri has looked dangerous from various positions not just out wide. His willingness to drop into the attacking 8 position in midfield and run past the striker would mean the fluidity of Klopp’s 4-3-3 from last season would not become as stiff as it had during rotation last season.
Fabinho looks to be getting the Robertson treatment and so it could be a while until we see him introduced fully. In fact, with first the Manchester City game on the horizon, it could be a while yet until we see him grab his full debut.
The midfield three of Milner, Gini & Keïta has looked full of energy, ingenuity and industry in the first two games, but given Milner’s all action style and the hard edge and leadership he brings to the side, it is important that he does not burn out before two difficult away fixtures.
Jordan Henderson’s request to return to pre-season early was denied but the Liverpool captain maintained a fitness regime on his own regardless. Now it’s imperative that the English international gets competitive minutes under his belt again.
A starting role and sixty to seventy-five minutes against Brighton on the weekend would be a great opportunity for the skipper to up his fitness as well as developing an on-pitch relationship with Naby Keïta.
On the back of a strong performance against Crystal Palace, it would be a surprise to see the back five altered in anyway. While Alexander-Arnold and Robertson looked shaky at times during Monday’s away trip, the two full backs settled into the game well, all the while the partnership of Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk looks to be worth the wait.
Gomez’ time as a fullback also looks to have served him well, never looking overtly uncomfortable when left in open space.
The understanding between the two centre-halves looks to be developing nicely with van Dijk relishing the role as a senior player and commander at the back. Marshalling the back four as a collective, the Dutchman showed great trust in his young defensive partner while at the same time taking control and crossing defensive lines when needed.
While the more time the defensive unit spends together the better with time being the best way of developing a united manner of playing, it is important that Nathaniel Clyne’s recently regained fitness is not lost and a late game cameo would be a good way of ensuring Clyne is ready to step in if needed.
With the form that the side has been demonstrating in the first two games of the season, as well as throughout preseason, it is reasonable to expect big things from them this season, but the league is a marathon and not a sprint.
It is important to maintain the squad’s fitness and manage each game accordingly, a home fixture against Brighton represents a perfect opportunity to start managing the season but if there is one thing that Manchester United can teach us this season, it’s to not underestimate the Southeast side.