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Liverpool must unleash Naby Keita against Brighton

Liverpool return to Premier League action away against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday afternoon, and manager Jurgen Klopp will view victory as imperative in order to combat the threat of failing to qualify for the Champions League.

Having picked just 28 points from the first 17 league outings, Liverpool are in danger of seeing a spot within the coveted continental competition slip away this season, with the chastening 3-1 defeat to Brentford last time out derailing progress.

However, should the Reds clinch victory, they would move within four points of third placed Newcastle United – who the Merseyside outfit hold a game in hand to – and cement their fifth victory in five matches in the division.

With Klopp’s outfit being consistently questioned for the stark decline in their control and tenacity that is almost inherent within the system, the centre of the park will need to be alert and energetic against a Seagulls team that will not allow the visitors a moment to breathe.

With this in mind, it is crucial that Liverpool’s esteemed German manager fields a starting 11 that can assert the authority on the pitch, dictating the play and searching for forward openings to create a foundation for success right from the off, and Naby Keita is the man for the job, alongside established maestro Thiago Alcantara.

Signing for the club from RB Leipzig in a £53m deal in 2017, Keita has impressed in bouts but has been beset with incessant injury problems that have severely hampered his progress, but now fully fit, he must grasp the opportunity to shine.

With a start, the Guinean midfielder would be on the pitch from the opening whistle for the very first time across all competitions this season, having made six substitute showings since his return from a lengthy injury, and is running out of chances to dazzle with his contract currently up for expiry in six months.

However, as per FBref, the maestro ranks within the top 1% of midfielders for blocks, the top 12% for touches in the attacking penalty area, the top 15% for completed dribbles and the top 5% for total shots – illustrating his robust presence that has been sorely missed this season.

With his inclusion, instigating promising play and upping the tempo with his high-octane approach, Liverpool could hold the catalyst for victory, with his “world-class” aura – as hailed by teammate Virgil van Dijk – boosting every department of the pitch.

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Let's start easy - how many points did Liverpool collect in their 2021/22 Premier League campaign?

Klopp, and indeed his squad, will understand the importance of departing from the South Coast with three points on Saturday, and however they get it done, it is paramount; the resilience and intensity that has evaded the club this term will need to be on show if they are to be victorious against a thriving cohesive unit.