Four key battles that could decide Luton vs Liverpool

Having now racked up four wins from four since the international break, Liverpool face a test unknown to them in the Premier League when they travel to face Luton Town on Sunday.

The Reds advanced to the quarter-final of the Carabao Cup midweek after their wet and windy victory over Bournemouth. Jurgen Klopp's men took confidence from recent victories over Everton, Toulouse and Nottingham Forest to the Vitality Stadium on Wednesday, setting up a tie with West Ham United in the last eight.

Darwin Nunez's stunner on the south coast proved the difference in a 2-1 victory, but attention must now turn back to the league.

After all, there is a first trip to Kenilworth Road for Liverpool in the Premier League, a ground famed for its atmosphere in spite of its small size. The Reds know nothing but a victory will do when they face Rob Edwards' side in Sunday's late kick-off, but it will be far from straightforward.

Luton, while having only managed one win from their first ten, have made life difficult for plenty of opponents this season, including table-toppers Tottenham at Kenilworth Road earlier this term.

Klopp will have a few selection headaches this weekend, so let's look at some of the decisive battles ahead of this weekend's game.


MOHAMED SALAH VS ALFIE DOUGHTY

With Luton likely to operate with a back five against the Reds, Mohamed Salah's chief task on Sunday will be to find space. The prolific Egyptian is likely to find himself man-marked and doubled-up on in an attempt to limit his impact.

However, with 14 goal contributions in as many games this season, Salah is a difficult man to keep quiet.

Alfie Doughty, who does enjoy foraying forward, will have to be razor sharp to stop Salah, who has repeatedly highlighted this campaign that he doesn't need to be at his best to hurt opponents.

If the Luton wing-back leaves any space in behind, or allows Salah to cut in on his fabled left foot, then the Hatters could be in serious trouble.

DOMINIK SZOBOSZLAI VS MARVELOUS NAKAMBA

Fresh from two assists in his last Premier League match against Bournemouth, Luton will need an action plan to stop Dominik Szoboszlai.

With a back five in place, Edwards may simply instruct holding midfielder Marvelous Nakamba to man-mark the Hungarian to stop him finding space in the right channel or around the penalty area.

With Luton expected to play the lowest of low blocks, it's up to Szoboszlai to wriggle free and find space deep in opposition territory.

It's something that Szoboszlai has been pretty good at this season, so you would expect to see him causing Luton's backline plenty of issues and making the Hatters' midfield face their own goal.

The 22-year-old's dribbling ability and flair in tight spaces could prove pivotal for Klopp's men.

IBRAHIMA KONATE VS CARLTON MORRIS

Despite Liverpool's stellar form this season, their backline has still looked penetrable. The Reds have kept just three clean sheets in ten matches and still don't look entirely convincing in the defensive third.

Ibrahima Konate has been largely impressive for Liverpool this season, but was lucky to avoid red during the Merseyside derby two weeks ago. The Frenchman, while never shying away from a physical battle, has an element of rashness to his game, something Luton striker Carlton Morris could exploit.

Luton's big centre-forward will likely avoid Virgil van Dijk as much as he possibly can, instead drifting towards Liverpool's left-hand side. Not only could he or Elijah Adebayo find space in behind Trent Alexander-Arnold, they could also prey on Konate's recklessness.

Morris is very adept at using his body to draw fouls, winning Luton free-kicks deep inside the opposition half. Given the Hatters' quality at set-pieces, Konate will need to be on his best behaviour.

If the Frenchman gifts the hosts too many opportunities to put the ball in the box, then the Reds could be in trouble.

DARWIN NUNEZ VS TOM LOCKYER

Darwin Nunez - Propaganda

Darwin Nunez has been in killer form all season, providing seven goals and five assists in 14 matches in all competitions. Nothing summed him up better than his goal midweek: an awful first touch followed by a simply sensational finish from 20 yards.

Luton's backline certainly won't be relishing a battle with Liverpool's master of chaos, with the Uruguayan certainly capable of proving the difference-maker for the Reds.

However, the former Benfica striker is normally more comfortable when he has space to run into behind the opposition backline, using his pace and physicality to torment centre-backs. Luton are unlikely to surrender much yardage in their own half, instead sitting deep to nullify Liverpool's attacking threats.

There is even perhaps an argument to suggest starting Cody Gakpo in this one, the Dutchamn more suited to playing in a false nine role that can bamboozle a trio of centre-backs. But Nunez's form makes him borderline undroppable.

As a result, Nunez will have to be at his best to expose the likes of Tom Lockyer. His touch will have to be precise, his finishing boots laced up.

In a game that doesn't naturally suit the No. 9, it's another chance for Nunez to showcase his progression.

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