Q&ANew boss, Europe dream and Lallana - the view from Brighton
Liverpool return to Premier League action this Saturday by hosting a Brighton & Hove Albion side embarking on a new era.
Almost a month on from their last top-flight fixture, the Reds take on the Seagulls, who are set to contest their first game under Roberto De Zerbi.
The Italian was appointed earlier this month following Graham Potter’s switch to the Chelsea dugout, with Brighton having taken 13 points from their opening six league matches this season.
For the lowdown on this weekend’s opposition, we spoke to Brighton fan Simon Tipple about the campaign so far, the team’s key figures, former Liverpool man Adam Lallana and more…
Six games in and Brighton are sitting fourth in the Premier League. How happy and impressed have you been with the season so far?
Very happy and very impressed! I thought we were outstanding at Old Trafford on the opening weekend. Fulham was a bad night but we bounced back by absolutely hammering Leicester last time out. It’s that time of the season where you can dare to dream… and we know it’s a dream, but could we challenge for Europe? It’s nice to have that dream, but we know it’s a long season, there’s a very tough run of games coming up and realistically another season without having to worry about the threat of relegation would be lovely!
What’s the current mood among Brighton fans following the departure of Graham Potter and appointment of Roberto De Zerbi?
I don’t think anyone could argue with the job Graham did here. He took over a side that finished 17th and has left us in fourth place. There have been spells during that process, though, that were very frustrating at times. Towards the end of last season, though, and continuing into this season, everything seemed to finally start to come together. The 5-2 win against Leicester felt like a moment where everything we’ve been building towards under Graham Potter came together. So for him to leave just a few days later was really tough to accept. That said, the progress our club has been making is a sum of all of its parts. The way the club is run off the pitch has laid the foundations, and we have the best squad of players we’ve probably ever had. Having watched plenty of clips of De Zerbi’s Sassuolo and Shakhtar sides it looks like he’ll be an evolution of what we’ve seen before, with perhaps more emphasis on controlling possession. He appears to have a very distinctive style and is very highly rated, so I think we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do.
From the fans’ perspective, what are the expectations this season?
To have another season where we’re not looking over our shoulders worrying about the bottom three. If we can finish around 10th, that’ll be another good season. We’d love to push on for Europe, but know it’ll be difficult.
Last season's league meetings with Brighton
Who has been your key player so far this season and why?
There’s so many deserving of a mention here. I have to mention both Pascal Gross and Alexis Mac Allister, who fully deserve to be in the conversation. For me, though, the key player right now is Moises Caicedo. It’s crazy to think he’s still only 20. We haven’t really missed Yves Bissouma too much yet – and a huge amount of credit has to go to both Alexis and Moises for the work they’ve been doing in midfield.
With the trip to Anfield De Zerbi’s first game in charge, do you expect major changes in tactics and set-up or a continuation for now?
I’d assume continuation. We’ve been playing very well, in a system we know very well. You’d imagine he’d want a bit of time to watch and learn about his new players before making major changes. That said, we could switch shape regularly under Graham Potter, so it probably wouldn’t be a big problem for the players if he changed the shape a bit.
Liverpool fans have great affection for Adam Lallana. What has he brought to Brighton since joining a couple of years ago?
He’s been great. It’s probably all very cliché, but he’s so experienced at the top level. I think he just brings that calmness, experience and leadership when he’s playing. Everything we hear suggests he’s fantastic in his standards in training and a great role model for the younger players at the club too.
And what’s your prediction for Saturday?
Liverpool 1-2 Albion.