Liverpool head to the American Express Community Stadium on Wednesday night to play their 34th game of the season against Brighton and Hove Albion. While the Reds will want to put in a good performance and hopefully break the streak of goal-less away games, the Seagulls will be playing to ensure continued Premier League survival.
Not that it is threatened a lot. At the start of the 34th matchday, Brighton are nine points clear of the relegation zone. This is the furthest they have been from the drop zone all season. Their form after the restart has been good enough to suggest that Graham Potter’s team will have a relatively comfortable end to the league, despite their run-in including Liverpool on Wednesday and Manchester City on Saturday. Having said that, they will want to cash in on Liverpool’s poor away form and try to put more distance between them and the relegation scrap at the bottom.
For the champions Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp, it is more about making sure that the players keep their feet grounded despite achieving the dizzying heights they have achieved this season. While the last away game to Manchester City served as a sobering reminder, their inability to breach Aston Villa’s defence till quite late in the game on Sunday evening was also uncharacteristic of the swagger they have displayed at home thus far. Klopp will want his team to do well on Wednesday, not just to achieve a couple of more records. He will want his team to win, so that the players do not forget what it is to string together a bunch of wins and also ensure that Liverpool signal their intent for the next season as well.
- Brighton have won two of their four Premier League games since the restart (D1 L1), as many as they had in their previous 18 (W2 D8 L8). The Seagulls are looking to pick up back-to-back wins in the competition for the first time since November.
- But against Liverpool, that task might take some doing. Brighton have lost each of their last eight meetings with Liverpool in all competitions including all five games in the Premier League.
- But in their current form, Liverpool might not be as big a threat. The champions have failed to score in any of their last five away matches in all competitions (D1 L4) – they are without a goal in their last seven hours and 42 minutes away from home. Only once in their history have the Reds gone more away games without a goal (8 games in April 1992).
- Despite that sort of current form, Liverpool are on the verge of another record. Liverpool have won 29 of their 33 Premier League games this season – should they beat Brighton on Wednesday night, they will have reached 30 wins in a season faster than any team in the history of English league football, with Manchester City holding the record (35 games) since 2017-18.
- Moreover, Liverpool are unbeaten in six of their top-flight away games against Brighton (W3 D3), with both teams finding the net in five of those six meetings.
Brighton have scored 35 goals this season, the same as they scored in the whole season last season and one more than they scored in their debut season in the Premier League in 2017-18. The key player who has contributed to almost 1/3rd of those goals is Neal Maupay, who has scored 9 and assisted 2 goals for a total of 11 goals contributed. At an xG90 of 0.47 and xA90 of 0.07, Maupay’s probability of contributing a goal, assuming he plays 90 minutes, is 54%. It is clear that for Brighton to have any hope of winning any points on Wednesday, they need Maupay to fire.
In the overall attacking stats for Liverpool (72 goals scored), Firmino’s record this season is an enigma. The Brazilian has scored only 8 goals (7 assists), but going by xG (15.82), he should have scored 16 goals already. Firmino has not scored any goal at Anfield this season. Away from home, Firmino has been scoring a goal every 170 minutes. But even that form has dried up in the recent away games. A visit to Amex Stadium is a good opportunity for the Brazilian to shrug his poor scoring form.
For Brighton boss Graham Potter, there are no fresh injury concerns other than Jose Izquierdo, who remains sidelined and possibly Steven Alzate who will be assessed before the game. However, Potter can call upon a strong XI to host the champions and hope that they will put some more daylight between his team and the relegation fight.
For Liverpool, James Milner is a doubt for Liverpool, so too is Dejan Lovren, but Joel Matip will miss the rest of the season. Although Neco Williams and Curtis Jones, both made substitute appearances in the win against Aston Villa at Anfield, the latter having scored the 2nd goal, Klopp has been emphatic in saying that he will not hand out Premier League starts as Christmas presents. Given his side’s busy fixture list, he might rotate a bit and Takumi Minamino, Georgino Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino could come into the XI.
Despite Liverpool’s recent away form, they would still be favorites to win on Wednesday night. Klopp’s men might struggle a little to overcome their hosts, but as they showed in their late win against Aston Villa, they retain their hunger for wins.
Brighton 1 – 2 Liverpool