By Christopher Boulay
Eight days after a difficult loss in the league against Manchester United, Liverpool hosts Brighton and Hove Albion in the fifth round of the FA Cup, with hopes it can keep the dreams of a double alive.Liverpool will likely have Maxi Rodriguez back in the squad, as he is fully-fit from an injury, and the Argentine could be a strong option off of the bench or on the wings, as the midfield struggled against United.
The club will have the luxury of being familiar with its opponent, as the Seagulls hosted Liverpool in the League Cup earlier this season, but lost 2-1. In that match, goals from Dirk Kuyt and Craig Bellamy saw the Reds through to the next round, and both could be getting the nod for a second helping.
However, Gus Poyet’s side is confident. Despite falling to ninth in the Championship, the Seagulls are in the thick of the playoff race, and a continued cup run may help buoy the squad’s spirit. With a deep strike force, the club may prove a tough nut to crack, so Liverpool best plan to score early.
Brighton will be looking to improve upon its midweek result, which was a draw at home against Millwall. The Seagulls needed a late goal from Kazenga LuaLua in order to salvage the 2-2 draw.
One thing on Kenny Dalglish’s side for this match is the club’s complete dominance at home. Anfield has been a fortress, with Liverpool not giving up a loss there in any competition. Brighton will be no pushover, but it is a match that is expected to be won by both the fans and the club.
Dalglish has hinted that youngsters Jack Robinson and Jon Flanagan could start the match, which would mean Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson would likely get the day off. If Liverpool decides on a complete change in the back, both Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger could make way for Jamie Carragher and Martin Kelly.
Luis Suarez will try to continue to put the past behind him, as he likely will get the start after scoring his side’s only goal in the match last weekend.
Liverpool v Brighton and Hove Albion
When: Sunday, February 19 1630 BST/ 1130 ET
Where: Anfield, Liverpool
Table: Liverpool 7th in Premier League (39 points), Brighton 9th in Championship (49 points)
Last League Cup Match: Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United, Brighton 1-0 Newcastle
Projected Brighton Starting 11:
DEF: Mattock, Greer, Dunk, Calderon
MF: Noone, Navarro, Bridcutt, Buckley
FW: Vokes, Mackail-Smith
Subs from: Ankergren, Vincelot, El-Abd, Jara, Assulin, Razak, Navarro, LuaLua, Barnes, Agdestein
Projected Liverpool Starting 11:
DEF: Flanagan, Skrtel, Agger, Robinson
MF: Kuyt, Gerrard, Adam, Maxi
FW: Suarez, Bellamy
Subs from: Doni, Carragher, Johnson, Kelly, Wilson, Enrique, Downing, Spearing, Henderson, Shelvey, Carroll
Interact: What’s your final score prediction? What’s your predicted starting eleven? Comment below.