After what seemed like a very long break, Premier League action returns this weekend as high-flying Brighton & Hove Albion face Liverpool. Brighton will look to start their Roberto De Zerbi era with a win against Jurgen Klopp’s men at Anfield and consolidate their position in the top 4. Liverpool on the other hand will try to overturn their slow start to the season and look to get back into the title race.
Brighton comes off a 5-2 demolition of Leicester City, Potter’s last match in charge, whereas Liverpool are back in action after their hard-fought win in the Champions League against Ajax. Can De Zerbi establish his credentials in the Premier League with a famous win at Anfield or will Klopp look to take advantage of the change in managers at Brighton to get Liverpool back on track?
WHEN AND WHERE?
When: Saturday 1st October 2022.
Kick-off: 3 pm UK.
Referee: Andy Madley.
Assistant Referee: Derek Eaton, Steve Meredith.
Fourth Official: Tony Harrington.
VAR: Simon Hooper.
Assistant VAR: Darren Cann.
Liverpool are beginning to see their squad back to full strength with only Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita out for the long term. Henderson has featured as a substitute for the England National Team and Curtis Jones is expected to take up a spot on the bench following the international break.
Fabio Carvalho and Andy Roberston, who missed Liverpool’s last match against Ajax, might feature after the two-week break but Klopp will be tempted to go with an unchanged lineup from their 2-1 win.
De Zerbi has an almost full-strength squad to choose from for his first Premier League match as manager as Adam Lallana and Jakub Moder are the only players ruled out of the game against Liverpool. It remains to be seen whether he’ll play the same set of players from their 5-2 thumping of Leicester.
Liverpool’s struggles have been well documented this season as they find themselves 8th in the Premier League table, 9 points off leaders Arsenal albeit having played one match less. The return of Thiago and Jota inspired them to a 2-1 win against Ajax despite not being at their best
Most of Liverpool’s struggles this season have come from a dysfunctional midfield. Liverpool have looked open when their moves have broken down in the opposition half as they haven’t been able to shut down the opposition. Their ineffectiveness in closing down opposition combined with their high line meant opposition teams have been able to easily get away shots when they regain possession.
However, Klopp has most of his players back from injury and they might be able to turn around their slow start. Thiago and Jota are welcome additions as Liverpool looked much better in their win against Ajax. As De Zerbi’s teams like to build attacks from deep, Liverpool’s front three are crucial in cutting off passing lanes for progression from the first defensive line and forcing turnovers. Brighton’s centre-backs are not the most athletic defenders and this is something Liverpool will try to exploit
De Zerbi likes to overload the first defensive line to bait the opposition press and quickly attack the space vacated behind. He is equally comfortable at switching between a 2-man and 3-man build-up based on the opposition’s press. As other teams in the Premier League have shown, Liverpool are not the same team from the seasons before, and hence the bait and attack method can be an effective tactic.
Brighton’s midfield duo of Mac Alister and Caicedo will be key in providing options for progression for the defenders and recycling possession to attract the Liverpool press. De Zerbi has also shown flexibility in playing the fullbacks both wide and inverted.
Veltman will be key as he can drop off to overload the defensive line and can also play as an inverted FB. Estupinan will likely start as the LWB as he is adept at maintaining width and March/Lamptey can act as the RWB. Gross and Trossard can act as the narrow wingers if Brighton decide to play with wide full-backs. Welbeck will lead the line and remains the lynchpin of Brighton’s offense.
Liverpool must look to contain Welbeck as he is often Brighton’s focal point in the final third, effective at holding play and also running the channels to create space for the narrow wingers to attack. As the loss against Fulham showed, Brighton do not have a proven replacement for Welbeck and looked blunt in attack against the Londoners.
Liverpool’s midfield has looked lost when they do not have Thiago. He will add progressive passing and better control of the match to enable Liverpool to sustain their attacks for longer. Liverpool’s midfielders often pushed higher to win the ball back which left Fabinho and the backline exposed when they failed to win the ball. But Thiago is smart in deciding when to drop off to help Fabinho and when to push forward to press. His press resistance also allows him to get passes off to the free man enabling them to speed up their attack.
Liverpool predicted lineup vs Brighton: Allison; Trent-Alexander Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Elliot, Thiago; Salah, Jota, Diaz.
Brighton predicted lineup vs Liverpool: Sanchez; Veltman, Dunk, Webster; March, Caicedo, Mac Alister,Estupinan; Gross, Welbeck, Trossard.