Verdict: Mohamed Salah to score
Best odds: 8/13
Liverpool are set to welcome Brighton and Hove Albion to Anfield on Saturday afternoon for what should be a very interesting match within the 10th round of the 2021-22 season in the Premier League.
Jurgen Klopp’s team have spilled a couple of points so far, but they remain the only unbeaten team in the Premier League this term, and that says a lot about the way they’ve been playing. It’s as if they are extremely keen to prove that the woes of last season, which still saw them finish third against all odds, were all down to the incredibly bad luck they had with injuries in the centre-back department.
Be that as it may, those dropped points are the reason why they sit second to Chelsea in the table with 21 to their name; the London Blues have 22. Defending champions Manchester City are directly below with 20, and then come West Ham in fourth with 17.
Manchester City are the only team to have faced Liverpool in the last six matches in all competitions the Reds have played and not lost. It was a thrilling 2-2 draw played right after Liverpool’s 1-5 win away to FC Porto in the Champions League, and it saw Pep Guardiola’s team come back twice to snatch a point at Anfield. Watford were thrashed at the Vicarage by 0-5 next, Atletico were beaten 2-3 in Madrid, Manchester United were completely humiliated at Old Trafford as their arch-rivals recorded another 0-5 victory, and on Wednesday, Liverpool’s completely rotated team knocked Preston North End out of the Carabao Cup with a 0-2 win away to the Championship side.
Klopp could welcome Thiago Alcantara into the squad for Saturday. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich midfielder only returned to full training on Thursday, however, and he might not be quite ready for 90 minutes so it’s more likely he’ll be named on the bench.
Thiago’s potential availability would certainly be a welcome piece of news for Klopp in light of several other injury issues in the middle of the park. James Milner (hamstring) is expected to be out until the next international break, Fabinho has a knee problem which makes him a doubt, and there is a question mark over Naby Keita’s involvement after a brutal foul which resulted in Manchester United’s Paul Pogba being sent off last week. Young Harvey Elliott remains out and won’t be back any time soon.
Alisson Becker will start in goal. Virgil van Dijk will command the back line, but it remains to be seen who lines up at his side. Ibrahima Konate got the nod ahead of Joel Matip and Old Trafford, and the two of them split the Preston match between them alongside Joe Gomez. There are no questions about Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson on the flanks, however, as well as Jordan Henderson who seems nailed on to start in the middle of the park. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be given a rare league start if Fabinho and Thiago aren’t fully fit, but young Curtis Jones has already shown he can be counted on.
Mohamed Salah is bound to be back in the lineup upfront as he aims to score in his 11th consecutive appearance and extend his lead as the league’s top scorer, but Klopp will have to choose two from the trio of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota to accompany the Egyptian.
Brighton and Hove Albion
The Seagulls have definitely been the surprise of the season so far. Having looked mostly content with avoiding relegation in previous campaigns, Graham Potter’s team now play highly dynamic football and they’ve shown an enviable level of consistency. At the moment, they are fifth with 15 points, ahead of the likes of Tottenham Hotspur (also 15 points), Manchester United, Everton, Leicester City and Arsenal (all on 14).
On the other hand, it could be argued that Brighton seem to be coming down in terms of recent form. They are without a win in their last five matches in all competitions, since they beat Swansea City 2-0 at home in the Carabao Cup back in September. They drew 1-1 away to Crystal Palace, 0-0 at home against Arsenal as well as away to bottom side Norwich City, lost at home to Manchester City by 1-4, and were eventually knocked out of the Carabao Cup on penalties by Leicester after a 2-2 draw.
But those things aside, Brighton come to Anfield feeling very little pressure. They will surely put in a great effort into the contest, but they aren’t likely to be too bothered if they find Liverpool at a full Anfield a bit too much for their quality. Anything that doesn’t qualify as a thrashing would surely be deemed acceptable by the club supporters. On the other hand, the players and the manager will be looking to exploit any weak link, however slight, in the machine that is the home team, to try and hurt them. It’s also worth noting that, following their elimination from the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, they have nothing at the moment to distract them from giving the Premier League their full attention.
Potter will be without the services of midfielders Steven Alzate, who has had ankle surgery and isn’t expected back before the end of the year, defender Ban Burn who has a knee injury, and forward Danny Welbeck, who’s had surgery to solve a thigh problem and will take time to recover. Midfielder Taylor Richards is a doubt due to some back pain he’s been struggling with, but he hasn’t been ruled out completely.
Robert Sanchez will return between the posts, and captain Lewis Dunk will be marshalling the three-man defence with Joel Veltman and probably Adam Webster instead of Burn. In-demand Yves Bissouma will likely try and hold the middle of the park, where he could be joined by Jakub Moder and former Liverpool man Adam Lallana. It will be interesting to see if Solly March keeps the place on the right flank now that Tariq Lamptey is fit an firing, with Marc Cucurella set to continue on the left. Upfront, in-form Neal Maupay should be joined by Leandro Trossard.
For all the success Brighton have enjoyed this season, including a very good second half in the defeat to Manchester City, Liverpool should be able to do enough to keep the three points to themselves as they strive to equal Manchester United’s tally of 20 league titles. But will Mo Salah score in his 11th consecutive appearance in all competitions?
Verdict: Mohamed Salah to score
Best odds: 8/13
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