Brighton v Liverpool the predictions and the psychology

After three consecutive defeats Brighton are unbeaten in four…

08 Dec 2018 Burnley v Brighton and Hove Albion L 1-0
16 Dec 2018 Brighton and Hove Albion v Chelsea L 1-2
22 Dec 2018 AFC Bournemouth v Brighton and Hove Albion L 2-0
26 Dec 2018 Brighton and Hove Albion v Arsenal D 1-1
29 Dec 2018 Brighton and Hove Albion v Everton W 1-0
02 Jan 2019 West Ham United v Brighton and Hove Albion D 2-2
05 Jan 2019 Bournemouth v Brighton and Hove (FA Cup) W 1-3

And what is interesting is that apart from the final game we have a run of matches without either side scoring more than two.   But is such a run of four undefeated enough to cause Liverpool a problem?

Liverpool had eight consecutive wins ending with a 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal and then…

03 Jan 2019 Manchester City v Liverpool L 2-1
07 Jan 2019 Wolverhampton W v Liverpool FA C L 2-1

Two away defeats – maybe the first could be predicted but the second seemed very unlikely.

But more than this, in those two matches Liverpool lost two cherished aims; to be only the second team since the 19th century to go all season unbeaten and to be only the third team to get more than one cup and league double.    Given the results they had been getting up to that point they must have thought both were ready and waiting for them.

Brighton at home are not something to be sneezed at.  Here is the league table based on home games only…

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 11 10 0 1 37 10 27 30
2 Liverpool 10 9 1 0 27 3 24 28
3 Arsenal 11 8 2 1 24 10 14 26
4 Chelsea 11 6 4 1 19 8 11 22
5 Manchester United 10 6 3 1 21 13 8 21
6 Tottenham Hotspur 9 6 0 3 18 9 9 18
7 Brighton and Hove Albion 10 5 3 2 15 11 4 18

Five wins, three draws, two defeats.  True the goals are not rattling in, but 15 for and 11 against is OK for a recently promoted club.

Liverpool might be top of the table overall but they are not when it comes to away games…

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 12 10 0 2 28 12 16 30
2 Liverpool 11 8 2 1 22 7 15 26
3 Chelsea 10 7 1 2 19 8 11 22
4 Manchester City 10 6 2 2 19 7 12 20
5 Manchester United 11 5 2 4 22 19 3 17

However recent wobble or not, this is still an excellent away for record with goalscoring to match.  Liverpool have scored more and conceded fewer away than Brighton have at home, which clearly suggests a win for Liverpool.

Psychological effects

The only thing that will stop Liverpool is themselves, with their concerns about those last two defeats.  Everything was going so well, and then suddenly it all goes wrong.   And not just wrong but two targets are now irretrievably lost.

And it is the impact of history that sooner or later will have a psychological effect on the club.  Their last trophy was in 2012 – the League Cup.  Before that it was the FA Cup in 2006.  Their last League title 1990.

The club does need to establish itself as a modern great not just by winning something but by doing it in a style that other clubs have managed, and for that they need to pick themselves up quickly.

If they can do so, the chances are they can give Manchester City a run for their money at the top.   But eyes will also be watching the transfer window this January – does the owner have the depth of pocket and nerves to go on and spend a lot more money?

Given these questions and issues the win in what might otherwise seem to be a match of little significance in the broader scheme of things, could mean a lot.

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