Who: Liverpool vs Brighton
When: Saturday, November 30th @ 10:00am ET
Line: Liverpool -560 | Draw +600 | Brighton +1700
Coming off a disappointing result at Anfield vs Napoli, Liverpool stay home this weekend to face mid-table Brighton & Hove Albion.
Oddsmakers view this as the biggest sure-thing of the week. The Reds are -560. They haven’t lost domestically at Anfield since April 2017. They’re not losing this one.
Still, Jurgen Klopp has some things to iron out with a squad that’s getting results in spite of lacking the cohesion and intensity they’ve reach the past couple of years.
Liverpool vs Brighton matchday 14 preview
There’s not much tactically to discuss here. Liverpool simply have much more talent. And they’re at home. Let’s focus on broader squad issues and storylines.
Liverpool likely starting XI
Entering this absolutely chaotic December slate of games, expect Klopp to start rotating the squad more. A home match against a mid-to-bottom table team offers him a chance to rest some of the regulars and keep them fresh for more critical matches [cough Salzburg cough].
First comes the midfield.
Even had Fabinho not gone down against Napoli with a potentially serious ankle injury, he’d still miss this game due to yellow card accumulation. Klopp has been dropping Adam Lallana deeper and letting him fill in the #6 role, and he seems a likely starter here. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain provided some spark off the bench against Napoli, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him on the team sheet this Saturday. Brighton are also prone to give up long-range goals. That’s Ox’s specialty.
Given fitness issues with Naby Keita (illness) and Xherdan Shaqiri (just getting back from injury), that final midfield spot likely goes to a regular. Gini Wijnaldum seems the most likely candidate.
Klopp has been willing to rotate his wing-backs this season. Trent Alexander-Arnold (inexplicably) got rest vs Napoli, so he’ll start. Andy Robertson had his poorest outing of the year against the Italians. Maybe he needs rest. If so, James Milner will fill in. Don’t expect Virgil van Dijk or Dejan Lovren to sit this one out. They won’t be challenged much regardless.
The front-line still isn’t firing on all cylinders. Mohamed Salah is working his ass off but has no end product to show for it. Sadio Mane has been the go-to scorer this campaign but has bouts of wastefulness. Roberto Firmino isn’t in his early season form. Klopp will give all three a chance to find their mojo against Brighton. If they go up 2 or 3 goals, he’ll rotate them out.
Expected starting XI: Alisson, TAA, Lovren, VVD, Milner, Ox, Lallana, Wijnaldum, Salah, Firmino, Mane
What to expect from Brighton
Well, if Brighton manager Graham Potter watched the Napoli match, he’s probably thinking, “Hell, let’s drop 8 players back and hope we get lucky on a counter or set piece.” It’s not the worst strategy.
Potter has Brighton playing above expectations again. They’re 12th in the table. Their underlying numbers suggest they’re every bit a mid-table team too. Brighton’s xPTS has them 10th. Potter deserves more credit than he receives.
However, they’ve been fortunate in how few goals they’re conceding. Brighton are giving up the 4th most xGA in the EPL.
Brighton try to hold possession with a lot of short passes, but much of that is in their own half. Against high pressing teams like Liverpool and Man City, that can be utter suicide.
They’re also going to face a very determined Liverpool squad that seems laser-focused on winning the Premier League this season (over anything and everything else). Klopp isn’t happy with the Napoli result. He knows the squad has to work on keeping clean sheets and finishing their opportunities. It would be very, very surprising to see a flat Liverpool side on Saturday.
It may be frustrating at times, but Liverpool will eventually break down a parked Brighton. Clean sheet, attacking front-three click again, leading to a 3-0 Liverpool win.
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