Liverpool's quest to become the second centurions of English football history continues Wednesday when they face Brighton and Hove Albion at AMEX Stadium.
The champions broke down a stubborn Aston Villa squad late Sunday, recording a 2-0 victory to extend their Premier League-record home winning streak to 24 matches. Sadio Mane snapped a scoreless deadlock on 71 minutes, and 19-year-old Curtis Jones opened his league scoring account in the 89th minute to secure all three points.
The result left Liverpool (29-2-2) 11 points shy of 100 with five matches remaining, leaving them some margin of error during the run-in. The challenge now is dealing with a blip – by their standards at least – on the road, where they are 3-1-2 in their last six in league play bridging the COVID-enforced recess.
"Obviously after 13 weeks off we've now got three weeks of a lot of games, so that's what the squad is for," left back Andy Robertson told Liverpool's official website. "We made four subs today and every single one of them had a massive impact and we made three changes to the starting line-up, so we'll wait and see what the manager does on Wednesday.
"I'll be good to go and hopefully he picks me and hopefully we can have another positive performance."
Keeping the youth pipeline moving, Harvey Elliott signed his first senior contract with the club Monday, having been eligible to do since turning 17 in April. Elliott, who played 27 minutes in three substitute appearances last season for Fulham, has started six cup matches and come off the bench for two league matches for Liverpool this term.
"I think since the first day I've walked in, it's been an indescribable journey so far," Elliott said.
"I think now to top it off with my first professional contract is a dream come true for me and my family. I'm excited to see what the future holds and I'm just excited to give everything to the club and the fans."
Liverpool's top three attack options - Mane, Mohamed Salah, and Roberto Firmino - have totaled five goals in helping the Reds sweep all five top-flight meetings between the teams, but only Salah has been on of late with three goals in the last four matchups.
Brighton and Hove Albion (8-12-13) are inching closer to a fourth consecutive season in the top flight, having picked up three massive points Saturday with a 1-0 victory at last-place Norwich City. Leandro Trossard's goal on 25 minutes separated the sides, and the Seagulls limited the Canaries to one shot on target.
Graham Potter's club have claimed seven points in the four matches of Project Restart to move nine points clear of the drop in 15th place, and the Gulls gaffer has seen an upbeat mood heading into a challenging run-in that includes deposed champion Manchester City and every opponent currently above them in the table.
"It's amazing what points do to make things slightly easier," Potter said at his Monday press conference. "The guys have been really good. I try to put some perspective on things, try to understand that this is the Premier League and it is hard, especially when you transition from a previous coach, previous regime that has been here for four years and you are trying to change different things.
"In that transition, a lot of things can happen but generally I think we have stuck together, we have learnt a lot together and we will improve."
Brighton have taken 10 points off Big Six clubs this term, highlighted by their recently completed double over Arsenal. While containing Liverpool's attack, they were undone by their defenders – Trent Alexander-Arnold twice picked out talisman and centre back Virgil Van Dijk on set pieces in the first half.
Liverpool then survived Alisson being sent off for a deliberate handball outside the penalty area on 76 minutes and Lewis Dunk pulling one back for Brighton three minutes after that as the Reds won 2-1.
The Reds have won eight on the bounce in all competitions in this one-sided rivalry, with Brighton 0-1-9 since a 2-0 victory in the fourth round of the 1984 FA Cup.