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Why Brighton fear “lack of pace and physicality” against “on fire” Liverpool

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Liverpool finally return to Anfield to host Brighton on Saturday, with “astounding” rumoured Reds transfer target Yves Bissouma set to be a key figure.

Jurgen Klopp‘s men are still basking in the glory of last weekend’s once-in-a-lifetime 5-0 win away to Man United, also seeing off Preston in the League Cup in midweek.

On Saturday, Liverpool welcomes a talented Brighton side to Anfield, with the Seagulls enjoying a promising start to the campaign in their own right.

Graham Potter’s side sits fifth in the Premier League with nine matches played, although they are without a win in their last four outings.

Ahead of the game, we got in touch with Kieran Maguire (@KieranMaguire), Brighton fan and lecturer in football finance at Liverpool University, to get his thoughts on all things Seagulls and Reds.

 

How would you assess Brighton’s start to the season?

BRIGHTON & HOVE, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 23, 2021: Brighton & Hove Albion's Adam Lallana during the FA Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Manchester City FC at the AMEX Stadium. Manchester City won 4-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I’m delighted with the start to the season.

We have won the matches we were drawing or losing last season, and outperforming xG as well, which is even better.

The side has a definitive style of play under Graham Potter, and on such a modest budget, so there are no complaints from me.

 

What are your realistic aspirations for the season?

BRIGHTON & HOVE, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 23, 2021: Brighton & Hove Albion's goalkeeper Robert Sánchez during the FA Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Manchester City FC at the AMEX Stadium. Manchester City won 4-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A top-half finish would be great, but there are plenty of challenges ahead and injuries mean we are already looking a bit threadbare in places.

We have to be realistic and the first objective is to avoid relegation.

It would be great going into say February and not playing mental gymnastics every week over the results of Norwich, Burnley and other relegation-threatened teams.

Even though we have made a good start and no one expected us to be ahead of Man United, Tottenham and Arsenal going into November, it is easy to go on a run of ten games without a win in this division.

Ideally, we can continue to convert performances into results, make the most of our best players while they are with us and get the odd decent result against the bigger teams.

Last season, we beat Man City, Spurs and Liverpool, but I cannot see it happening again.

 

Who do you see as Brighton’s three most important players?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 3, 2021: Brighton & Hove Albion's Yves Bissouma during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. Brighton & Hove Albion won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Yves Bissouma has been astounding in central midfield for the first few matches, carrying on from where he left off last season.

Whether or not he will play is down to external factors that I am sure fans are aware of.

Left-back Marc Cucurella has been immense and gives us options down that flank, having joined from Getafe in the summer.

Finally, Tariq Lamptey has just returned from injury but does add an element of unpredictability and pace to our game.

 

Switching our attention to Liverpool, how are you assessing their title chances?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 24, 2021: Liverpool's Diogo Jota (C) celebrates with team-mates James Milner (L) and Roberto Firmino (R) after scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s going to be a tough season, but Liverpool are on fire at present.

Man City blew us out of the water at the Amex Stadium for 45 minutes last weekend – they were like a swarm, and have ridiculous pace.

Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish – the latter not weighed down by shinpads! – were frightening at times.

They will be difficult to beat for Liverpool.

 

Looking ahead to Saturday’s game, which Red do you fear most?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 24, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring the fifth goal, completing his hat-trick, during the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. Liverpool won 5-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It has to be Mo Salah. He looks the best player on the planet at present, combining pace, control, dribbling and a cool head when finishing.

He is amazing to watch from a neutral viewpoint.

 

Where do you see the key battles taking place?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 24, 2021: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. Liverpool won 5-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A lot will depend on who we play in central midfield.

Liverpool won all of the 50/50 tackles against Man United and if we play Pascal Gross and Adam Lallana then their lack of pace and physicality will count against us.

I do fear that our traditional centre-backs will find it difficult to deal with the Reds’ speed, especially on the counter-attack.

 

Finally, hit us with your prediction…

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 24, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. Liverpool won 5-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool 4-1 Brighton.

I predict that the Reds will be 3-0 up at half-time and take their foot off the pedal.

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