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Jurgen Klopp needs to see more from Mo Salah, Cody Gakpo and Darwin Nunez against Brighton
JurgenKloppmade a very strange team selection for last weekend’s game against Chelsea – but I think his choice should be easy today.
Liverpool are back at the scene of one of the worst days Klopp has had as Liverpool manager, with Brighton’s 3-0 hammering earlier this month still very fresh in the memory.
That was a dark day for Klopp – and he admitted as much after the game.
His comment that he couldn’t remember a worse performance since he arrived at the club highlighted how far his team had fallen.
So in what is a vitally important FA Cup game at the same venue today, I think he should send the exact same team out and tell them to put it right.
It’s not a question of revenge because Liverpool could have no complaints about losing so heavily to a Brighton side that were better than them in every department.
I normally try and find some positives in a performance, but ask me to name a man-of-the-match from that Brighton game and I’m struggling.
A couple of young lads came on near the end and showed a bit of promise, but their efforts were highlighted due to the woeful display of so many senior players.
When a promising kid like Ben Doak has to come on and set an example for players who have been at the top of the game for so long, you know something has gone badly wrong.
And while Klopp had to put that performance and defeat down to a dreadful day at the office, it was an afternoon that set alarm bells ringing on a wider scale.
Brighton outplayed Liverpool in that match, but I was more concerned by the reality that they outworked and outfought Klopp’s side as well.
There are times in any sport when you are beaten by the better side and that is acceptable to a point.
What you cannot tolerate is players pulling on that famous red shirt and not giving everything to the cause – and we saw that in the game at Brighton two weekends ago.
So while a few Liverpool hearts may have dipped when the FA Cup fourth-round draw threw this difficult tie up, Klopp and his players need to look at it as an opportunity.
Forget about resting players as the Premier League title has long since been out of reach – and, to be honest, a top-four finish is also looking unlikely.
That means the FA Cup is now of huge importance to this season – and Klopp needs to go all out to retain the trophy he won last season.
I won this competition in 1989 with Liverpool – and while the final was a strange experience after the horrors of the Hillsborough tragedy a few weeks earlier, that winner’s medal is still one of my most prized possessions.
And even if the FA Cup has lost a little of its sparkle in recent years, Klopp’s Class of 2023 have to appreciate what it means to fans.
There is nothing like seeing your team win at Wembley and while top-four finishes have become important in the modern game, supporters get more out of a Cup final win.
With Real Madrid set to offer a daunting challenge for Liverpool in the next round of the Champions League, the FA Cup offers the best route to success this season.
So I hope Klopp abandons his plan of rotating his team and puts his best XI out there today that will include the return of captain Jordan Henderson, full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold and also Darwin Nunez up front.
Who knows, this season could look very different if Liverpool are still in trophy contention by the time Virgil van Dijk, Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz are back in the team.
So the challenge today is making sure Liverpool keep the season alive and they need to build on the small momentum built up since that Brighton horror show.
Successive clean sheets against Wolves and Chelsea were welcome, but the attacking side of Liverpool’s game was sadly lacking in the second of those two matches.
We need to see Mohamed Salah spring back into life, new signing Cody Gakpo has to start firing, and Nunez must take more of the chances coming his way.
Klopp is too good a manager to allow all he has built at Liverpool to crumble – and while it is clear that a big shake-up to the team is now needed, they cannot just throw this season away and say it counts for nothing.
A team that was knocking on the door of a historic quadruple in 2022 has fallen further than I imagined was possible over the last six months.
Now they have to prove their slump is not terminal.