Good afternoon! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole
for today's late Premier League kickoff as Liverpool
host Brighton & Hove Albion
Liverpool have the chance to steal an early march on Manchester City in the title race having seen the champions slip up at Wolves in the early game today, but they cannot afford to look too far past Brighton if they are to avoid falling to a similar fate to Manchester United.
The hosts will be favourites to maintain their 100% start to the season, though, and could move back to the top of the Premier League table should that be the case.
Let's start with a look at the team news...
LIVERPOOL STARTING XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Wijnaldum, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane
LIVERPOOL SUBS: Mignolet, Henderson, Sturridge, Moreno, Lallana, Shaqiri, Matip
BRIGHTON STARTING XI: Ryan; Montoya, Duffy, Balogun, Bong; Knockaert, Stephens, Propper, March, Bissouma; Murray
BRIGHTON SUBS: Button, Bernardo, Suttner, Jahanbakhsh, Kayal, Gross, Locadia
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
That seems to be Jurgen Klopp's philosophy in the opening stages of this season as he names an unchanged side for the third match in a row, with Liverpool having won the previous two without conceding a goal.
What that does mean is that a number of big names once again miss out, with captain Jordan Henderson, new signing Xherdan Shaqiri, in-form Daniel Sturridge and Joel Matip all named on the bench, while Fabinho once again misses out on a place in the matchday squad entirely.
There have been very few reasons for Klopp to switch things up in truth, with this XI performing impressively during the opening stages of the season - not least summer arrival Naby Keita who appears to have slotted straight into life at the club.
Alisson has also looked solid when called upon so far and will look to maintain his record of never having conceded a competitive goal for Liverpool today. In front of him, Van Dijk is another who has been in imperious form at the start of this season and a good partnership with Gomez appears to be blossoming in the heart of that defence.
It is the front three which continues to be Liverpool's main attraction, though, and while Mohamed Salah
and Firmino shared most of the plaudits last season, so far this term they have gone to Sadio Mane, who is the joint leading scorer in the Premier League after three games.
Salah is also off the mark already, but Firmino is yet to score in the new campaign and has just one goal in his last nine league appearances for the club - although his contribution to the team cannot be quantified by just goals.
I have already mentioned Keita's bright start to life at the club, but it is the form of Milner and Wijnaldum in the centre of midfield which is also keeping Henderson out of the team and Fabinho out of the squad.
Milner's penalty in Monday night's 2-0 win over Crystal Palace means that he is just one goal away from 50 in the Premier League, and he has not been on the losing side in any of the 48 matches in which he has scored in the division - a league record he continues to extend.
There are threats all over the park for Brighton to contend with, then, but they will be hopeful of causing Liverpool a few problems themselves today and Glenn Murray is likely to be key to that.
The veteran striker was a real handful against Manchester United last weekend and capped his performance off with an impudent goal to help his side to a famous three points, so it is no surprise to see him lead the line again today.
Shane Duffy was also on the scoresheet during that win at the Amex, but interestingly the third goalscorer - Pascal Gross - is left on the bench for today's game.
It is perhaps a sign of caution from manager Chris Hughton, but Gross was one of Brighton's best players last term and certainly their most creative player in the final third. He is replaced today by Bissouma, who makes his first Premier League start for the club.
There is also a full Premier League debut for Leon Balogun, who joined in the summer and was also part of Nigeria's World Cup squad in Russia.
This may be a baptism of fire for Balogun, but Hughton's hand was forced to some extent after Lewis Dunk picked up an ankle injury during the win over United. Dunk is absent from the squad altogether today.
The introductions of Balogun and Bissouma are the only two made by Hughton for today's game, with Montoya continuing in place of injured captain Bruno at right-back.
It was the midfield pairing of Stephens and Propper who really led the charge for Brighton against United last time out, and it will be interesting to see whether the visitors are bold enough to try similarly aggressive pressing tactics against this Liverpool side.
United may have finished a couple of places above Liverpool last season, but teams such as Brighton will feel a lot safer pushing high up against Jose Mourinho's side than they would Jurgen Klopp's, particularly here at Anfield.
Klopp has created a very attacking team lead by that deadly front three and he encourages them to pour forward whenever possible, so if Brighton do come into this game with similar tactics to the last one then they will need to get them spot on, otherwise it could play directly into Liverpool's hands.
Liverpool were tipped as the main challengers to Manchester City's title before this season began, and the very early signs suggest that that could indeed be the case, with the problems of recent years seemingly being addressed over the past two transfer windows.
