Liverpool will be aiming to continue their perfect start to the 2018-19 season when they welcome Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield on Saturday
The third gameweek of the Premier League season is upon us, as sides across the English top-flight start settling into their rhythm. At Anfield, Liverpool will be looking to make it three wins out of three when they play hosts to Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield on Saturday evening.
Liverpool have been almost unstoppable at the start of their campaign, looking every bit the contenders for Manchester City’s throne. The Reds began with a 4-0 win romp of West Ham United before overcoming a tough visit to Selhurst Park with a two-goal victory. Jurgen Klopp’s men are now separated from the champions by just goal difference at this early stage of the season.
Brighton, on the other hand, have been somewhat of an enigma at the start of their season, having been listless in their 2-0 loss to Watford before humbling Manchester United in a 3-2 win last weekend. At Anfield though, Chris Hughton & co. will be up against a side that handed them their two heaviest defeats in the Premier League last term.
The corresponding fixture in the 2017-18 season came on the last day of the season, with Liverpool coasting to a 4-0 win at Anfield. Ahead of their latest meeting on Saturday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Jurgen Klopp’s injury woes are reducing by the week, and the Liverpool boss is on the verge of having a clean bill of health as far as the current campaign is concerned. The only two players missing out for the Reds this week are Dejan Lovren (stomach) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), with the latter out for the rest of the season.
Joel Matip is fit and available now, although the Cameroonian is only likely to be on the bench once again, owing to the impressive showings by Joe Gomez at the heart of the Liverpool defence. Partnering the English youngster, will be Klopp’s defensive talisman, Virgil van Dijk.
The Dutchman will face another test this week, and keeping the backline organised against the tricky trio of Glenn Murray, Anthony Knockaert and Pascal Gross will be a huge challenge. But, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson will be confident of remaining disciplined to help Alisson keep another clean sheet.
One player who will not be a part of the proceedings this weekend is Loris Karius, who is reportedly set to complete a loan move to Besiktas. Meanwhile, the midfield unit is likely to remain unchanged, with Naby Keita, Georginio Wijnaldum and the old workhorse James Milner combining so well thus far.
Keita, in particular, has started his Liverpool career impressively, and will be key in breaking the Brighton resistance with his deft touches and driving runs. Upfront, the visiting defence will have the daunting task of keeping Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah at bay, the trio showing no signs of slowing down.
On the bench, Klopp has several handy options offering him solutions for various scenarios. The likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Fabinho are fallback options that any manager would be happy with.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Wijnaldum, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Brighton and Hove Albion
Chris Hughton & co. will be coming into this match riding high on confidence after their shock win over Manchester United. As far as injuries are concerned, the Brighton boss could have as many as four first-team players missing from the travelling squad to Liverpool, which presents a bit of a concern.
Those that are definitely missing out on Saturday are captain Bruno (hamstring), Florin Andone (groin) and Jose Izquierdo (hamstring), with the trio likely to be available by next week. Hughton though, will be constantly sweating over the fitness of Lewis Dunk, who hasn’t trained much this week after picking up an ankle injury last week.
The 26-year-old will likely be unavailable against Liverpool, and the Brighton boss was elated that he was not out for a long time, as was feared at first. Dunk’s absence means Leon Balogun is set for his first start of the season, partnering Shane Duffy at the heart of the defence.
In Bruno’s absence, Martin Montoya will be aiming to produce another big performance to cement his place in the starting lineup, while Gaetan Bong is pretty much nailed on as the left-back. In midfield, the onus will once again be on Davy Propper and Dale Stephens to keep things simple, organised and tight to frustrate the hosts for longer periods.
Out wide, Anthony Knockaert and Solly March will be viewing Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold as their latest targets after tormenting the Manchester United full-backs last week. That means Alireza Jahanbaksh will have to wait another week to make his full debut for Brighton.
Upfront, Pascal Gross will be the creative force for the visitors, looking to unlock the Liverpool defence with his clever interchange of play. Meanwhile, Glenn Murray will be the poacher inside the box while also looking to bring his teammates into the game with his solid hold-up play. All in all, the Hughton & co. should pose a bigger threat than they did last season.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-4-1-1): Ryan; Montoya, Duffy, Balogun, Bong; Knockaert, Propper, Stephens, March; Gross; Murray
- Liverpool have won each of their last five matches against Brighton in all competitions, scoring 20 goals and conceding just five.
- Brighton manager Chris Hughton has lost his last 12 away matches in all competitions against the Premier League’s ‘big six’ teams, seeing his teams scoring three times while conceding 38 goals in those games.
- Liverpool scored nine goals against Brighton in the Premier League last season (5-1 away, 4-0 at home) – they’ve only scored more times against an opponent twice previously in a single Premier League season (10 v Norwich in 2012-13, 11 v Ipswich in 2001-02).
- Liverpool will be looking to keep seven consecutive Premier League clean sheets for the first time since February 2007 (9) under Rafael Benitez.
- Following his goal against Crystal Palace, Liverpool’s James Milner extended his current record for the most Premier League games scored in without losing any of them (48 games: W38 D10 L0) – he is also one goal away from reaching 50 in the English top-flight.
1. Brighton Asian Handicap +2.5 @ 1.725
2. Liverpool Clean Sheet – NO @ 2.10
1. Under 1.5 Match Goals @ 6.50
Player to Watch
As Eric Bailly so embarrassingly found out last week, Brighton aren’t a side to be taken lightly, especially with Glenn Murray being deceptively smart around centre-backs. The inexperienced Joe Gomez will face a huge test against the veteran striker, whose wily instincts will pose a huge challenge for the youngster.
Thus far, Gomez has been troubled few and far between and his showing against Wilfried Zaha would have boosted his confidence. Another accomplished performance on Saturday will give Jurgen Klopp a pleasant headache in terms of central defensive selections, considering Dejan Lovren is nearing his return.
Liverpool 3-0 Brighton and Hove Albion
Brighton are flying high, and rightly so, after a huge win over Manchester United last week. But, as they found out last season, beating Liverpool at Anfield is nigh on impossible. With Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane in some menacing form, the Seagulls will likely be in damage control mode, pretty much from the get-go.
Lewis Dunk will also be a big miss for Chris Hughton, with the Englishman’s void unlikely to filled by Leon Balogun. Expect Liverpool to coast through another home game and keep the pressure on Manchester City. The Reds should also keep their slate clean at the back, and The Hard Tackle is going with a 3-0 win for Jurgen Klopp & co.