The Reds are matching Manchester City’s record-breaking 2017/18 side every step of the way this season. A win at Anfield on Saturday would take them to 40 points and they would join their rivals as the only teams to get there by the fourteenth-game mark in the Premier League. Liverpool are not playing with quite the same swagger as that Pep Guardiola team; City had scored forty-four and conceded only nine goals when they got there, but the mentality giants have been just as relentless in notching up result after result and would expect nothing short of a win against Brighton. The team from the south coast of England have never taken a point off the league leaders in the Premier League and Liverpool will be intent on keeping it that way.
The Seagulls have stumbled a bit recently and were well-beaten by Manchester United and Leicester City in their two previous fixtures, but the owners have realised that they are onto a good thing with manager, Graham Potter. His contract has been extended by a further two years, only six months after being appointed, and he is now tied to the club until 2025. The Englishman’s impact has been immediate at the club and he has brought in a style of play that has been embraced by the supporters. This game is a bit of a free-hit for his side even though there could be a further slide down the table towards the relegation zone if they lose and other results do not go their way. Given that they were eighth as recently as the first week of November, that would be disappointing but their fixtures do turn for the better in December. Potter will be motivated to get a result at Anfield though and will set his team up for a positive outcome.
- Mohamed Salah has scored in each of his last three appearances against Brighton and has a goal involvement in all four Premier League fixtures played between these two teams.
- At 31 matches, the Reds will equal their record for the longest unbeaten run in the league if they avoid defeat in this game.
- Liverpool last lost a league fixture against Brighton in 1982, when they lost 0-1 at Anfield. It remains the only top-flight game in which they have been beaten by the Seagulls.
With three goals and two assists in four games, the Egyptian has shown a particular fondness for this opponent. Salah has had an unusually subdued start to the season, compounded by the ankle injury suffered against Leicester in October. It is a testament to his influence that he still has six goals this season in the competition, but Liverpool’s talisman will be desperate to hit the heights of his two previous campaigns. Injury worries have not stopped him from attempting a league high 3.6 shots per game and Brighton’s goal will be constantly peppered.
Brighton will have a lot of defending to do on Saturday and the Australian goalkeeper will be a critical cog in the machine. Only Bernd Leno at Arsenal has more saves than the fifty that Ryan has had to make this season and that number will need to go up substantially if Brighton are to take anything from this game. Sixteen of those interventions have come in the last two games alone and the Seagulls faithful will be hoping that he maintains the same output while also managing to keep a clean-sheet. The keeper was unlucky to have a penalty save chalked off by VAR against Leicester due to player encroachment but will take a reasonable amount of confidence from his recent exertions into this fixture.
Fabinho limped out of the midweek fixture against Napoli but was suspended for this fixture anyway after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season at Selhurst Park. Joel Matip remains on the sidelines but Xherdan Shaqiri is available again after recovering from a calf injury and could make his first league appearance since September. Naby Keita could also return after falling ill before the game against Napoli.
Brighton will have their captain, Lewis Dunk, back after he served a one-match suspension against Leicester. It remains to be seen if Adam Webster or Shane Duffy will line up alongside him in the heart of defence. The Irishman offers an offensive aerial threat and the Reds have been susceptible at set-pieces of late. Aaron Connolly and Bernardo Fernandes could be back for this fixture but Jose Izquierdo remains a long-term absentee.
After putting nine goals past the Seagulls in the 2017-18 season, Liverpool could only eke out a couple of 1-0 wins last year. Chris Hughton’s side ceded possession and the Reds had 70% of the ball in both games. Graham Potter wants his team to have more possession and Brighton have not taken a backward step in any of their games against the top teams, including away at the Etihad in August. The Reds will enjoy seeing more space open up on the field than they are accustomed to against teams outside the top six and should win this game comfortably.
Liverpool 3 – Brighton 0