The Reds are the only team in the Premier League yet to concede a goal this season, with the major weak point that was their defence being strengthened an enormous amount by the arrivals of Alisson and Van Dijk.
Liverpool could leapfrog Manchester City back to the top of the table with victory today after the champions slipped up against Wolves in the early kickoff, while also making it two wins from two here at Anfield so far this season.
The Reds' opening encounter with West Ham turned out to be more straightforward than they may have feared against a Hammers team that had invested heavily during the summer, cruising to a 4-0 victory courtesy of goals from Salah, Mane (2) and Sturridge - the biggest win of the opening weekend.
Monday night brought a very different test in the form of Crystal Palace, and the Eagles held their own for long spells of that match at Selhurst Park, but the end result was another win and another clean sheet for the Reds as goals at the end of either half wrapped up a 2-0 triumph.
Liverpool have now won three Premier League games on the bounce without conceding a goal, scoring 10 without reply in the process.
Indeed, the first of those three successive victories came against Brighton as Liverpool ran out 4-0 winners in their final game of last season, and another win today would see them make it four on the bounce for the first time since January.
Liverpool failed to keep four successive Premier League clean sheets at any stage last season, meanwhile, so another shutout today would be their best defensive run since the final four games of the 2016-17 campaign.
Liverpool have a particularly good record here at Anfield too, winning their last two matches by a 4-0 scoreline - including that one against today's opponents last season - and going 11 matches unbeaten across all competitions.
Eight of those 11 matches have ended in victory for the Reds, but perhaps most impressive they have kept eight clean sheets in their last nine competitive home games, conceding only twice in the process.
It is a similar story looking at the Premier League alone, where Liverpool have not conceded a goal at Anfield since the 4-1 win over West Ham in February - a run of six clean sheets in a row. The Reds have not kept seven on the bounce since February 2007 under Rafael Benitez.
Liverpool were the only Premier League team to go through last season without losing at home, with their current league unbeaten streak here stretching back 22 games to April 2017.
That is the size of the task facing Brighton today, then, and it does not get any easier when you consider just how poor the Seagulls were away from home last season.
Chris Hughton's side posted the worst away record in the entire division during 2017-18, with just 11 of their 40 points coming on the road. They won just two games and scored only two goals on their travels, which were both also league-low marks.
Brighton arrive on Merseyside still winless away from home in 2018 - indeed their miserable streak stretches back to November, taking in 14 matches which include 10 defeats and only four draws, while failing to score in 10 of those matches too.
Indeed, their miserly tally of two victories last season are their only top-flight away wins in their last 27 attempts - a run which stretches back to February 1983.
The Seagulls have only picked up one point from the last 18 pon offer on the road too, scoring just once in their last four games - although that goal did come against Manchester City.
Brighton's only away game so far this season saw them come up against Watford on the opening weekend, when a Roberto Pereyra brace condemned them to a 2-0 defeat at Vicarage Road.
Chris Hughton admitted after that match that he was worried about his side's performance, which looked like it would be particularly costly ahead of back-to-back games against Manchester United and Liverpool.
However, the Seagulls kickstarted their season in stunning fashion last weekend with a famous victory over the Red Devils, scoring all of their goals in the first half as they held on for a 3-2 victory in their opening home game of the campaign.
That win means that both of Brighton's two wins from their last 11 Premier League outings have both come at home to Manchester United, and it should send them into this match full of confidence of claiming another major scalp earlier in the season.
Such a feat should not be downplayed, though. Aside from their wins over United, Brighton have lost six and drawn three of their last 11 outings and their priority this season is once again to stay up first and foremost, having finished 15th last term with seven points separating them from the bottom three in the end.
Indeed, to give some idea of how impressive it would be for Brighton to beat Manchester United and Liverpool succession, it helps to know that they have only managed back-to-back top-flight victories once since 1982.
That occasion came last season with triumphs over Swansea and Arsenal in February and March, but it is a very rare achievement for the Seagulls even when facing opposition more on their level.
Chris Hughton does not have a great record against the 'big-six' either, particularly away from home where he has lost his last 12 such matches as a manager, conceding 38 goals and scoring just three.
The worst of those defeats have come against Liverpool too - indeed, he has lost all five of his Premier League meetings with Liverpool as a manager and conceded at least four goals in each of those. Hughton fell to 5-2, 5-0 and 5-1 defeats in charge of Norwich, and then suffered that 4-0 drubbing last season.
