There are so many reasons to love Brighton: the Bella Union record shop, a general vibe of tolerance and inclusivity, the steak bulgogi. And then there’s the football club. Pound for pound, Brighton might be the best and most exciting team in England right now.
The side that walloped Liverpool a fortnight ago cost just £31m, which is about half of what they’ve been offered for Moises Caicedo alone, and since Christmas they have scored 19 goals in six games. It would be an insult to Graham Potter to say that Brighton have gone to the next level under Roberto De Zerbi – but they have gone to a different, more invigorating one.
Last season Potter took Brighton to their highest-ever top-flight finish of ninth. Brighton could yet top that – they are currently sixth – but what De Zerbi would really love to do is win their first major trophy. They have only reached one FA Cup final, a story we all know well – forty years later, Smith still must score.
On the way to the final in 1982-83, Brighton took out the champions Liverpool in the fifth round, when Jimmy Case scored a spectacular winner against his old club and Phil Neal missed a penalty before retreating instantly to his station like an obedient Labrador.
Liverpool will return to the Amex Stadium with maybe one part trepidation, three parts determination. Jurgen Klopp called their performance the worst of any team throughout his managerial career. They don’t necessarily have a score to settle, but they certainly have a wrong to right.
Kick off 1.30pm