Up next for Liverpool is an encounter with Brighton, and it is the last match of the league season. It is absolutely essential that we try to win this match because if not we risk getting jumped in the table by Chelsea for that 4th spot, who are 2 points behind us currently. We play at home so that will make things easier for us, but my best guess is that Brighton will go for the win as they have nothing to lose. Out for us will be Matip, Can, and Chamberlain. Of course we can always hope we win the Champions League final, but it is better if we get this win instead and not have to rely on the final for the Champions League spot.
Chris Hughton has done a great job with Brighton and his 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 shape seems to have done the job in the league. They will most likely stick with that for this game as well.
For us I think it is obvious that we play our strongest lineup. Karius; Robertson, Lovren, VVD, Trent; Wijnaldun, Henderson, Milner; Mane, Firmino, Salah.
Patience will be the biggest thing for this game in organized attack. Brighton are away and will more than likely sit a bit deep so that there is no room for our front 3 to run behind their back line. So we must be patient with the ball. No one likes to defend the entire time. And eventually we will see a 10-15 minute period where Brighton may let their guard down a bit, lose some concentration. And it is in these moments where we must strike with full force. We must make the field as big as possible, so for this we need our fullbacks high and wide. Stretch them out as much as we can, and force them to cover maximum ground. If they want to defend then fine, we will make them defend all game if they want. We must have multiple layers in attack with maximum connections. Our organized attack shape may need to look like a 2-3-2-3. Our center backs will be our last line, our fullbacks push up with Henderson, our 8’s push up a bit ahead of those 3, and then we will have our front 3 up top. Like I said, more layers= more connections across the pitch. Our fullbacks especially should have license to go up and down the field as they please.
I think another interesting note will be to hit them hard in transition right after set pieces on our own side of the field. If they have a free kick near our goal or even a corner kick, they will commit several numbers forward, and undoubtedly their last line of defense will be higher. Of course the first order of business is to prevent the goal, but after that we have to immediately look to play our front 3 who will have large spaces to run to. I would take our front 3 against their 4 or 5 that they may have sitting back in set pieces as long as we have loads of space to take advantage of, which we should if we can clear the ball from their set pieces. these specific moments will be key to trying to score goals, and they may be the only moments in the match where they will have access to large spaces.
Overall I am feeling a 2-0 victory with a resilient effort from Brighton, but it just won’t be enough.