FA Cup: Brighton look to end Liverpool’s Cup run

Liverpool are in for an awkward encounter with an 18-year-old Irish wonderkid, who had rejected them to join Brighton in October 2020, when the Reds travel to the Amex Stadium for the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Evan Ferguson has three goals and 2 assists in the Premier League thus far, with an assist coming in the recent 3-0 hammering of Liverpool on January 14. Since then, he has grabbed the headlines again with his late goal against Leicester City which salvaged a draw for his team.

“I went to Liverpool a few times,” he had said to The Athletic. “It’s a good club, but you see so many boys at Liverpool just fading away and there’s no chance to get in the first team. I was thinking, ‘Do I just want to play two years of Under-18s and then go to the U23s and go from there to where?’”

The 6’2” striker who scored his first goal for the Sea Gulls first team in the EFL Cup this year against Forest Green Rovers, the same competition in which he had made his debut 12 months earlier. He even made his Ireland national team debut in November. But it’s after the World Cup break that he has really burst into life in a blue and white Brighton shirt. He netted his first Premier League goal against Arsenal in just his second league appearance, becoming the youngest ever EPL goalscorer. In the next match against Everton, his goal made him the youngest scorer to net in consecutive Premier League matches since Manchester United’s Federico Macheda.

In addition to this new threat, Jurgen Klopp’s men will also have to contend with a team which has their number. In the last two matches, Brighton have struck 3 goals past Liverpool in each encounter, the latest being a 3-0 drubbing which Klopp termed as “the worst game he remembers.” Roberto De Zerbi’s side will hope for more of the same as they host the Merseysiders again on Sunday.

Brighton have lost Leandro Trossard to Arsenal in the winter transfer window but they pack enough punch in the midfield as evidenced by the comprehensive wins against Everton (4-1), Middlesbrough (5-1) and Liverpool (3-0), all the matches that the Belgian did not play in. Kaoru Mitoma, Solly March, Ferguson, and Alexis Mac Allister are all likely to start against the Reds on Sunday. Ferguson is likely to replace Danny Welbeck up front.

Liverpool, meanwhile, will be praying for Virgil Van Djik to recover in time for the clash while stars such as Arthur Melo, Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino are very much still on the injury list. Their last match was a drab 0-0 draw against fellow strugglers Chelsea with the once vibrant Liverpool attack failing to really find a foothold in the match.

Against Brighton, Liverpool need to come off the blocks in quick fashion as any lethargic approach is likely to be punished. In order to do so, they need their talisman Mohamed Salah to get a grip on the game while getting enough support from new signing Cody Gakpo and Darwin Nunez. While a stronger looking attacking trio on paper, they really have failed to replicate the magic of Firmino, Salah and Sadio Mane from back in the day.

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