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Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Liverpool have every reason to sign off in style against Brighton

Salah spurred on by Golden Boot prize

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool has 31 goals to his name
1 of 1

Premier League
Sky Sports Main Event, 3pm Sunday

Liverpool have two chances to secure Champions League football for next season and by far the easiest route is to earn a point at home to Brighton on the final day of the Premier League season to guarantee a top-four finish.

Only a Brighton victory would open the door for Chelsea, allowing them to snatch fourth place by winning at Newcastle.

But the Chelsea camp won't be holding out much hope of a shock result at Anfield, where Liverpool are unbeaten 18 league matches this season.

Liverpool looked jaded when losing 1-0 at Chelsea last Sunday but that was understandable at the end of an emotionally charged week which saw them qualify for the Champions League final.

They have had plenty of time to recharge the batteries and Jurgen Klopp can play his strongest side knowing the Champions League final against Real Madrid is 13 days away.

Klopp would prefer to utilise his first-choice three-pronged attack, although Sadio Mane is a doubt after picking up a minor injury.

However, Mo Salah will be highly motivated to end a three-game scoring drought and extinguish any slim hope Tottenham's Harry Kane has of snatching the Golden Boot - Salah leads by three, 31-28.

 Brighton make the trip to Merseyside in a relaxed mood, knowing their primary objective of safety has been achieved.

However, the Seagulls can still finish between tenth and 15th and their final placing will have financial implications because each position is worth almost £2million.

For a club of Brighton's size, a possible extra £10m is a significant incentive and there were no signs of Chris Hughton's men easing off when they lost 3-1 at Manchester City on Wednesday.

Brighton's problem is that however hard they try it is going to be difficult to contain a Liverpool side determined to end the domestic season on a high.

There has been a recent drop-off from the Reds, who have gone three league games without a win for the first time this season.

But each of those matches came either directly before or after one of the Champions League semi-final clashes against Roma, which have dominated Liverpool's focus during the Premier League run-in.

It has been a relentless schedule for the Reds but with a full week to prepare they are likely to increase the intensity and strive for an early goal to put any doubt over Champions League qualification to rest.

Brighton have defended well for the most part this season with centre-backs Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk playing key roles.

But they have struggled away against the leading clubs, losing on all of their five trips to the big six and scoring just one goal.

Hughton's men may not be fully recovered from the effort expended in the loss at City in midweek and a tired Seagulls side are likely to fall behind in the first half, affording Liverpool fans a stress-free end to the Premier League campaign.

Recommendation
Liverpool-Liverpool double result
1pt 4-6 Coral, Ladbrokes

Premier League standings

Bet on this game at Soccerbase.com

Team news
Liverpool
Sadio Mane has picked up a minor injury and is a doubt but Adam Lallana is fully fit and could feature at some stage. Emre Can (back), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joe Gomez (both knee) and Joel Matip (thigh) are out.

Brighton
Steve Sidwell (back) is the only absentee.

Key stat
Liverpool have scored first-half goals in eight of their last nine domestic home fixtures.


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Jurgen Klopp can play his strongest side knowing the Champions League final against Real Madrid is 13 days away
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