Why Liverpool Should Be Very Afraid Of A Day Trip To Brighton

Poyet knows Suarez inside out, Liam Bridcutt is the next Claude Makelele, Craig Noone tiled Steven Gerrard's roof and Brighton schooled their last Premier League opposition...
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Poyet knows Suarez inside out, Liam Bridcutt is the next Claude Makelele, Craig Noone tiled Steven Gerrard's roof and Brighton schooled their last Premier League opposition...

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Last time Brighton met Liverpool, for Jimmy Case's testimonial in 1994, The Reds' Spice Boys were mounting a challenge at the top of the Premier League. Brighton, meanwhile, were struggling in the lower reaches of the Football League: potless, hopeless and soon to be homeless.

Much has changed for both clubs in the intervening 17 years, but while Liverpool are still chasing a first Premier League title, Albion have been to the brink of extinction and back.

Tonight's League Cup tie at the impressive new Amex stadium on the Sussex coast represents a significant landmark in the topsy turvy recent history of the Seagulls, whose bright and gifted young team currently sit pretty inside The Championship's promotion places. Here's five reasons the visitors from the North West should be afraid, very afraid..

1: Our manager has the inside track on their chief goal threat...

Brighton boss Gus Poyet first spotted fellow Uruguayan Luis Suarez when the Reds' striker was in his early teens. "Luis was playing for the Nacional youth team at a tournament back home in Montevideo," Poyet remembers. "Even at a young age, his pace and power set him apart." Gus kept close tabs on Suarez as he became known as 'The Gunfighter' in his native land, before fleeing South America for Europe. Poyet has since served as a significant mentor in Suarez's development into a global star. "Moving to Europe, and particularly to England, can be tough for a young Uruguayan," admits Poyet. "So we talk on the phone and I advise him on how to adapt in terms of lifestyle and playing in the Premier League." Whether all of that translates into Poyet knowing a way to stifle Liverpool's feisty number 7 remains to be seen. But he should have a better chance than most.

2: Our world-class superstar is making his debut...

Well, at least I hope he's making his debut, (at the time of writing it is a high possibility.) The world-beater I refer to is Spain international winger - and one of my favourite players of the past decade - Vicente. The silky Valencian, with the vision of an infra-red camera and a heavenly wand of a left foot, said adios to La Liga in the summer after 11 years at his hometown club. Having almost signed for Liverpool during Rafa Benitez's reign, the 30-year-old has longed for a move to these shores. I expected him to sign for Newcastle, Villa, QPR or Blackburn, as was rumoured. Somehow he's ended up at little old Brighton. I refuse to accept this is true until I personally see him run out in a blue and white shirt. Tonight could be the night. And if it is, whichever makeshift right back Liverpool field had better watch out.

When the firm he was sub-contracting for got a gig at Steven Gerrard's house, he thought that was the closest he'd ever get to the Premier League

3: Our winger has a point to prove...

Craig Noone has looked pretty much the best player in The Championship so far this season.  But though he's making waves right now, Albion's resident Scouser has hardly led the life of your average young football star. The 23-year-old winger was written-off by Liverpool academy staff at the tender age of 11 and wasn't picked up by another pro club for a decade. In fact just three years ago, he was playing part time football while plying his trade as a roofer. When the firm he was sub-contracting for got a gig at Steven Gerrard's house, he thought that was the closest he'd ever get to the Premier League. "I hope Stevie is fit enough to play tonight," says Noone. "It'll make a difference for him to come up against me on the pitch as opposed to seeing me tile his roof! Hopefully he'll see how far I've come."

4: Our midfield general is a future England star...

Deemed surplus to requirements at Chelsea, Liam Bridcutt signed for Brighton last summer after Gus Poyet had received a tip-off from ex Blues coach Ray Wilkins. Bridcutt was, Wilkins reasoned, an exceptional talent sculpted in the mould of Claude Makelele and possessing all the armoury needed to one day play for England. As it turns out, Butch was spot on. The 22-year-old from Berkshire reads the game brilliantly and serves as the hub in every one of Brighton's slick passing moves. He gave the ball away just four times in the first five games of the season - I know this because I kept count. Bridcutt is so assured in possession that the rare occasions he does lose the ball become noteworthy incidents. The boy is class and tonight, even in the face of seasoned internationals like Lucas and Gerrard, i fully expect him to prove as much. Whether or not we're playing in the top-flight next season, I predict that Bridcutt will be.

5: We schooled our last Premier League opponents...

Bridcutt, Noone and the rest of Poyet's well-drilled troops have got previous. Last month, in the previous round of the Carling Cup, we welcomed a full-strength Sunderland side to our beaming new 22,000-seater home. The Black Cats simply couldn't cope with the Seagulls in full flight. Lee Catermole repeatedly lunged at Bridcutt's shadow and Wes Brown made our record signing Craig Mackail-Smith look like Marco Van Basten. We ran them ragged, kept more possession throughout and scored a deserved winner in extra time. Liverpool can expect similar treatment tonight. And judging by their dismal display at Spurs the other day, not even Steven Gerrard can save them from a good spanking beside the seaside.

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