Brighton vs. Liverpool
| Saturday, December 1st |
Premier League | Falmer Stadium
3PM GMT/10AM EST
Before the season kicked off, many Liverpool fans would have pointed to December’s first match as one of the easiest of the first half of the season, with the newly promoted side the pick of most to head straight back down to the Championship at the first time of asking. So far, though, the Seagulls have outperformed expectations, currently sitting tenth—and level on points with ninth-place Leicester City.
They’re there on merit, with their -1 goal differential equal to the clubs on either side of them in the table. How they’ve earned that has been a little different from the sides around them, though, as they have been one of the stingiest outfits in the league while scoring just enough to get their share of results—they have the sixth best goals against record, letting in only one per game on average so far, and are the only side below Tottenham to have conceded less than 15 times.
On the flip side, of course, they’re only 12th in the goals-scored column, meaning that if Liverpool can get a goal or two past goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, they may have trouble getting themselves back into the game, even against Liverpool’s occasionally porous defence. The expectation, though, will be for an opponent that seeks to make the game long and difficult for the visiting Reds, and one whose record suggests they may be able to have some success at it.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Mignolet; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Klavan, Moreno; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Coutinho; Salah, Firmino, Mané
With Joe Gomez having played three games in a row, the young defender is first in line for a bit of rest and rotation tomorrow—if the fitness of others allow it. Joël Matip has been ruled out, and both Ragnar Klavan and Dejan Lovren have struggled with their fitness of late. If those two are fit, Gomez will sit and Trent Alexander-Arnold will come in on the left. If they aren’t, Gomez will have to play his fourth game in a row at centre half.
Further up the pitch, things seem a little more straightforward given all of Klopp’s most regular starters in recent months have had a game off over the past week and Adam Lallana—a player who would certainly be in line to start were he up to speed—had to sit out mid-week as he continues to return from a lengthy lay-off. He might make the bench again tomorrow, but a start isn’t likely, which largely clears up any selection questions.
There’s a chance Emre Can starts ahead of Henderson in midfield, but outside of that and given the rest players like Mané, Firmino, Salah, and Coutinho have been given over the last two games, the front six seems to just about pick itself.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jurgen Klopp: “Winning the games. We have to do that, that’s how it is. There should be no doubt about motivation, we know about our responsibility and want to achieve the maximum. The maximum this season, we will see what it is."
Chris Hughton: "You have to approach the game with their quality in mind. You only have to look at the goal-scoring individuals and the record they’ve got so you have to try and minimise the space they’ve got but also not sit back too much."
Referee: Graham Scott Assistants: Peter Kirkup and Richard West Fourth Official: Stuart Attwell
Kickoff is set for 3PM GMT/10AM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV. In the meantime, we'll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it's released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.