Right, we're 10 minutes away from kickoff at Anfield, which means that it is time for a prediction!
Brighton pulled off a major shock with the win over United last weekend, but it is hard to see them repeating that today. Liverpool are very good here at Anfield whereas the Seagulls do not travel well at all, so I am going for a fairly comfortably home win.
SPORTS MOLE SAYS: Liverpool 3-0 Brighton
Should Brighton manage to pull off a second successive shock - and an even bigger one this time around considering it comes at Anfield - then it would be their first win over Liverpool since an FA Cup fourth-round tie in January 1984.
Liverpool are unbeaten in their seven meetings since, winning each of the last five in a row.
Brighton can point to an element of bad luck in recent meetings between the two sides - they have scored three own goals in their last three games against the Reds - but it cannot be solely luck which has seen them only ever pick up one league win at Anfield.
That solitary victory came in March 1982 when Andy Ritchie scored the only goal of the game, but seven of their other eight league visits here have ended in defeat.
It is often a fairly heavy defeat too; the Seagulls have conceded 16 goals on their last four visits to Anfield - an average of four per game - and in the last three meetings home and away Liverpool have scored 15 times.
A whopping nine of those came last season, with that 4-0 on the final day of the campaign being preceded by a 5-1 triumph at the Amex in early December. Those nine goals came from eight different goalscorers too, including an own goal from Dunk.
Right, the players are out and we're just about ready to go here. A reminder of the team news before we do get started...
LIVERPOOL STARTING XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Wijnaldum, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane
BRIGHTON STARTING XI: Ryan; Montoya, Duffy, Balogun, Bong; Knockaert, Stephens, Propper, March, Bissouma; Murray
KICKOFF: Here we go, then! Brighton get us underway at Anfield!
Unsurprisingly it is Liverpool who have seen all of the early possession, and the game already seems to have fallen into a familiar pattern. Brighton are just out to contain Liverpool today.
Big chance for Liverpool to take an early lead here! Mane plays the ball down the right for Salah, who cuts inside and is given the time to tee the ball up for Mane.
The in-form winger tries to just pass his finish into the bottom corner, but it goes narrowly wide of the post.
SAVE! Brighton respond with their first chance of the match, though, as Knockaert collects the ball on the right and cuts inside before going for goal. It is easy enough for Alisson to gather, but a good response from the visitors nonetheless.
Liverpool are playing some quick, slick football already here and there have been one or two signs that Brighton will struggle to contain the hosts today, even with their five-man midfield.
Liverpool do nearly take the lead, but it take a brilliant stop from Ryan to deny Firmino his first goal of the season!
Robertson swings a perfect cross into the box which Firmino meets with a really good downward header, but Ryan shows incredible reactions to claw it away. Superb stop.
Liverpool players and fans tentatively claim for a handball after another Robertson cross struck Propper on the way through, but the referee immediately shakes his head.
Alisson gets away with one here; he comes charging off his line out to the right edge of his area and dives in, but doesn't win it from March. March gets the ball caught under his feet, though, and ends up inadvertently knocking it behind for a goal kick.
Keita charges down the middle and weighs up his options before being brought down by Stephens right on the edge of the box. Free kick to Liverpool in a very dangerous position...
OFF THE BAR! Alexander-Arnold takes it and curls an effort towards the goalkeeper's side, but his strike crashes off the crossbar.
Salah pokes the ball through one defender's legs for Alexander-Arnold to run on to, but his attempted pass is deflected into the arms of the keeper from outside the area.
Liverpool have the chance to launch a trademark counter as Keita stabs the ball into the path of Mane, but the latter's pass inside towards Firmino is behind him and a good attacking platform breaks down before it has really begun.
Keita drops a pass in behind the defence for Salah to run on to, and he reaches the byline but has no-one in the middle and nowhere else to go, so fires a low cross into the gloves of Ryan.
Murray has doe a good job of holding the ball up for Brighton so far, but that is about all he has been able to do so far. Not many signs of Brighton coming forward since that early Knockaert shot.
GOAL! LIVERPOOL 1-0 BRIGHTON (MOHAMED SALAH)
Liverpool have the opening goal midway through the half, and it stems from some typical pressing from the hosts!
Brighton play a free kick short from deep inside their own half, and a couple of passes between two players ends up with Bissouma being caught in possession by Milner. Firmino then immediately gives the ball to Salah, who just passes the ball into the bottom corner with a cool finish.
Ruthless from the Reds.
