Liverpool know that a draw at home to Brighton on Sunday will secure a top-four finish, as the Reds aim to end their Premier League season unbeaten at Anfield.
Liverpool vs. Brighton
Sunday, May 13, 2018 – 3pm (BST)
Referee: Kevin Friend
Liverpool rarely do things the easy way.
This time last month, it looked as though Jurgen Klopp‘s side were cruising to a place in next season’s Champions League, but ironically, the competition itself has seen the Reds switch off domestically.
They have managed just one win in their last five league outings, and with Chelsea finding form and winning five of their last six, the job is not done yet.
Huddersfield’s draw with the Blues on Wednesday helped enormously, preventing Antonio Conte’s men going level on points with Liverpool. The west Londoners must now win at Newcastle United this weekend and hope Brighton claim three points at Anfield.
The Seagulls have enjoyed a highly impressive first season in the Premier League, avoiding relegation and playing some good football along the way.
Liverpool will be hoping their opponents are already mentally ‘on the beach’ when the two sides meet, but they will pose a threat.
Anthony Knockaert and Jose Izquierdo possess pace and trickery on the counter-attack, Pascal Gross is an influential figure and Glenn Murray can be a nuisance up front.
To miss out on the top four after being in such a strong position would be a bitter pill to swallow, and Klopp must get a big performance out of his side.
They have had a whole week to prepare, with individuals getting some much-needed freshness back in their legs, so there can be no excuses if they fall short.
Strong minds are required on Merseyside, as the Reds look to achieve their main pre-season goal, before attention turns to Kiev on May 26.
Last Meeting: Brighton 1-5 Liverpool
Liverpool are still without Joel Matip, Emre Can and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but Adam Lallana will make the squad, with Klopp calling the 30-year-old “as fit as possible” in his pre-match press conference.
Lallana has not played since getting injured at Crystal Palace on March 31, but having him back is a boost, with midfield options lacking.
The major concern is over Sadio Mane, who has a “fresh injury” and is therefore a doubt.
If Mane is available, the team picks itself, with Klopp not having to worry about rotation in the slightest, given the importance of the Brighton game, and the fortnight-long break before the Champions League final.
Brighton’s only absentee is veteran midfielder Steve Sidwell, meaning Chris Hughton could field the same team that started last Friday’s 1-0 win against Man United at the Amex Stadium.
Last 5 at home to Brighton (All Competitions)
Won 6-1 – February, 2016 (Skrtel, Bridcutt OG, Carroll, Gerrard, Dunk OG, Suarez; Lua Lua)
Drew 2-2 – January, 1991 (Rush x2; Small, Byrne)
Won 4-0 – October, 1985 (Walsh x3, Dalglish)
Lost 2-1 – February, 1983 (Johnston; Ryan, Case)
Won 3-1 – October, 1982 (Lawrenson, Dalglish x2; Ryan)
Did You Know?
Salah has one last chance to break the goalscoring record by a player in a 38-game Premier League season.
Liverpool’s Player of the Year remains level with Luis Suarez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alan Shearer on 31 goals – can he do it?
He will be on penalty duty in order to help his goal tally.
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Brighton – Last five results (all competitions)
Speaking at Melwood on Friday, Klopp said having a week off was badly needed, following nine matches in the space of 31 days:
“A week off was exactly what we needed.
“We had a few players with some problems and had time to recover. We still have two days and that should help us.
“It would have been difficult to play during the week.”
TV & Live Blog Info
The match has been chosen as one of Sky Sports’ live games, with the game’s importance seeing it screened along with Newcastle vs. Chelsea (Sky Sports Premier League) and Southampton vs. Man City (Sky Sports Mix).
Coverage gets underway on Sky Sports Premier League HD at 2pm (BST) and Sky Sports Main Event from 2:55pm, with kick off at 3pm.
Henry Jackson will be running our matchday live blog from 2:15pm, as he provides you with plenty of pre-match content and minute-by-minute updates throughout the afternoon.