Brighton’s willingness to take chances in possession, bait the opponent to press them and then play directly in behind into space should make this a high-event match with plenty of chances at both ends of the pitch. Given Liverpool’s defensive struggles and injury situation, Brighton are undervalued as this match should be closer to a tossup. Brighton Still Firing Offensively Brighton hired De Zerbi to replace the departing Graham Potter in early October. The Seagulls have averaged 1. 58 xG per 90 in 11 matches in the league since De Zerbi became manager. The Seagulls’ defense has taken a step back too — they’re conceding 1.
All of the top eight teams in the Premier League face off against one another this weekend, and it’s quite surprising that Liverpool are in seventh in the middle of January. The Reds lost to Brentford last week, tied 2-2 against Wolves in the FA Cup and continue to have major defensive woes. They will be tested away from home on Saturday when they visit the English south coast to take on Brighton and Hove Albion. The Seagulls trucked Everton 4-1 in the league and then beat Middlesbrough 5-1 in the FA Cup as they continue their elite goal scoring form under new manager Roberto De Zerbi.
Liverpool Still Out of Form and Searching For Answers Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat at the Brentford Community Stadium last week showcased everything that is wrong with the current iteration of the Reds. The set piece defending was poor and has been all season. Liverpool are 18th in the league in xG per set piece allowed, 11th in crosses allowed into the box, 11th in big scoring chances conceded and the Reds are quite vulnerable in transition. Brentford exposed all of those weaknesses. They scored in transition, from a set piece and a cross. The Reds were unfortunate to not score more themselves and the attack remains mostly fine, but Liverpool’s defense is showing no sign of improvement. The Reds added Cody Gakpo from PSV Eindhoven — he’s a good player but not a superstar by any stretch — but the injuries around the squad are mounting.
40 xGA per match in the same timespan. They have played five matches against Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal and Chelsea in all competitions and scored 12 goals in those matches. Brighton are more than capable of beating this Liverpool defense that has been below average in the league this year. De Zerbi plays a double pivot and likes to use conservative possession in their own half to entice the opponents to press them. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has set up the Reds to press as high as any team in the world, and that will lead to some high Brighton turnovers but also lead to space for Kauro Mitoma and the Seagulls to run at the Reds’ vulnerable back line.