Simon Mail previews the final game of the season at Anfield and expects Liverpool to clinch a win against Brighton and secure a place in the top four...
"Liverpool's last four home league victories have seen them win both halves and they should be able to pick off a Brighton side with little to play for and a poor away record."
Liverpool v Brighton
Live on Sky Sports Main Event
Liverpool on verge of securing top-four finish
It has been an excellent season for Jurgen Klopp's side with Liverpool on the brink of another top-four Premier League finish and a Champions League final to look forward to in a couple of weeks. A brilliant run in Europe has seen them oust domestic champions Manchester City before defeating Roma in the semi-finals. Holders Real Madrid stand in their way of a sixth European Cup triumph when they face each other in Kiev.
But their immediate focus is on Anfield where they host Brighton in the final league game with a top-four finish still to be finalised. Liverpool have stuttered in the last few matches after being held to a 0-0 draw at home to Stoke before losing 1-0 at Chelsea last weekend. Liverpool's attacking brilliance, which has seen them score 80 league goals this season, was lacking in those games but normal service should resume this weekend for a team featuring the outstanding Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
Brighton celebrating safety after successful campaign
Brighton have enjoyed a memorable season in the Premier League after defying the odds to maintain their status. Chris Hughton's side were among the favourites for relegation after promotion from the Championship but held their own and ensured safety in style after a superb 1-0 home win over Manchester United last week. The Seagulls could even still finish in the top ten although this seems unlikely considering their closing trip to Anfield.
Most of their success has been achieved by their form at home where they have won seven league games and lost just four times. It has been harder for Brighton away from home with just two victories and the side were beaten at Manchester City on Wednesday which was their 11th loss on the road. But the job is very much done for the Seagulls and they can look forward to a pressure-free final day at Liverpool.
Liverpool are unsurprisingly exceptionally short-priced favourites to win this game but odds of [1.2] are a non-starter even if it looks a pretty safe bet. The Reds have won the last four meetings against Brighton including a 5-1 drubbing in December so the hosts look a good thing but there are alternative ways of attempting to extract some value by backing Liverpool.
Brighton are available at [19.0] but there is a reason why the visitors are trading at such big odds. The Seagulls' away form has been very poor recently with the side without a win in their last 12 league trips stretching back to November. Their last win came at Swansea and this is a very different prospect to winning at Anfield, where Liverpool are unbeaten in the league, so the outsiders offer no appeal for an upset.
The draw is on offer at [8.4] which should not be dismissed completely. After all, Liverpool only need a point, due to their superior goal difference compared to Chelsea, and have been held seven times at home this season. Brighton have drawn 13 matches in the league but ultimately Liverpool should have far too much for their opponents and are strongly fancied to finish with a win at Anfield.
Liverpool's players will know it is their final chance to impress ahead of the Champions League final in a fortnight and the hosts can be expected to finish with a flourish. Liverpool's last four home league victories have seen them win both halves and they should be able to pick off a Brighton side with little to play for and a poor away record. The Reds put five past their opponents earlier this season and another convincing win looks likely.
Kevin Friend takes charge of this match and the referee has only handed out one red card this season. The official also sent off just two players in the previous campaign so the chances of another dismissal this weekend appear slim.
Salah needs just one goal to set a new record for most Premier League goals in a 38-game season (currently on 31). The Egyptian, who has not scored in his last two league games, is just 1/3 to net against Brighton.
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Simon Mail's 2017/18 P/L