In football, everyone has a so-called “bogey team.”
No matter what your team does, what lineup your head coach chooses, or how the players perform, the outcome will never be in your favor.
For Liverpool, their bogey team has been Brighton over the past four seasons. Jurgen Klopp’s side have won just one of their last seven games against them.
Their most recent defeat to them in the Premier League – 3-0 in January – was one of the lowest moments of Klopp’s eight-year reign at Anfield, with Liverpool beaten by Roberto De Zerbi’s rampant home side .
Ahead of the club’s meeting again at the Amex Stadium tomorrow (Sunday), Klopp said of Brighton: “They’ve taken a big step, super stable, different players and squads, but you always see Brighton football, I couldn’t respect that more. I’m really looking forward to this game because we have to correct some things.”
Competitor A detailed look at Brighton’s winning strategy and what to expect from Liverpool this weekend on the south coast…
Attack the right
It’s not an uncommon tactic to focus the attack down Liverpool’s right, targeting the space behind Trent Alexander-Arnold.
In the two league meetings between the two clubs last season, Brighton’s offense was mainly focused on Liverpool’s right wing, including two goals scored in the 3-0 league victory in January.
A similar situation emerged in De Zerby’s first game as Brighton coach a year ago this week in a 3-3 draw at Anfield, when all their goals came from the flanks.
At the American Express, Kaoru Sanma was always a threat with his speed, movement and dribbling.
Mitoma came off the bench to cause plenty of trouble on Merseyside three months ago, including setting up the late goal for Leandro Trossard’s hat-trick. Brighton seized on Liverpool’s defensive mistake on the right and reacted faster to the second ball, and the pace of the game was so fast that Klopp’s players had no time to react.
We haven’t seen this game since Liverpool switched to a three-box-three formation at the end of last season, which could be used more effectively with Alexander-Arnold fully fit after recovering from a hamstring injury. But Brighton’s attacking direction is likely to continue.
play with lines
Brighton’s growth in recent seasons has been due to their confidence in possession, patient and clever organization of offense. Drifting into space to catch the ball and help the ball along is crucial to this approach.
They used it to great effect against Liverpool. In the first 25 minutes of the 3-3 draw last October, Trossard and Pascal Gross repeatedly flanked the isolated Fabinho.
Klopp admitted afterwards that this was a problem: “Usually you adapt quicker, but before we could adapt we were 2-0 down and then we understood better what they did and reacted to it 🙁 We) put them outside, where the gap wasn’t so open anymore, they couldn’t kick every ball through half court.”
The following example led to Danny Welbeck’s golden opportunity of the day.
Joel Veltman pushed the play to midfield where Solly March eventually collected the ball.
March found Welbeck, who had drifted into another dimension…
…He quickly passed the ball to Trossard…
…This brings an opportunity for March to travel through time.
Brighton’s late equalizer had a similar quality – Adam Webster fed Welbeck a line-breaking pass before Trossard finished off Mitoma ‘s cross.
Going back to last season – a 2-2 draw at Anfield – both of Brighton’s goals came from this game.
Brighton’s first goal was started by Veltman. Then he found Enock Mwepu…
… He quickly passed the ball to Adam Lallana.
This forced Liverpool back, leaving Mwepe free to find the top corner on the edge of the box.
Enock Mwepu and a career cruelly cut short by a genetic heart condition
Liverpool will need the energy of midfielders Alexis McAllister and Dominic Szoboszlai to bridge such a gap quickly and effectively on Sunday.
Working from the outside in
One of Liverpool’s main shortcomings in last season’s 3-0 loss to Brighton was falling into the trap of following their forwards deep, who made room for the wingers’ inside-out runs.
Just like Roberto Firmino is adept at pulling centre-backs into uncomfortable positions to create space for Liverpool wingers Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, Brighton pull off the exact same trick.
Below, as left back Pervis Estupinan prepares to pass, center Evan Ferguson steps into space to receive the ball, while wingers Mitoma (left wing) and March (right wing) ) then runs behind.
Alexander-Arnold was close to Mitoma but the Japan international was running in his blind spot, meaning Joel Matip was caught between tracking him and pressing Ferguson.
He chose to play alongside Mitoma, which allowed Ferguson to receive the ball and turn. It also created a huge gap between Matip and his centre-back partner Ibrahima Konate – something Ferguson exploited to find March’s outside-in runs.
Alexander-Arnold was in no man’s land defensively and March’s shot went past goalkeeper Alisson.
When the shot is scored and three of Liverpool’s four defenders line up almost vertically on the pitch, you know something is wrong.
Brighton’s attacking patterns are clear and repeatable, and while Liverpool’s defense has improved early in the season, Klopp’s side must be wary of falling into the same trap again.
How can I put it right…
liverpool able Find out the opposition’s weaknesses this weekend. As has been seen in recent weeks, teams are starting to think about how to use Brighton’s possession advantage against them – namely on the counter-attack.
Brighton’s well-planned build-up is designed to draw out the opposition team and create space between the defensive lines for midfielders and attacking players.
This has served them well since De Zerbi’s arrival, but Everton showed a blueprint for neutralizing this threat at the end of last season when they left the Amex Stadium with a surprise 5-1 victory.
How did they do it? By not getting sucked into the pressure, staying compact and fighting back quickly.
A similar situation played out this season in Premier League defeats to West Ham United (3-1 at home) and Aston Villa (6-1 away), as well as Thursday’s 2-2 Europa League draw with Marseille.
Opponents blocked passes to the midfielders, much to Brighton’s frustration. Subsequently, Brighton counterattacked and conceded a goal, which seemed to be a pattern that had appeared in the early stages of this campaign. No team in the Premier League has conceded more direct attacks (defined as at least 50% of movement towards the opponent’s goal starting in their own half and ending with a shot or a touch in the penalty area) than Brighton this season. 29 times.
That’s not to say things are tighter for Liverpool at the moment, having conceded just four times in direct attack in their first seven games.
If both sides play the way we know they will, you can expect to see an open contest.
Another weakness that has plagued Brighton since the start of last season is their inability to profit from set pieces.
Only eight set-pieces were scored in that period, a record that contrasts with Liverpool’s 22 goals, more than any other team. Even taking into account the number of chances taken, Brighton scored 2.3 goals per 100 set pieces, which shows that they are not maximizing their opportunities.
Brighton, meanwhile, concedes 5.4 goals per 100 opponent set-pieces, the second-worst defensive record in the Premier League since the 2022-23 season. This statistic should give Klopp’s side confidence that they can dominate in both penalty areas tomorrow.
Liverpool have scored three corner kicks this season and it would be foolish not to perfect some set-piece tactics ahead of this game.
Both sides are recovering from Europa League action on Thursday night, but the game still promises to be an end-to-end affair.
Liverpool have made some mistakes in recent games against Brighton, but we’ll see if they learn from them.
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