That is a deserved lead for Liverpool, but Chris Hughton will not be happy. The game had just gone into a bit of a lull, Anfield was quiet and Brighton were beginning to look comfortable, but then they shot themselves in the foot.
Important challenge from Balogun as Salah, Firmino and Mane all link up to almost create another chance. Salah is eventually stopped in his tracks on the edge of the box, though.
Mane may have stolen the early-season headlines, but Salah is still the main man for Liverpool...
Lovely skill from Wijnaldum as he juggles the ball away from a couple of players before bursting forward and being brought down by Montoya.
SAVE! Wijnaldum is involved again here as Milner feed a clever pass into the Dutchman inside the area, allowing him to turn and get a shot away. Ryan is there to parry it behind at the front post, though.
Here is Liverpool's opening goal in all its glory. A vintage Jurgen Klopp goal, this...
CHANCE! Another sweeping move from Liverpool as Salah spreads the ball out to Robertson, who fires a first-time cross into the middle. Mane throws himself at it, but it comes off his chest and then his foot before breaking into the hands of the keeper.
Confident goalkeeper from Alisson as he comes off his line to deal with a dangerous corner into the box. Liverpool immediately look to counter, but Alexander-Arnold's pass is poor.
Alisson takes a gamble here, allowing Murray to get too close for comfort before passing the ball to Gomez. He does get the ball away, though, and Murray concedes a foul in the process.
Just five minutes remaining in this first half now and Liverpool look in control of the game. They will want a second goal to make themselves more comfortable, though, and probably should have it already.
Liverpool are just keeping the ball at the moment, in no rush to push for that second goal at the end of this second half. Brighton haven't touched the ball for a few minutes now.
SHOT! Liverpool do finally up the tempo as Robertson does well to win the ball back from Montoya before teeing up Firmino, who curls one towards goal from outside the box but sends it over the crossbar.
There will be two minutes of added time at the end of this first half.
HALF TIME: LIVERPOOL 1-0 BRIGHTON
The first half comes to an end at Anfield and it is Liverpool who lead at the interval following a dominant display against Brighton so far.
The Reds could have easily been more than one goal ahead, but Brighton have limited the damage so far and, as long as it stays at 1-0, they will still be in the match.
No prizes for guessing who scored the only goal of the game so far, with Mohamed Salah breaking the deadlock midway through the first half courtesy of a sumptuous finish across goal and into the bottom corner.
James Milner deserves huge credit for winning the ball back high up the pitch in the first place, and Mane and Firmino then combined to work it to Salah, who guided a lovely finish in off the far post.
Liverpool have created all of the other good chances in this game too, with Mat Ryan keeping the scores down courtesy of a brilliant save to deny Firmino's header and Mane passing a finish just wide of the target after only five minutes.
Alexander-Arnold has also crashed a free kick against the crossbar and Wijnaldum has seen one shot saved as Liverpool go in search of that second goal which would all-but wrap up the three points for Liverpool on the evidence of that first half.
Brighton's only sight of goal so far came after just six minutes when Knockaert drew a routine stop from Alisson and, while they will be fairly content with how things stand now compared to how they could have been, they need to start showing more going forward.
Liverpool have not conceded a Premier League goal here since February, and there aren't many signs of that changing today.
KICKOFF: Liverpool get us back underway for the second half here at Anfield!
Big chance for Brighton at the start of this second half! Knockaert plays the ball down the channel for Murray, who shows good strength to hold off Wijnaldum before breaking into the box and squeezing a cross into the middle.
It is only cleared as far as Knockaert, but he cannot wrap his foot around the ball enough and fires it off target.
That chance should act as a warning shot for Liverpool - as long as this game is 1-0, Brighton are still in it. The hosts need a cushion to set their minds completely at ease here.
Bissouma skews an awkward clearance high in the air and it drops inside his own box, with a crowd of bodies underneath it. Ryan comes storming out to try to claim it but runs straight into Firmino, and it is Brighton who get the free kick.
Firmino stays down, but looks like he will be alright to continue.
Sure enough, Firmino does trot back onto the field after replacing his sock, which was left torn at the heel following that collision.
Milner overhits a cross into the box but Robertson does not give up on it and manages to get to it at the back post. The full-back is sliding, though, and cannot turn it back into a dangerous area.
Liverpool have a couple of chances to break in quick succession, but on both occasions it is the unlikely figure of Salah who wastes them with wayward passes.
