Liverpool will be hoping to overturn their mini losing run when they travel to the Amex Stadium to take on Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.
Premier League football resumes after a gap of ten days with Gameweek 22. One of the most intriguing contests on Saturday will see Brighton and Hove Albion play hosts to Liverpool at the Amex Stadium, with both sides in desperate need of a win.
Everything seemed to be going hunky dory for Liverpool at the turn of the year, with the Reds the only remaining unbeaten side in the Premier League, in addition to creating a seven-point lead atop the table. But, the 2-1 loss to Manchester City has turned the tide somewhat, with Jurgen Klopp’s men also being beaten by Wolves in the FA Cup.
Brighton, on the other hand, come into Saturday’s tie on the back of a much needed win, with the Seagulls beating Bournemouth 3-1 in the FA Cup last weekend. But, Chris Hughton men now need to build on that success with a turnaround in form in the Premier League, having managed just one win their last six games.
The reverse fixture, played at Anfield in August, had ended in a narrow 1-0 win for Liverpool, who were well past their best on the day. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the Premier League encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Brighton and Hove Albion
Chris Hughton does not have many pressing issues ahead of the visit of Liverpool. On Saturday, the Brighton and Hove Albion boss will only be without four first-team players, with half of these absentees being due to AFC Asian Cup commitments.
Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Mathew Ryan have made their way to UAE, to represent Iran and Australia, respectively in the month-long extravaganza. In addition to the duo, Bernardo (hamstring) and Jose Izquierdo (knee) are also unavailable, but are due to rejoin the squad at different stages of this month.
In Ryan’s absence, David Button will likely deputise in goal, just as he did against West Ham United last week. But, the Englishman will need to command his goal better, having disappointed somewhat against the Hammers. The back four, though, should feature most of Hughton’s first-choice men.
Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk, who should be the Brighton skipper on Saturday, have forged a strong central defensive partnership, with the duo also posing a major threat during set-piece situations. The full-backs are likely to be Martin Montoya and Gaetan Bong, who should take Bernardo’s place.
Meanwhile, Hughton has changed the shape of his midfield over the course of the season, with Pascal Gross playing a more withdrawn role as part of a five-man unit that aims to create overloads in the middle of the park. Dale Stephens and Davy Propper are certain starters in the central roles, while Solly March will man one of the wide slots.
March has been one of the best players for Brighton this season, and his creative spark will be key to the hosts’ prospects against Liverpool. On the left flank, Jurgen Locadia should be given the nod, while Glenn Murray is set to lead the line for the Seagulls.
Probable Lineup (4-5-1): Button; Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Bong; March, Gross, Stephens, Propper, Locadia; Murray
Jurgen Klopp has a major injury crisis on his hands ahead of the trip to Brighton. At the Amex Stadium on Saturday, the Liverpool manager could be without as many as seven first-team players, with defence being the major subject of concern.
Virgil van Dijk is the only recognised centre-back at Klopp’s disposal, with the Dutchman too, recovering from a bout of illness only recently. Meanwhile, Dejan Lovren (hamstring) and Joe Gomez (leg) will definitely miss out, while Joel Matip (shoulder) is a major doubt, having only returned to training on Thursday.
Klopp could throw the Cameroonian in the deep end straightaway. But, as he showed in his team selection against Wolves, Fabinho could be a possible option, if Matip is unable to prove his fitness ahead of the trip to Brighton. There are no concerns in the full-back slots though, with Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold likely to start.
If Fabinho indeed starts at the heart of the Liverpool defence, James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum should man the midfield pivot, with Jordan Henderson only likely to be fit enough to make the bench. The deployment of the midfield pivot means, Klopp will pick four attacking men.
With the need to swiftly return to winning ways being a pressing one, Xherdan Shaqiri, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino should all start, with Salah leading the line for Liverpool. Firmino will play the No. 10 role, where he is starting to settle, while Shaqiri and Mane will be the wide men.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Wijnaldum; Shaqiri, Firmino, Mane; Salah
1. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.72
2. Liverpool Asian Handicap – 1.5 @ 1.970
3. Liverpool Clean Sheet – NO @ 1.90
1. Glenn Murray to score anytime @ 4.00
- Liverpool have won all three of their Premier League meetings against Brighton and Hove Albion, scoring 10 times and conceding just once. In fact, Liverpool have never lost away at Brighton in the top flight, winning twice and drawing three times. Those five games have produced a total of 25 goals – 16 for the Reds and nine for the Seagulls.
- Brighton have scored a league-high 62.5% of their goals from set-pieces (including penalties) this season. But, Liverpool have conceded a league-low two goals from set-pieces.
- Brighton have lost just six of their 29 Premier League home matches, but five of those have come against the ‘Big Six’ sides.
- Liverpool will be aiming to avoid losing back-to-back Premier League games for the first time since 2015, when Brendan Rodgers was still in-charge of the Reds.
- Chris Hughton has lost all six of his previous Premier League games against Liverpool as a manager. Gary Megson is the only man with a worse record against the Reds.
Player to Watch
Glenn Murray did plunder in the goals for Brighton last season. But, the Seagulls’ success was largely built on the bullish runs of Pascal Gross, who took very little time to adjust to a league as tough as the Premier League. However, the “Second Season Syndrome” seems to have struck the German.
Numbers do paint a telling picture, with Gross managing to rake in just a solitary goal and two assists in 14 appearances this season, although injuries have played a part in his struggles as well. But, the player has always reveled in the biggest of games in the Premier League, and a top outing against one of his admirers could be just the way to signal a return to form.
Brighton and Hove Albion 1-2 Liverpool
After a brilliant first half of the Premier League campaign, the season is now threatening to spiral out of control. It is still not panic mode for the Reds, who are pretty much in control of the title race. But, a resolute Brighton side will be a tough test and Jurgen Klopp’s men will be desperate to end their mini losing run.
Indeed, the Seagulls seem to revel on the big stage, against the mightiest of teams. And, while they have only managed one win in their games against the ‘Big Six’ sides, Chris Hughton’s men have not been blown out of the park in any of the games, with Liverpool struggling to put them away at Anfield as well.
All things considered, this tie has all the makings to be a close affair, although a hurt Liverpool side could run riot, if they are in the mood. But, The Hard Tackle predicts a keenly contested game, albeit with the Reds returning to winning ways – we are going for a 2-1 victory for the Premier League leaders.