By Christopher Boulay
After the embarrassing 4-0 defeat to Spurs, Liverpool will travel to Brighton for a Wednesday match, and this could be exactly what the Reds need to get back on the winning track.
But the League Cup third round opponent are not to be taken lightly. While a win is likely expected for the Merseysiders, Brighton has flown under the radar. Despite a weekend loss to Leicester City, the Seagulls are third in The English Championship table. This is an impressive start for the club, who are led by manager Gus Poyet. (Liverpool supporters may remember Poyet when he was in the midfield for Real Zaragoza, Chelsea and Tottenham from 1990-2004.)
The player to watch for in the Brighton squad is Ashley Barnes, a 21-year-old striker who leads the team in scoring so far this campaign with five goals. Another name that may be recognizable to many is Kazenga LuaLua, winger from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who came off of the bench for the Seagulls, and a Newcastle United loanee. He may be better known as the younger brother of former Portsmouth striker, Lomana. Brighton will be without defender Marcos Painter, who was sent off for a challenge during the weekend match against Leicester City.
Whoever is in the back line for Liverpool will be tested, but if the defense can be shored up for the match, it will likely be a matter of scoring on the Brighton defense – one that has only given up five goals in seven matches. With Charlie Adam and Martin Skrtel out of the match due to suspension, it will be up to Kenny Dalglish to shuffle the side around. Don’t expect a weakened squad, though. Liverpool is taking every competition seriously, and that was made clear with the lineup put forward against Exeter City.
Expect Pepe Reina to get a rest, with Doni replacing him. Jay Spearing may make an appearance in the midfield, especially with Adam’s suspension. Hopefully Martin Kelly can start, but for now, he is on the bench, to be brought on if needed. Expect a strong front so Liverpool can strike first. If the club score early, it could be a quick day for Suarez or Carroll, with Craig Bellamy making an appearance in relief. This should be Bellamy’s tournament, but after the poor play by the team on Sunday, Kenny Dalglish may just throw on the big guns to put this result beyond all doubt and put some belief back in the side.
Liverpool v Brighton and Hove Albion
When: Wednesday, September 21 1945 BST/ 1445 ET
Where: Falmer Stadium, Brighton
Table: Liverpool 8th in Premier League (7 points), Brighton 3rd in Championship (16 points)
Last League Cup Match: Liverpool 3-1 Exeter City, Brighton 1-0 Gillingham
Brighton Starting 11 v Leicester:
DEF: Greer, Dunk, Calderon, Painter (Suspended)
MF: Noone, Harley, Dicker, Bridcutt
FW: Barnes, Mackail-Smith
Subs: Brezovan, Vincelot, Navarro, LuaLua, Buckley
Projected Liverpool Starting 11 (Modified 4-4-1-1):
DEF: Flanagan, Coates, Carragher, Jose Enrique
MF: Downing, Lucas, Spearing, Kuyt
FW: Suarez, Carroll
Subs: Reina, Wilson, Robinson, Maxi, Gerrard, Shelvey, Bellamy