Liverpool will aim to keep the pressure on Premier League table-toppers Manchester City when they take on Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex on Saturday.
Gameweek 29 of the 2021/22 Premier League season gets underway less than two days after the end of the previous round of fixtures. The action begins at the Amex Stadium on Saturday afternoon, with Brighton & Hove Albion playing hosts to Liverpool in the lunchtime kick-off.
Brighton & Hove Albion were the surprise package in the first half of the 2021/22 Premier League season, as it looked like they had an outside chance of clinching a European spot. But their form has subsided lately, and the Seagulls are currently on a run of four successive top-flight defeats. Such a run has dropped them to 13th on the table, although a relegation scrap is highly unlikely.
On the other hand, Liverpool’s campaign has turned for the better in the new year, with the Reds only suffering their first loss of 2022 earlier this week. Before the inconsequential defeat to Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League, the Reds had been on a 15-game unbeaten run, which has partly helped them bridge the gap to Manchester City in the Premier League standings.
The reverse fixture was an engaging affair, as Brighton & Hove Albion came from two goals down to hold Liverpool to a 2-2 draw at Anfield back in October. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Brighton & Hove Albion
"Enock's trained this week.
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) March 10, 2022
Graham Potter does not have any new injury concern hampering his preparations ahead of the visit of Liverpool. On Saturday, the Brighton & Hove Albion manager will be bereft of the services of just one first-team player, with Adam Webster nursing a groin injury.
Jeremy Sarmiento (thigh) and Enock Mwepu (hamstring) are closing in on returning to action. As per Potter during his pre-match press conference, Mwepu has resumed full training and will soon be in contention to feature in the starting eleven again. But the Brighton boss will likely ease the duo back into the thick of the action.
Webster’s continued absence means Shane Duffy retains his spot in the central defensive unit. The veteran centre-back will line up alongside Joel Veltman and captain Lewis Dunk, with the trio covering Robert Sanchez in the Brighton goal against Liverpool.
The 3-5-2 has once again become the preferred formation for Potter, and the three central midfielders will have the onus on them to keep things tight in the middle of the park. The creative responsibility will rest on the shoulders of the two wing-backs.
Tariq Lamptey and Marc Cucurella will provide the width higher up the pitch, with the duo in charge of whipping in dangerous crosses in the Liverpool box. Neal Maupay is on the cusp of making history at Brighton, meaning he should start on Saturday, with Leandro Trossard likely to get the nod over Danny Welbeck for the other striker’s berth.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Sanchez; Veltman, Dunk, Duffy; Lamptey, Moder, Bissouma, Gross, Cucurella; Trossard, Maupay
Unlike his counterpart in the Brighton & Hove Albion dugout, Jurgen Klopp has been handed a blow on the team news front ahead of the trip to the Amex Stadium. The Liverpool boss could be without a few first-team players on Saturday.
Klopp revealed in his pre-match press conference that a few issues with COVID-19 have hit his squad. Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konate, and Thiago Alcantara have missed training ahead of the game, and the trio will likely miss out against Brighton. But there is some good news, as Roberto Firmino is in contention to feature after regaining full fitness.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 11, 2022
But Firmino will likely be eased back into the thick of the action, with the Brazilian expected to secure his first start since recovering from his injury after the international break. But he could be in line for an appearance off the bench, along with Diogo Jota. That means Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Luis Diaz should form the attacking trifecta for Liverpool.
A few changes are in the offing behind the three attackers, with Jordan Henderson among those set to return. The Liverpool captain will likely line up alongside Fabinho and Naby Keita in the middle of the park, with Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott backup midfield options.
If van Dijk has indeed tested positive for COVID-19, Joe Gomez will make a rare start in the Premier League. The Englishman will then pair up with Joel Matip at the heart of the Liverpool defence, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson the two full-backs. There is no looking past Alisson Becker in the Liverpool goal.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Gomez, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Keita; Salah, Mane, Diaz
- Brighton & Hove Albion are unbeaten in their last three Premier League meetings with Liverpool (W1 D2). However, the Reds have not lost in eight top-flight trips to Brighton (W4 D4), a record for the most away games without losing against a particular opponent.
- Brighton have just one win from their last nine games in all competitions and have suffered four consecutive Premier League defeats. They could lose five top-flight fixtures in a row for the first time since May 1982. The Seagulls have scored once and conceded nine in their last four matches.
- Liverpool are on a seven-game winning run in the Premier League, scoring 19 goals and conceding twice. The Reds are two goals shy of becoming the second club to score 2,000 in the Premier League, emulating Manchester United.
- Neal Maupay is one goal away from overtaking Glenn Murray as Brighton’s record Premier League scorer with 27 goals.
- Mohamed Salah has been involved in ten goals in nine Premier League appearances against Brighton, averaging a goal or an assist every 75 minutes. Salah needs one goal to reach 20 in the Premier League for the fourth time in his career.
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2021/22 has ended up becoming a difficult season for Roberto Firmino, who was already looking over his shoulder due to the advent of Diogo Jota last season. Luis Diaz’s immediate impact at Liverpool is unlikely to help matters for the Brazilian, especially as he gets set to enter the final year of his contract.
While widespread reports have claimed that Liverpool should hand Firmino a new contract, he will need to deliver between now and the end of the season to ensure he retains his place as a key figure for the Reds. A bright cameo against Brighton should help matters to that end for him.
Brighton & Hove Albion 1-3 Liverpool
Saturday’s game should be a keenly-contested affair between Liverpool and Brighton & Hove Albion, especially if Virgil van Dijk is unavailable. The Reds have shown a soft underbelly in the absence of the colossal Dutchman, and the hosts should take advantage if he is unavailable.
But Liverpool’s attacking output has largely been at its efficient best lately, and Mohamed Salah should be in a menacing mood at the Amex Stadium after Liverpool’s midweek defeat to Inter Milan. The Hard Tackle predicts the game to be even in the first half before the visitors take control and clinch a 3-1 win after the break.