Brighton & Hove Albion vs Liverpool Preview: Can Seagulls stop free-scoring Salah?

Liverpool will hope Mohamed Salah can continue his excellent goalscoring form when they travel south to take on one of the Premier League's tightest defences in the form of Brighton & Hove Albion.

Brighton & Hove Albion vs Liverpool Preview: Can Seagulls stop free-scoring Salah?
(Picture: Getty Images)

Liverpool face Brighton & Hove Albion in a league encounter for the first time in 34 years when they make the long trip down to the South Coast on Saturday afternoon.

The newly-promoted Seagulls are back in the top-flight for the first time since 1982-83 and have exceeded expectations thus far; sitting in 10th after 13 Premier League games.

Chris Hughton's side have displayed organisation, resilience and an excellent work ethic so far but have struggled to score goals with Pascal Gross their key man, scoring three and assisting five of their 13 goals.

Goalscoring has not been a problem for the visitors, with only Manchester City and Manchester United having scored more than Liverpool's 28 so far. Summer signing Mohamed Salah is the top-flight's top scorer with 12 in his first 14 league games for the club.

The Egyptian netted his third brace in his last four Premier League games in mid-week, off of the bench, as the Reds overcame Stoke City 3-0 away from home, while Brighton could only muster a goalless draw in their derby clash with Crystal Palace.

The Seagulls are six games unbeaten on home turf having drawn all of their last four in front of their own fans, but would surely be pleased with another point here.

Liverpool arrive into this game in sublime form, having collected 13 points from an available 15 since their last defeat, to Tottenham Hotspur, and netted at least three goals in four of those five matches.

But the test of having to break down Brighton could evoke memories of last season, when Liverpool consistently struggled to open up deep-defending sides despite their attacking quality and dropped .

This season they have boasted a greater record in the types of games they are expected to win, instead struggling against top-half rivals in a direct contrast to their form last year.

Yet Brighton have the fifth-best defensive record in the division and have not once conceded more than twice in a game, having only leaked more than one once in their last seven league outings.

And so much will rely on whether Brighton can halt the likes of Salah and Sadio Mané with the duo particularly key in recent away wins at Stoke and West Ham United.

Salah has contributed a goal or an assist in eight of Liverpool's last nine games in all competitions while Mané has two goals and three assists in less than 350 minutes of football since returning from injury.

Those two, plus the likes of Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho, are likely to ensure as tiresome an afternoon as Brighton's back-line have endured all season at the Amex Stadium.

But equally, the hosts are well capable of sitting back, denying Liverpool space and leaving them frustrated provided they keep their shape and discipline. 

It is likely to be an intriguing defence-vs-attack match-up, but which one will come out on top?

 

Team news

Left-back Gaetan Bong could return for the hosts after a minor knee injury kept him out of the 0-0 draw with Palace.

Midfielder Beram Kayal was in the match-day 18 for the first time this term last time out and could make his first appearance since pre-season after breaking his leg in early August.

Striker Sam Baldock is another player yet to play for Brighton this season, but ran out for the club's under-23s in November after a calf injury and will hope to make the squad for the first time this season.

Steve Sidwell remains sidelined by a back injury after undergoing surgery on September, but could return to light training next week.

Liverpool are without centre-back Joël Matip who sustained a muscle injury at Stoke, with Ragnar Klavan expected to replace him provided he recovers from the bout of illness that ruled him out in mid-week.

Adam Lallana, recently back from a long-term thigh injury, was absent from the squad to face Stoke but could be back in contention this weekend.

Nathaniel Clyne (back) is their only long-term absentee, with Klopp expected to rotate yet again with captain Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold among those who could come in for starts. 

Recent form (all competitions)

Brighton & Hove Albion: DWDLD

Liverpool: WWDDW

 

Latest result

Brighton & Hove Albion 0-0 Crystal Palace

Stoke 0-3 Liverpool (Mané 17, Salah 77, Salah 83)

 

Match facts

Of the 18 top-flight goals Liverpool have conceded this season, 16 have come away from home - though they kept their first away clean sheet of the campaign at Stoke on Wednesday.

Liverpool have won just one of their last four Premier League away trips to newly-promoted sides (D1, L2), that sole win coming against Middlesbrough in December 2016.

The Amex Stadium will be the 57th stadium that Liverpool have played at in the Premier League. So far they have won at 52 of the previous 56, more than any other team.

Liverpool's last 10 league victories have all been against teams starting that day in the bottom half of the table. In their first 14 games of the season, they have faced seven sides starting that day in the bottom half (W7, D1) and six clubs in the top half (D4, L2).

Liverpool have won four of their six meetings with Brighton since they last faced off in the league in March 1983.

Brighton have only won one of their last five league games.

Brighton boss Chris Hughton has lost all of his three previous Premier League games against Liverpool, conceding 15 goals.

The Reds have made a league-high 48 changes to their starting XI this season; 11 more than Everton - the next most-changed team.

Away matches involving Liverpool this season have produced a league-high 31 goals.

 

Referee

Graham Scott will oversee his eighth Premier League match of the season and his second involving Brighton after officiating their 0-0 draw at Watford in which he sent Miguel Britos off.

Scott, who refereed his first top-flight game in November 2014, has never been the man in the middle for a league match involving Liverpool before but did referee a League Cup win at Derby County and an FA Cup victory at Plymouth Argyle, both in 2016-17.

In total he has dished out just 12 yellows and one red in seven Premier League games, having handed out 10 cautions in three Championship, League One and League Cup games.