Brighton v Liverpool gets the tactics treatment and we cannot see Brighton coping with the press…
Graham Potter plays a progressive brand of possession football that focuses on intelligent passing out from the back, but the problem is he just doesn’t have enough quality in the squad for it to work. Brighton consistently win when forced onto the back foot, as in the victory over Aston Villa last weekend, and consistently fall to heavy defeats when attempting to take the game to big clubs.
Potter’s side held the majority of possession in games against Everton, Manchester United and Chelsea this season. Brighton conceded ten goals: two following sloppy passes from defenders, four on the counter-attack, and three from set-pieces – all of which were forced from opposition breaks. Liverpool, then, will relish playing such an open team.
Key battle zone
Brighton’s back three will spread out, continually looking for a safe pass into central midfield to give their team a foothold in the game. For that reason alone it is Liverpool’s attacking midfield zone that is the most important, with a front three of Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane likely to force errors in these moments.
Even if they do not, there will be times when the Liverpool midfield snaps into tackles and, in the transition, catches Brighton too fanned out to deal with the fluidity of Jurgen Klopp’s attack. The visitors were superb in their 3-0 win over Leicester City last weekend, showing an energy and purposefulness that made a mockery of suggestions they are slowing down. This ought to be an easy win for Liverpool.
Keep an eye on… Who replaces Lamptey
Tariq Lamptey serves a one-match suspension on Saturday after receiving a second yellow card in injury time against Aston Villa, giving Graham Potter a serious selection headache. Without a natural replacement – Lamptey’s attacking interplay is essential to the structure of the team – the Brighton manager could abandon the 3-4-3.
But more likely Potter will retain the system and choose between Joel Veltman and midfielder Pascal Gross, who came off the bench to play right wing-back in Brighton’s 2-1 defeat to Tottenham. Veltman should get the nod for defensive security, given his direct opponent is the unplayable Mane – and given that Lamptey’s replacement will need to get tight to Andrew Robertson…
One to watch… Andrew Robertson
Brighton have a serious problem defending crosses. This is most notable from set-pieces, of which Potter’s side have conceded more than any other team in the Premier League. Aston Villa scored from a cross to the back post in Brighton’s last game, and Dean Smith’s side would have scored from more deliveries had Trezeguet not missed several big chances.
With Trent Alexander-Arnold still out, Robertson is the danger man in this regard. The Scotland international already has three assists in nine Premier League games this season, and can expect to find space against whichever Brighton player deputises for Lamptey. Jurgen Klopp will instruct his players to hit deeper crosses more than usual, while Liverpool’s corners promise to be threatening.
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Alex Keble hosts a Premier League pre-match tactics show at twitch.tv/EPLtactics