Saturday, April 13, 2024

Prediction: Liverpool vs Brighton and Hove Albion

Verdict: Total home goals over 2.5

Best odds: 10/11

Bookmaker: BetUS

In light of Xabi Alonso confirming his decision not to leave Bayer Leverkusen at the end of the season, Liverpool are reportedly considering Roberto De Zerbi as a candidate to replace Jurgen Klopp in the Anfield dugout, and the prospect of the Italian moving there from Brighton and Hove Albion adds intrigue to the Premier League clash between the two teams on Sunday.

A win would take Liverpool back to the top of the table, if only for a few hours as title rivals Manchester City and Arsenal face each other shortly afterwards. Every point out for grabs is crucial for Brighton too as they fight to make back-to-back appearances in Europe.

Liverpool

Since Klopp’s surprising resignation announcement in January, Liverpool fans have been eagerly anticipating Xabi Alonso’s potential arrival. However, the club is now facing the likelihood of missing out on the Bayer Leverkusen manager, who has expressed his intention to stay with the Bundesliga leaders for another season.

As Fenway Sports Group, led by former Liverpool director Michael Edwards in his new role as CEO of Football, explore alternative options, Liverpool must focus on crucial matters on the field following the international break. Their hopes of securing a quadruple were dashed after a dramatic 4-3 defeat to Manchester United in the FA Cup quarterfinals.

Klopp’s farewell parade may now consist of winning three trophies instead of four, an impressive achievement nonetheless, and Liverpool have the opportunity to reclaim the top spot in the league. A draw against Brighton would be enough to surpass Arsenal before they face Manchester City.

March was marked by disappointment for Liverpool, highlighted by a controversial 1-1 draw with City, where a potential penalty was overlooked for a high boot challenge from Jeremy Doku on Alexis Mac Allister. Despite this setback, Liverpool’s remarkable unbeaten streak at Anfield continues, spanning 26 straight top-flight games since their loss to Leeds United 17 months ago. Additionally, all of Liverpool’s home victories this season have seen them score at least twice.

Team News

Most of Liverpool’s injured players are unlikely to return for Sunday’s game, with Stefan Bajcetic (calf), Joel Matip (knee), Ben Doak (knee), Thiago Alcantara (muscle), Diogo Jota (knee), Trent Alexander-Arnold (knee), and Alisson Becker (hamstring) all confirmed to be sidelined.

The international break also brought further setbacks for the Merseysiders, as Andrew Robertson suffered an ankle injury while on duty with Scotland. However, the problem appears to be a minor one, and he has not been ruled out for Sunday’s game yet. Curtis Jones is also uncertain due to a shin injury.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Joe Gomez fill in at left-back for the upcoming match. Darwin Nunez should recover from a thigh injury sustained in the cup loss to Manchester United. Additionally, Cody Gakpo, Luis Diaz, and Ibrahima Konate have overcome their concerns and represented their respective countries during the break.

Brighton and Hove Albion

With Xabi Alonso out of contention for the Liverpool managerial role, Brighton head coach De Zerbi is rumored to be one of two fallback options for the Reds, along with Sporting Lisbon’s Ruben Amorim. A victory against Liverpool could potentially boost his chances of landing the job at Anfield.

Throughout the 2023/24 season, De Zerbi’s abilities have been questioned as Brighton struggled to find consistency while juggling Europa League and Premier League fixtures. However, they managed to secure their first successive wins of 2024 just before the international break. A 1-0 victory over Nottingham Forest in the Premier League was followed by another 1-0 win against Roma in the Europa League, albeit as a consolation after a 4-0 defeat in the first leg.

With their European aspirations now dashed, Brighton can fully focus on their Premier League campaign. Currently sitting in eighth place with a game in hand, they are still aiming for a top-seven finish to secure European football for next season.

Despite their recent unbeaten run, Brighton fans may be concerned about De Zerbi’s away record against the top 10 teams, as he has only managed to secure five points from 33 available against higher-ranked opponents. However, they will arrive at Anfield with confidence, boasting a four-match unbeaten streak against Liverpool, potentially adding to De Zerbi’s appeal to his potential future employers.

Team News

The trio of long-term absentees, including Solly March (knee), Jack Hinshelwood (foot), and Kaoru Mitoma (back), will continue their rehabilitation in the medical department for the foreseeable future.

Additionally, doubts surround the availability of former Liverpool man James Milner and Joao Pedro due to thigh issues, while Julio Enciso is gradually regaining fitness and saw 53 minutes of action in the recent victory over Roma.

Given the success against Roma, De Zerbi is likely to maintain the existing lineup, with Adam Lallana, another ex-Red, expected to retain his position in the starting XI.

Conclusion

Sunday’s game may not exclusively determine De Zerbi’s candidacy for the Liverpool job, but his track record away from home against top-half Premier League teams is concerning. Despite recent success against Liverpool, the timing of the break favors the hosts.

In such circumstances, Liverpool should be able to secure a convincing victory and reclaim the top spot in the league standings, at least temporarily.

Verdict: Total home goals over 2.5

Best odds: 10/11

Bookmaker: BetUS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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