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    Liverpool vs Brighton Match Preview


    Liverpool will be guaranteed a place in next season's Champions League if they can manage at least a draw against Brighton in their final Premier League game of the campaign.

    The Reds have already reached the final of this season's competition, where they will face Real Madrid later this month, but the club can ease some of the pressure heading into that game by finishing in the top-four on Sunday.

    Brighton secured their Premier League survival on May 4 with an unlikely victory over Manchester United but they could claim a top-half finish with three points at Anfield this weekend.

    Liverpool

    Liverpool looked certain to finish the season in the top-four when they held a 10-point lead over fifth-place Chelsea only four weeks ago, albeit having played a game more, with four matches of the season left to play.

    The Reds, however, have only taken two points from their last three games, while Chelsea exerted some unexpected pressure by putting together a four-match winning run that culminated in a 1-0 win over Liverpool last weekend.

    Antonio Conte's team would even have joined Liverpool on 72 points had they won their game in hand against Huddersfield, but a 1-1 draw on Wednesday night has given The Reds an almighty boost heading into the final day of the season.

    Liverpool now only need to draw against Brighton on Sunday, courtesy of having a vastly superior goal-difference, while even a defeat would be enough for Jurgen Klopp's side if Chelsea fail to beat Newcastle.

    However, The Reds cannot afford to rest any players ahead of the Champions League final on May 26, not only due to the importance of the game but also as a result of the club's injury crisis.

    Adam Lallana is only set to feature from the bench following his return from a hamstring injury, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Emre Can all remain on the sidelines.

    Klopp's team will be buoyed by their excellent recent record against Sunday's opponents, with The Reds winning 5-1 at the Amex in December and 6-1 in an FA Cup tie at Anfield back in 2012.

    Brighton

    Brighton have enjoyed an excellent first season back in the top-flight after a gap of 34 years, with the famous 1-0 win over Manchester United nine days ago confirming the club's Premier League survival.

    The Seagulls have secured impressive wins against Newcastle, West Ham (twice) and Arsenal this campaign, while they also reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup before losing to The Red Devils at Old Trafford.

    Chris Hughton has invested wisely in the transfer market, with the additions of Pascal Gross, Matthew Ryan, Davy Propper and Jose Izquierdo all proving pivotal to his side's fortunes.

    Hughton has built Brighton's success upon the foundations of a rock solid defence, which has conceded the fewest goals in the bottom-half of the table, and the ability to be clinical in front of goal when the opportunities present themselves.

    The club have suffered only 15 defeats throughout the campaign, only two more than sixth-place Arsenal, despite losing their first seven encounters against top-six sides prior to the 2-1 win over The Gunners back in March. 

    Glenn Murray has been Brighton's top-scorer throughout 2017-18 with 14 goals, double as many as Pascal Gross who has scored seven times, and nine more than Jose Izquierdo on five goals.

    A victory this weekend could elevate The Seagulls to as high as 10th in the table on 43 points, while a defeat would only see the club drop one place from their current position of 14th if West Ham were to beat Everton.

    Liverpool Team News

    Liverpool are likely to name their strongest possible line-up for the visit of Brighton on Sunday, with captain Jordan Henderson recalled to midfield after he was named as a substitute against Chelsea.

    Trent Alexander-Arnold is expected to return to his more familiar right-back role after he played as a right-sided midfielder last weekend, while Nathaniel Clyne is likely to drop to the bench.

    Sadio Mane is a fitness doubt ahead of the game after he sustained a knock in the encounter against Chelsea, which has forced him to miss several training sessions throughout the past week.

    Adam Lallana has returned to the matchday squad, however, after recovering from a hamstring injury, although Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Joe Gomez (ankle), Emre Can (back) and Joel Matip (thigh) all remain on the sidelines.

    Brighton Team News

    Brighton are only likely to make one change from the team that lost 3-1 against Manchester City on Wednesday night, with top-scorer Glenn Murray returning to the starting line-up in place of Leonardo Ulloa.

    On-loan Leicester striker Ulloa is expected to return to the bench, where he will be joined by the likes of Beram Kayal, Jurgen Locadia and Solly March who all featured as second-half substitutes against champions City.

    Izzy Brown, who is on a season-long loan deal from Chelsea, remains on the sidelines having been ruled out for the remainder of the campaign in January with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.

    Steve Sidwell is the only other Brighton player currently unavailable, although the 35-year-old has not made any appearances for the club this season after undergoing back surgery in September.

    Head-to-head

    Brighton have only beaten Liverpool on four occasions in the club's history, with the last of those victories coming in an FA Cup fourth round tie in 1984 courtesy of the goals that Gerry Ryan and Terry Connor scored in a 2-0 victory.

    The Seagulls' last win at Anfield came in the fifth round of the FA Cup during the previous season, with Ryan and Jimmy Case earning the visitors a famous 2-1 upset on their way to reaching their only ever final in the competition. 

    Liverpool have, however, been triumphant in five of the last six encounters, including in the 5-1 win at the Amex in December when two goals from Roberto Firmino steered The Reds towards a 5-1 victory.

    The two teams have met on 26 occasions in total, with Liverpool coming out on top in 14 of those meetings, while Brighton have won four meetings and eight matches between the sides have ended in draws.

    Score Prediction

    Liverpool 2-0 Brighton
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool vs Brighton Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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