Liverpool vs Brighton and Hove Albion
Referee: Martin Atkinson
League leaders Liverpool host Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday afternoon after a mixed week for both teams.
The Merseysiders laboured to a draw against Napoli in the Champions League, leaving them needing a positive result from their tricky away trip to Salzburg in order to qualify for the knockout stages. Brighton in the meantime were celebrating manager Graham Potter’s contract renewal until 2025 after a solid start to the Seagulls’ season.
Last season, both league fixtures between the two sides were settled by 1-0 scorelines with Mo Salah securing the points for the Reds on both occasions. The same scoreline would surely be welcomed by Jurgen Klopp, whose team have not kept a clean sheet since September, and not kept one at Anfield all season.
The major difference between Liverpool of this season and Liverpool of last season has been the defensive frailty. Even with Alisson returning in between the sticks in October, he has not kept a clean sheet yet this season. He will not get many better opportunities to get off the mark against a side who have scored half the amount of goals as Liverpool have thus far.
Brighton themselves have undergone a change in approach this season. Potter has brought in a more free-flowing style of football this season at the Amex Stadium, and the Seagulls will be looking to end November with a positive result after losing both of their last two Premier League fixtures against Manchester United and Leicester.
Brighton have become a tricky team to break down this season, and Liverpool will need to improve on Wednesday’s performance at both ends of the pitch if they are to avoid an uncomfortable Saturday afternoon on Merseyside.
Liverpool were rocked by the injury of Fabinho on Wednesday night and the Brazilian is now set to miss the next eight weeks of action following ankle ligament damage. Expect Gini Wijnaldum to drop back into the defensive midfield role with the in-form Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain set to come in. Joel Matip remains injured, while Xherdan Shaqiri and Naby Keita are also yet to return to full fitness.
Potter will be delighted that Lewis Dunk will return to the heart of the Brighton defence. He will be equally delighted to welcome back Aaron Connolly, pending a late fitness test. The young Irish striker has enjoyed a rapid rise into the first team this season, and Potter will be fully aware that they have a real talent on their hands.
Predicted Starting XIs
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Brighton (4-5-1): Ryan; Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Webster, Burn; Mooy, Stephens, Propper, Trossard; Maupay
Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Brighton
The last team anyone wants to face right now is Liverpool – especially at Anfield. The unbeaten home Premier League record extends all the way back to April 2017, and Brighton will have to be at their resolute best to get anything from this. Will Liverpool finally keep a clean sheet?