Sports Mole previews Wednesday’s Premier League clash between Liverpool and Brighton & Hove Albion, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
After a miserable post-Christmas slump which saw Liverpool’s only win in seven attempts come against Aston Villa’s youngsters in the FA Cup, the champions now look to be finding their form again.
Last week was a good one for Jurgen Klopp‘s side as they responded to being knocked out of the FA Cup by bitter rivals Manchester United with back-to-back league wins in London.
A 3-1 triumph over Tottenham handed them their first league win and first league goals of 2021, and crucially they then followed that up with a similarly impressive triumph over an in-form West Ham side.
The goal drought and winless run appear to have ended just in time with a mouth-watering tussle against leaders Manchester City looming on Sunday, but Klopp will know that his side cannot afford to think about that showdown until after they have come up against Brighton.
The Reds still have their home form to fix too; after winning 32 of 33 league outings at Anfield, Liverpool now find themselves without victory in any of their last three, taking just two points from games against West Bromwich Albion, Manchester United and Burnley.
The latter result saw their history-making 68-match unbeaten home league run come to an end as Burnley stunned the champions with a smash-and-grab 1-0 win, and if Brighton are able to do similar then it would be the first time Liverpool have lost consecutive league games at Anfield since September 2012.
Indeed, Liverpool have not even scored at Anfield so far this calendar year, drawing blanks against Man United and Burnley, and they now risk going three home league games in a row without finding the back of the net for the first time since October 1984.
Only once before has that fate ever befallen a reigning Premier League champion – Manchester United in 2001-02 – but Brighton’s recent form makes it a very real possibility on Wednesday.
The Seagulls have kept clean sheets in each of their last three league outings and could keep four in a row for the first time since November, and for the first time ever in the top flight.
Graham Potter‘s side have won two of those games 1-0 to build a seven-point buffer between themselves and the relegation zone, most recently overcoming Spurs at the Amex on Sunday night.
That scoreline flattered Tottenham more than it did Brighton, who picked up their first home league win since June and made it just one defeat in their last seven outings across all competitions, with that loss being a narrow 1-0 reverse away to Manchester City too.
Prior to the Spurs win, each of Brighton’s last five top-flight victories had come on their travels, and they have fared better away from home than they have at the Amex this season.
Of course, a trip to Anfield is a different proposition than most other away games in the Premier League, but Burnley’s win there last month may have punctured some of the aura of invincibility that had been built up around the place, while the manner of Brighton’s win over Spurs should also give them confidence.
History is not on the visitors’ side, though; Brighton have lost all seven of their previous away games against reigning top-flight champions by an aggregate score of 19-2, while you have to go back to March 1982 for their only ever league win at Anfield.
Indeed, Brighton have not beaten Liverpool home or away in any competition since January 1984, losing 10 times and drawing twice in that period, although one of those draws did come in the reverse fixture as Pascal Gross rescued a point in stoppage time through a controversial penalty.
Liverpool Premier League form: DLDLWW
Liverpool form (all competitions): WDLLWW
Brighton & Hove Albion Premier League form: LDLWDW
Brighton & Hove Albion form (all competitions): WLWWDW
Liverpool are once again expected to be without Sadio Mane for this match after he missed out against West Ham due to a slight muscle problem.
The winger is not expected to face a long spell on the sidelines, but the quick turnaround in fixtures, coupled with Man City coming up at the weekend, means that Klopp will not want to take any risks over his fitness.
The champions have bolstered their defensive ranks with the deadline-day additions of Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak, but Nat Phillips‘s impressive outings recently could mean that he keeps his spot alongside Jordan Henderson, allowing Klopp to ease his new arrivals into his plans more.
Fabinho will again miss out but could be back in time for the Man City game, while Joel Matip has been ruled out for the rest of the season with ankle ligament damage and Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Diogo Jota also remain sidelined.
Mohamed Salah was the star of the show with a brace against the Hammers, ending a six-game goal drought in the Premier League and becoming the first Liverpool player since Ian Rush to reach the 20-goal mark in four successive seasons.
The Premier League’s top scorer has a formidable record against Brighton too, directly contributing to nine goals in seven meetings at a rate of 63 minutes per goal involvement.
Brighton are again expected to be without Danny Welbeck, who won the controversial penalty which earned the Seagulls a point in the reverse fixture, due to a knee injury, although he could be back in time for the weekend.
Tariq Lamptey, Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Florin Andone are also still absent, while Joel Veltman and Alexis Mac Allister both picked up relatively minor muscle issues against Spurs and will be assessed.
Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Henderson, Robertson; Thiago, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Jones; Firmino, Salah
Brighton & Hove Albion possible starting lineup:
Sanchez; White, Dunk, Webster; Veltman, Gross, Bissouma, March; Tau, Trossard; Maupay
We say: Liverpool 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
This will not be an easy game for Liverpool and, even considering their return to form over the past week, it is a potential banana skin ahead of the Man City showdown at the weekend.
Brighton will arrive at Anfield in fine form and knowing that Liverpool’s long unbeaten run there is over, and if they can reproduce their performance from Sunday on Wednesday then they stand a good chance of getting something from the game.
However, Brighton’s style could end up playing into Liverpool’s hands and we expect the champions to have enough to make it three wins on the bounce in midweek.
Top betting tip
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