Any Brighton & Hove Albion fan with a ticket for Saturday’s game against Liverpool will no doubt be licking their lips at the prospect of the current Premier League leaders coming to town.
There may be a little trepidation after some of the beatings dished out in recent years but there could be a small morsel of hope in that the Reds have a few injuries in defence.
However, goalkeeper Alisson and Virgil van Dijk should both be fit and that may make the difference.
Many pundits readily assumed Manchester City would continue their dominance of the Premier League from last year but Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has identified the positions he needed to strengthen and his board have backed him with the money.
They say goals win games and of course that is true but often it is a defence that wins you a title. Arsenal were once a club that prided itself on its solidity at the back. Partnerships at Manchester United such as Vidic and Ferdinand, Bruce and Pallister were often overlooked in terms of the impact they made as attacking players stole the headlines.
In Leicester City’s incredible Premier League title-winning campaign the Foxes only conceded 36 goals all season.
Klopp has been unlucky in that promising defender Joe Gomez is out long-term but it may well be his defence that wins him the title.
Salah, Firmino and Mane have scored more goals than the Seagulls put together but the Reds have conceded just 10 goals this season and we are already past the half-way stage of the season.
Clearly the Albion are not in a battle to win the title but they still have a job to do to stay in the division. A few fans including a caller to 606 recently have felt that manager Chris Hughton has been too negative.
I would say he is pragmatic. The success of recent years has been built on defensive resolve and that organisation remains the foundation for results. Ultimately any fan of any club wants their team to win and win playing attractive football.
That however, is simply not always possible. Even Pep Guardiola adopted a defensive approach late on to see out the win against Liverpool last week.
If a team like Brighton were to adopt a more gung-ho approach they would, on occasion, be ripped to shreds. Sometimes you will be ripped to shreds anyway.
Liverpool fans have been brought up on free-flowing football (as well as success in the 70s and 80s) and the core support appreciate good football but even they may well have to admit that the form and performances from their goalkeeper and centre-back may yet be key to delivering their first Premier League title in 29 years.
Seagulls fans may have to accept the bedrock of Maty Ryan, Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy will remain vital if they are to remain in the top-flight for a third consecutive season and beyond.
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To read more by Johnny Cantor, visit www.johnnycantor.com
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