League leaders Liverpool will look to get back to winning ways when they travel to Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League.
Amex Stadium, Hove, England
Key Stat: Liverpool have not lost more than two consecutive games since January 2017 - a run of three losses which included a 2-1 FA Cup defeat to Wolves
Expert Verdict: After losing to Manchester City in the Premier League, Liverpool passed up the chance to bounce back with a strong of statement - fielding a weakened team in the FA Cup and paying the price as they lost 2-1 to Wolves. It should be normal service resumed in the league, however - and a win against Brighton to keep the Reds clear at the top.
Goalkeeper Mathew Ryan and winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh are away at the Asian Cup with Australia and Iran respectively, while Bernardo is a doubt with a thigh injury. Jose Izquierdo is still sidelined too, though he is targeting a return next week. David Button will continue in goal in place of Ryan, while Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk have been reunited at the back in place of Leon Balogun after both returning from their recent suspensions.
Glenn Murray – Brighton’s top scorer again this season with eight in all competitions and he is now due a goal having not scored since for more than a month.
Shane Duffy – Scored in the draw with West Ham in their last Premier League game but more important than his four goals are his defensive contributions.
Jurgen Locadia – Has established himself as one of Brighton’s two front men over recent weeks and scored the winner in the most recent game at the AMEX.
After losing 2-0 away to Bournemouth on December 22, Brighton are now unbeaten in the four subsequent games since Christmas. Jurgen Locadia scored in back-to-back home games to earn a 1-1 draw against Arsenal on Boxing and a 1-0 win against Everton the following Saturday. They were 2-0 up at West Ham through Dale Stephens and Shane Duffy but drew 2-2, but then bounced back with a 3-1 FA Cup win at Bournemouth - Anthony Knockaert, Yves Bissouma and Florin Andone scoring Brighton’s goals.
Defenders:Martin Montoya, Lewis Dunk, Shane Duffy, Gaetan Bong
Midfielders:Pascal Gross, Davy Propper, Dale Stephens, Solly March
Forwards:Jurgen Locadia, Glenn Murray
Jurgen Klopp will welcome back his key first-team players after heavy rotation for the FA Cup defeat at Wolves. Alisson, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson, Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane will all return to the starting XI. Dejan Lovren picked up an injury in that game, however, and, with Joe Gomez and Joel Matip already ruled out, that could mean Fabinho partnering Van Dijk at centre-back. Another (riskier) option would be 16-year-old Ki-Jana Hoever, who made his debut in place of Lovren in that game.
Mohamed Salah – Top scorer again so far this season, despite a couple of lean spells. The Egyptian has 16 goals and eight assists so far.
Roberto Firmino – In red-hot form after his hat-trick against Arsenal and strike in the defeat to Manchester City took him to ten goals for the season.
Virgil van Dijk – With Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all sidelined, the big Dutch defender will be key – if he is fit to return himself – leading the back line.
Liverpool won eight from eight in December but have lost two games in a row in January. Their most recent win was the 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal, in which Roberto Firmino scored a hat-trick and Mo Salah and Sadio Mane also netted. Since then, they have lost 2-1 at champions Manchester City, despite Firmino continuing his goalscoring form, and were dumped out of the FA Cup with a 2-1 loss at Wolves despite Divock Origi’s goal.
Defenders:Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson
Midfielders:Gini Wijnaldum, Naby Keita, James Milner
Forwards:Roberto Firmino, Mo Salah, Sadio Mane
Brighton have only won four of their 28 previous matches against Liverpool, compared to the Reds’ 16 wins in that time. Brighton’s last win was an FA Cup tie in 1984, since when, Liverpool have won seven and drawn one. All three Premier League matches have ended in Liverpool wins – 5-1 at the AMEX and 4-0 at Anfield last season, and then 1-0 at Anfield this season when Mo Salah scored the only goal of the game. Salah also scored at Anfield last season, as did Dejan Lovren, Dominic Solanke and Andy Robertson. In the last game at Brighton, Emre Can opened the scoring, Roberto Firmino scored twice and Philippe Coutinho and a Lewis Dunk own goal sealed a big away win – Glenn Murray’s penalty proving the hosts’ only consolation.
Liverpool looked unstoppable in December, winning eight games from eight, and they need to recapture that form at Brighton to get back on track.
The defeat to Manchester City was the product of a superb performance by the Premier League champions while Jurgen Klopp’s team selection affected the 2-1 defeat to Wolves last time out – opting for a weakened line-up in the FA Cup.
To justify the decision to rest so many players for the cup tie, Klopp and Liverpool have to bounce back straight away now – though Brighton will not hurt Liverpool with the same intensity City showed.
Nevertheless, the Seagulls have proved in wins against Manchester United, for example, that they can go toe to toe with the big teams and Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk have formed a good partnership at the back.
A run of two wins and two draws – including Jurgen Locadia’s home goals in the draw with Arsenal and defeat of Everton – means they are in good form too.
Nevertheless, Liverpool scored five at the AMEX last season and another big win is not beyond the realms of possibility – particularly given how well they played in December.
Injuries at the back will be what hampers them most, but Virgil van Dijk should return – though he did have a minor injury complaint before Wolves – and he can lead the defence to yet another clean sheet.
Should they do that, and keep Locadia and Glenn Murray out, then Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino have both been in good goalscoring form of late and can make the difference at the other end.
Liverpool have to get back to winning ways but they have not lost more than two in a row for nearly a year and anything less than a win would be a surprise result.
Liverpool are still comfortable odds-on favourites to beat Brighton despite their back-to-back defeats so far this month. The Reds are 8/25 to win with 888sport.
Two goals conceded in each of the last two games has been a rarity as far as Liverpool are concerned this season too, with Alisson keeping clean sheet after clean sheet since his arrival in goal. A Liverpool win to nil is evens with Bet365, Ladbrokes and Betway.
With that in mind, an early goal would settle some nerves and Liverpool are 3/10 with Betway to score first and a best price of 10/11 with Ladbrokes to be leading at half-time and full-time.
Mohamed Salah is 5/6 with Ladbrokes and Betway to score at any time, while Roberto Firmino has been in top form and should be backed at 11/8 with 888sport.
Liverpool won eight from eight in December and looked unstoppable. One league defeat and an FA Cup loss with a weakened team does not diminish that – they can bounce back with a comfortable win.