There were few days as torrid for Liverpool during their underwhelming season last time out than slumping to a 3-0 defeat away to Brighton & Hove Albion. No wonder Jurgen Klopp has said his team have “things to put right” when they return to the south coast on Sunday.
That chastening Premier League visit to Roberto De Zerbi’s side in January was compounded by an FA Cup loss at the Amex Stadium two weeks later. Brighton also drew 3-3 at Anfield last term as they appeared to have Liverpool’s number during a period in which Klopp’s team regularly spluttered.
Liverpool now find themselves in a much stronger position having altered their squad in the summer, and last weekend’s contentious defeat to Tottenham Hotspur was their first loss since April. Meanwhile, Brighton have just one win from their last five games in all competitions.
Speaking after Thursday’s Europa League win over Union Saint-Gilloise, Klopp was clear that his team’s performance will be much improved on this visit.
“Whichever options you have, if you play like we played last season, you will get a massive knock again. That’s how it is,” Klopp said. “So we should play better and I think we can play better.
“Brighton have now had a few results which didn’t exactly go their way but that’s a completely normal situation in their development. They have lost a lot of top players — one of which [Alexis Mac Allister] we got — and still play incredible football.
“We expect a really tough game against one of the best-coached teams in the league. Graham [Potter, the former Brighton manager] did a lot of good work and that’s a really smart move from Potter to De Zerbi.
“They have made really great steps and are super consistent; different formations, players, lineups and yet you always see Brighton football and I couldn’t respect that more.
“I’m really looking forward to the game because we have to put a few things right. You can look silly once but you should not look it twice. It can happen because they are really good but we will give it a proper try to do better.”
'Mac Allister's too young to know best position'
Mac Allister will return to Brighton for the first time since his £35 million summer transfer having settled quickly in Liverpool’s midfield.
The Argentinian was signed as a more advanced midfielder but has had to be flexible during the opening weeks of the season when he has often been deployed as a No.6. Nevertheless, Klopp is happy with the 24-year-old’s adaptability and believes he is too young to have found his best role yet.
“No, we haven’t even looked for his best position yet, we just use him,” Klopp said. “He is a fantastic player, I love everything about him. [He’s] super smart tactically and off the pitch so it’s really nice to work with him.
“If we as a team defend well, then he can definitely play as a No.6. Did I know that before? I had a guess but I was not sure because I didn’t know how all the other boys would defend.
“Because we are defending more compact and better than during our bad phases last season, we have smaller spaces and then it's really good because he sees the situations really well and from there we have an extra footballer. He’s too young [to have a best position], he’s a midfielder.”