Liverpool head into their final Premier League game of the season off of the back of just one win in their last five, a run which has left them in sweating over the top four spot they thought they had wrapped up.
The Champions League finalists will host Brighton at Anfield on Sunday knowing a loss will leave them out of the qualification places if Chelsea beat Newcastle at St. James’ Park.
The Seagulls haven’t beaten their upcoming opposition since 1984, with their last win coming in the FA Cup. The last time they beat Liverpool in league competition was two years prior, and they ended up on the end of a 5-1 battering at home earlier this season.
Chris Hughton’s men have nothing but pride to play for as a loss would see them drop to 15th in the standings, without consequence. But the Reds have it all to do, and Sadio Mane’s potential absence doesn’t help them at all.
The two sides have only met on 26 occasions in total, with Liverpool winning 14 of those, drawing eight and losing four.
A classic encounter takes us back to a fourth-round FA Cup replay in 1991, a match the Reds won 3-2 at Brighton’s old Goldstone Ground home.
Managed by Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool boasted quite the squad, featuring the likes of Steve Nicol, Ronnie Whelan, Ian Rush and John Barnes.
Steve McMahon opened the scoring in the 10th minute, but the Seagulls hit back with a 36th-minute goal from English forward Mike Small.
The match went into extra time, with John Byrne giving the home side the advantage in the 98th minute. But Rush came to the rescue, tying things up eight minutes later. McMahon would then score a second on minute 114 to give Liverpool the extra time win.
Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy should be fully occupied with both Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino. Thankfully, they might not have Mane’s threat to deal with, but the aforementioned pair are more than a handful and could be all the Reds need.
Pascal Groß has been a bit of a revelation this term, having registered seven goals and eight assists in his first season in the top flight. And he should provide a challenge for James Milner, who should be equally troublesome himself.
Bruno could also be kept busy by Andrew Robertson’s marauding runs down the flank. The former Hull City full-back has been mostly hard to handle when he surges forward looking to belt in crosses. And he could prove a huge threat in this match.
Adam Lallana could make a return for the last game of the season, but the Reds are likely to be without Sadio Mane, who suffered a knock in the loss to Chelsea. Emre Can is hoping to be back in time to face Real Madrid later this month, but this one comes way to soon.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez aren’t expected to play again after suffering season-ending injuries.
Brighton, meanwhile, only have Steve Sidwell and Izzy Brown unavailable.
Predicted Liverpool Lineup: Karius, Clyne, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson, Alexander Arnold, Wijnaldum, Milner, Salah, Ings, Firmino.
Predicted Brighton Lineup: Ryan, Bruno, Duffy, Dunk, Bong, Knockaert, Gross, Stephens, Propper, Izquierdo, Murray.
Brighton should still be feeling pretty confident after losing to Manchester City, having beaten Manchester United prior to that. And coming up against a side who have only recorded a single win in their last five and could possibly be feeling the effects of their remarkable Champions League run, they may sense a chance.
The Reds, though, should really be up for it, given what’s at stake. And while a draw will be enough to see them finish above Chelsea, Jurgen Klopp will expect nothing less than all three points.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Brighton
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