This week Chris Hurst gives his thoughts on Liverpool`s trip to Brighton & Hove Albion:
PP: What are your initial thoughts ahead of the trip to Brighton?
CH: First thoughts are that’s it’s going to be another hard game for us, newly promoted side and doing better than any of us could have predicted if we’re honest. Also, it all depends what Liverpool turns up. Recent form for us suggests another win but there’s something there which, regardless of form, still has you fearing the worst before every game, or maybe I’m too pessimistic. Score prediction, I’ll go 3-1 to the reds, as we know we have no problem scoring goals we just seem to concede daft ones, but for all the stick the defence gets I don’t think they’ve been too bad of late and let’s hope that’s the case this Saturday, hopefully Firmino, Manè and Coutinho have all had a little rest now, and Salah. I don’t need to say no more about him, he’s been absolute revelation this season, an absolute goal machine so long may that continue.
PP: What’s your prediction and why?
CH: They have been criticised and rightly so, but it’s not the defence as a unit that’s costing us its individual errors which as I said before they seem to be changing, I think since the Spurs game we’ve only conceded 5 in all comps and 4 of them were Sevilla away and Chelsea at home which was a fluke don’t care what anyone says he didn’t mean that. I think too many changes doesn’t help, I know players get injured and that can’t be helped but we’ve got Matip who can barely string a run of games with picking n up a knock, the RB position keeps getting changed every other game, and the fans keep screaming for Moreno to be dropped for Robinson. A good defence should start with consistency, it’s easier said than done I know, but 2 years into the job and none of us know what our best back line is do we? So that needs addressing ASAP. Hopefully January can see us add at least two defensive players, whether that be 2 CB’s or 1 plus a solid defensive midfielder, only time will tell.
PP: Who could you bring in January to fix the defensive issues? Is this the only solution?
CH: We all know everyone wants VVD and I think we will get him but it’s not just him we need, I think another good addition would be his international team-mate Stefan de Vrij, the two would compliment each other and they both know each other’s games so would benefit us massively I think. As far as a DM goes I’ve no idea who we could bring in but if we didn’t I think Grujic deserves a run in the side. Henderson and Milner look they have struggled in recent weeks so maybe it’s their time for a rest now. But it’s not all about players, tactics from the manager and his team also need to improve, the squad seem to be lacking in self-belief, when we take the lead we seem to flap a bit which then leads to the individual errors because the players are under so much pressure to not f**k it up, also the timing of subs, in last two games we’ve seen how much that matters. Chelsea were too late, Stoke were spot on. It’s all about fine margins, something everyone has to learn sharpish as this league can crucify the smallest mistake.
PP: Brighton were impressive against Man Utd last weekend and unlucky not to come away with a point. What’s your assessment of them this season?
CH: For a small club like Brighton to win promotion to the premier league and to be in the position they’re in you can’t have anything but respect for them, as you say they were very unlucky against Utd an lost through an own goal, which going back to my last point about the smallest mistake and it being punished you have to be focused at every minute, but on the whole they’re doing very well, but of course this Saturday they’re just another club we have to beat.
Bruno at right back has been good this season also the Glenn Murray is having a good one, but the stand out player for me is Pascal Groß I think he will the man to look for when we visit this week.
I think any newly promoted side will always have the “they’ll go straight back down” tag put on them and with Brighton before the season started you’d be a fool to think anything less but I like it when a team proves people wrong so yes without doubt they have surprised everyone with how they’ve started; even a few Brighton fans I bet.
PP: Liverpool staying in the title race?
CH: I don’t think we’re still in it to be honest we’re nearly at the halfway stage and City are flying and are 14 points ahead. Can you see not only City dropping that many points but Liverpool not also dropping too? We’d need nothing short of a miracle to win the league now which is why I think yet again top four is an absolute must. I want us to win the league every year but we need to be realistic. Let’s establish ourselves back in Europe then who knows what players we may attract to make the next push in the league.
PP: Suggestions in the press this week say Liverpool need to be more like Chelsea. What are your thoughts?
CH: I don’t think we need to be more like them, if there were any team in the league I wish we were more like (puts tin hat on) it’s Utd. I don’t mean on the manner of which they play but they’re horrible, they know how to win ugly, how to hold onto leads. We all love fast free flowing 4-0 wind every week but just sometimes I wish we could see games out more or have a more ruthless nature to our play.