As Liverpool prepare for Saturday’s trip to Brighton, Seagulls fans are dreaming of a first-ever Premier League win over the Reds.
Jurgen Klopp‘s side return from FA Cup commitments to focus on the primary aim this season: winning the Premier League title.
The 2-1 loss at Man City was an obvious disappointment, but Liverpool remain in a position that felt highly unlikely back in August.
Brighton host the Reds at the Amex this weekend, in an awkward fixture that will test the resolve of Klopp and his players.
Ahead of the match we spoken to Kieran Maguire (@KieranMaguire), lecturer in football finance at the University of Liverpool, to get his thoughts on Brighton, the title race and Saturday’s meeting.
Brighton are 13th in the Premier League – how happy are you with things at the moment?
I am delighted with the season to date.
The primary aim was to avoid relegation and we are presently 10 points above the drop zone, which sums up my current happiness.
In recent weeks the style of football has been more expansive, too, which has been a bonus.
Chris Hughton is one of the most underrated managers in the country – is he still the man for the job?
Very much so.
The club owner Tony Bloom and Chris Hughton have the same view of the Albion in terms of our place in the food chain in the Premier League.
While a small section of the fanbase want to see more risks taken on the pitch, most appreciate the job Hughton has done in just four years.
He has taken us from the relegation zone in the Championship to being an established Premier League side.
Which three players have stood out most for Brighton this season, and why?
Mathew Ryan has proven to be a superb goalkeeper and a huge crowd favourite. An absolute snip at £5 million.
Shane Duffy has been monumental at both ends of the pitch, making more clearances than any other player in the Premier League.
He has also chipped in with goals and assists from set-pieces and established legendary status by being sent off for headbutting a Crystal Palace player after 20 minutes.
We then beat our hated rivals 3-1 with just 10 men.
Davy Propper does all the dirty work in midfield but has recently shown some old-school Dutch style through-balls and turns.
And what about Liverpool’s campaign?
Liverpool have been superb, and have addressed the weaknesses of last season in goal and central defence.
The full-backs have grown throughout the season—Trent Alexander-Arnold’s 60-yard cross-field ball against us at Anfield in August is the best I’ve seen this season—and they’ve won some matches when not firing on all cylinders.
That is what prospective champions have to do at times.
Are they going to win the title?
The title will be tight but I think Liverpool will do it.
City are still too reliant on the magnificent Sergio Aguero for clinical finishing and he rarely plays every game.
Anyone you fear for the Reds on Saturday, in particular?
Glenn Murray says Virgil van Dijk is the best centre-back he’s played against in his career, so I can’t see us troubling the scoreboard.
At the other end, Mo Salah seems to have fully recovered, and although we have brave and committed defenders, the pace of the Liverpool front three is scary.
Looking ahead to the game, where do you see the key battles taking place?
The main issue will be our ability to restrict the supply line to the Liverpool strikers.
Propper and Dale Stephens will have their work cut out to do that and I fear we will give away too many free-kicks in our third of the pitch be punished for it.
Liverpool gave the best display at the Amex last season—we just hope the players don’t produce a performance of the same standard on Saturday.
Finally, hit us with a prediction…
Brighton 0-3 Liverpool