Liverpool want a penalty as Salah squeezes a shot away which does hit the arm of Duffy, but it came off the Brighton man's thigh first and there was minimal distance between the two players.
YELLOW CARD! Balogun comes storming into Milner at full throttle, going right through the Liverpool man. He is a little fortunate to only pick up a yellow card for that.
CHANCE! One from the training ground from Liverpool as Milner plays it short to Salah, who clips his cross into the box having created a better angle. Gomez rises to meet it, but plants his header straight at the keeper.
Liverpool have just got a little sloppy in the last few minutes, and Brighton's belief will continue to grow as the clock ticks on and the deficit is only one. Changes could be incoming from Klopp sooner rather than later.
Good chance for Brighton here as they win a free kick in a very dangerous position...
Bissouma drills it towards goal with plenty of power, but the wall does its job and the ball deflects behind for a corner.
LIVERPOOL SUB: Liverpool make their first change of the afternoon as Jordan Henderson replaces Keita.
Anfield goes wild for a ridiculous piece of skill from Alisson, who flicks the ball over the head of an incoming striker and calmly passes it on. The Liverpool fans loved that!
CHANCE! Firmino collects the ball off Salah and does well to work space to shoot inside the area, but his eventual effort is tame and easy for Ryan to gather.
Liverpool have just tried to be a bit too intricate at times today, with Mane, Salah and Firmino combining again here but not getting a shot away. It almost breaks to Wijnaldum too, but Balogun steps in.
The second goal almost arrives via an own goal as Henderson channels his inner Alisson by flicking the ball over his marker before finding Robertson.
Robertson fires a low cross into the box which Duffy sticks out a leg to try to intercept, sending it trickling just past his own post.
Liverpool are certainly looking the more likely to go and get the second goal here - as they have all afternoon. They have regained control over the game since Henderson came on and almost get a chance here as a cross from the left finds it way through to Mane, who is thwarted when just about to pull the trigger.
BRIGHTON SUBS: Double change for the visitors here as Jurgen Locadia and Alireza Jahanbakhsh replace March and Knockaert.
YELLOW CARD! Alexander-Arnold cuts up his record of being booked in every game so far this season with a cynical tug to prevent a counter.
Nervy moments for Liverpool as they fail to deal with a Brighton corner, which bounces around the box momentarily before being hacked away. That could have gone anywhere.
LIVERPOOL SUB: Liverpool make another change here as Daniel Sturridge replaces Mane.
BRIGHTON SUB: The visitors make their third and final change, with Pascal Gross coming on for Bissouma.
Alisson has taken a few risks today, and they are great when they come off, but this time Murray reads his intentions and almost makes the tackle. One risk too many from the Liverpool keeper.
This game is by no means over. Brighton are pressing Liverpool more now than they were in the opening stages and you can just sense the visitors' belief starting to grow now. Will Liverpool be made to rue not getting that second goal?
Just over five minutes remaining now and it is all about game management for Liverpool now. They have not been at their best here, playing slowly than usual and allowing complacency to creep into their game, but they do deserve all three points from this one.
CLOSE! Liverpool are close to that elusive second goal as Milner clips a pass over the top for Robertson, who in turn drops it back for Alexander-Arnold. The full-back takes his time before going for goal, and his eventual effort takes a deflection on its way narrowly past the post.
Salah swings the resulting corner into the near post and Wijnaldum produces a Zola-esque flick to turn the ball goalwards. Duffy makes a vital block, though, before Murray is able to hack it away.
The ball comes straight back at Brighton, though, and Salah finds himself with space to advance into the area, but this time he gets his finish all wrong.
Big chance for Brighton to steal a point from Anfield!
Gross ghosts into the box between two central defenders to meet a cross with a head towards goal, but Alisson is on his toes to make a crucial save!
LIVERPOOL SUB: Klopp calls for extra height here and on comes Joel Matip for Alexander-Arnold.
There will be three minutes of added time at the end of this match.
FULL TIME: LIVERPOOL 1-0 BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION
It is all over at Anfield, then, and it is Liverpool who come away with all three points - but they were made to work for them by Brighton today.
Mohamed Salah's goal proves to be the difference at Anfield, but Liverpool were short of their best and almost threw two points away at the death when they needed Alisson to pull off a smart save to deny Gross. Brighton come away with no points from this game, but plenty of encouragement.
Right, that is all we have time for this evening!
Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for today's match as Liverpool win ugly against Brighton to maintain their 100% start to the new season, climbing top of the table in the process. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for reaction too.
From me, though, it is goodbye for now!