Liverpool FC look to continue their early Premier League title challenge on Sunday when they visit a Brighton & Hove Albion side that has been a major impediment to those aims in the recent past.
Liverpool (5-1-1, 16 points) enters the weekend fourth in the table — but only two points back of league leaders Manchester City — following a controversial 2-1 loss at Tottenham Hotspur that could have finished differently had Luis Diaz’s apparent goal been allowed to stand.
Instead, it was incorrectly ruled offside on the field, and an error in the video review process confirmed that decision and eventually precipitated an official apology from PGMOL, the governing body of the league’s referees.
The Reds were able to move on in the form of a 2-0 win over Union Saint-Gilloise in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday with goals from Ryan Gravenberch and Diogo Jota.
The trip to the South Coast could provide another boost if they can beat the Seagulls, who have won the past two meetings in all competitions and prevented a Liverpool victory in six of the teams’ past seven matchups.
“If you play like you played last year, you will get a massive knock again,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said of his side’s recent struggles against Brighton. “That’s how it is. So we should play better, and I think we can play better. That’s the first step into the right direction.”
Brighton (5-2-0, 15 points) are also in the mix in a crowded top third of the table, entering the weekend in sixth behind Aston Villa on goal difference after Villa routed the Seagulls 6-1 last weekend.
Any doubts over whether that result would dampen the spirit of manager Roberto de Zerbi’s side were silenced after his team fought from two goals down to a 2-2 Europa League draw at Marseille on Thursday to earn the first European point in club history.
Pascal Gross began the fightback in the 54th minute before Joao Pedro leveled from the penalty spot in the 88th.
“If we speak about football, we played bad, we didn’t play well, as Brighton, no?” De Zerbi said. “If we speak about character, about behavior, or about the passion of the players, there was only one team on the pitch, and I’m really proud.”
After scoring an own goal in the match against Villa, Brighton fullback Pervis Estupinan departed at halftime on the weekend and is expected to miss about a month with a muscular injury.
Liverpool’s Jota and Curtis Jones will be serving suspensions for red cards they earned in the loss at Spurs.