Verdict: Both teams to score
Best odds: 11/20
Liverpool will be travelling to face Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex on Saturday afternoon in what promises to be an interesting encounter.
Despite the difference in the world-wide reputation between these teams, Brighton have rarely been an easy opponent for Liverpool. In fact, the Merseysiders won only one of their last five league encounters, with Brighton also winning one and three endings with the points shared.
We’re almost halfway through the season in the Premier League, and with 17 matches played each, Brighton and Liverpool are much closer together in the Premier League table than any Liverpool fan would have hoped for at this point.
Brighton and Hove Albion
Many things have happened this season involving Brighton. Graham Potter built a very formidable team at the Amex which entered the campaign strongly, but he left to join Chelsea in early September and Roberto De Zerbi has been commanding the Brighton ranks since. Another big blow for the club was the forced retirement of Enock Mwepu, after the 24-year-old midfielder was diagnosed with a heart condition which made it advisable for him to stop playing football immediately.
A more recent but very historic moment for the club was midfielder Alexis Mac Allister returning from Qatar as a world champion, after playing a highly significant role in Argentina’s run towards their third World Cup. This, of course, has brought the 24-year-old into the spotlight and a number of top clubs across Europe are believed to be interested in his services. The same goes for Moises Caicedo, who also played well representing Ecuador at the tournament in Qatar.
As for Brighton’s position in the Premier League table, they are eighth with 27 points. Chelsea are one of the two teams breathing down Brighton’s neck, sitting eighth with 25 points, and with Brentford in between on 26.
The Seagulls have been on a mixed run of form recently. Their last-six run in all competitions includes a 2-2 draw away to Aston Villa, a goalless draw and penalty shootout loss to Charlton Athletic in the Carabao Cup, a 1-3 win away to Southampton, a 2-4 home defeat to league leaders Arsenal, a 1-4 triumph away to Everton, and a 1-5 win over Middlesbrough in the FA Cup.
De Zerbi will obviously be thrilled to have Mac Allister back, but the midfield section will be without Jakub Moder, who is expected to miss a further month through a knee injury. Winger Leandro Trossard, who played a brilliant match against Liverpool at Anfield earlier this season, is a doubt as he works on his recovery from a calf problem.
Robert Sanchez will be in goal, with captain Luis Dunk and Levi Collwil ahead of him, and Joel Veltman and Pervis Estupinan covering the defensive flanks. Pascal Gross and Caicedo are expected to pair up in the middle of the park, with Mac Allister a bit further up. Striker Evan Ferguson is likely to lead the line again, supported by Solly March and Kaoru Mitoma from wide positions.
The likes of Tariq Lamptey and former Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana will also be hoping to be involved.
After a hugely disappointing couple on months, Liverpool appeared to be on the right track again as they won four league games on the trot, but familiar woes have struck since and they are once more struggling get themselves in order. They are now winless in their last three matches, but the run of six probably paints a better picture overall.
At the moment in includes a 3-1 home win over Southampton, a 3-2 loss away to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup, a 1-3 win away to Aston Villa, a 2-1 home win over Leicester City, a 3-1 defeat away to Brentford, and a 2-2 draw at home against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup which will see a replay being played at the Molineux next week.
With 28 points to their name, Liverpool are currently seventh in the Premier League table after Fulham bagged an unlikely victory over Chelsea on Thursday, though they have two games in hand on the Cottagers. The Merseysiders finishing in the top four and qualifying for next season’s Champions League appears less likely with each passing week – Manchester United, their arch-rivals, are fourth at the moment with a seven-point advantage.
The biggest news at Liverpool at the moment is the arrival of winger Cody Gakpo from PSV Eindhoven at the turn of the year. The 23-year-old Netherlands international made his debut against Wolves in the FA Cup.
With Luis Diaz (knee) and Diogo Jota (calf) still out of action, Gakpo is likely to start on the left again, with Mohamed Salah on the other side. Things may have gotten a bit worse on that front, though, with Darwin Nunez not featuring in any of the Thursday training photo, but for the time being, no injury has been confirmed for the Uruguayan striker. Roberto Firmino isn’t fully fit yet following a calf issue, but he could be involved.
The same goes for veteran midfielder James Milner, while Juventus loanee Arthur Melo remains out (both hamstring). Manager Jurgen Klopp will surely have a few calls to make in midfield, and after a couple of bright cameos, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Naby Keita start with Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara.
The biggest injury blow at the moment is the absence of Virgil van Dijk (hamstring), which leaves Ibrahima Konate and Joel Matip as the likeliest centre-back pairing, though Joe Gomez is an option too. Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold will be covering the fullback positions, and Alisson Becker will surely keep his place between the posts despite a bad, costly blunder against Wolves.
With two forwards out and another two marked as doubts, Liverpool will probably struggle to score unless Salah can whip something up out of nowhere; it certainly wouldn’t be the first time. However, Brighton will surely be aware of that and they’ll want to focus on stopping the Egyptian first, and then Gakpo as well.
Nonetheless, Liverpool will probably find a way to put the ball in the net once at least. But unless they improve their defending many times over compared to what happened in some of the previous games, they will concede as well.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best odds: 11/20
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