Propelled forward by Abdoulaye Doucouré, who scored a brace, Everton gave themselves the sort of shocking result that could surely be enough to stave off the threat of relegation for another season.
Depending on the results elsewhere there may be more to do – and Manchester City are Sean Dyche’s next opponent – but Everton are now outside the bottom three after Leicester City saw five at Fulham earlier in the day. Absolutely no one saw that 5-1 victory at Amex Stadium coming.
For Liverpool, as well as watching with interest over the future of its city rivals, there was Brighton’s more immediately pressing concern – a side seven points adrift of the Reds at kick-off, but then with three (and now two) games in hand .
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The defeat to Everton means that Brighton’s Champions League hopes – or rather, the hopes of finishing above Liverpool – are no longer in the hands of Roberto de Zerbi’s men.
Brighton also has Newcastle, Arsenal and Manchester City to play, as well as Southampton and Aston Villa, meaning on paper it has the toughest run of any European chasing team.
However, the defeat shows that nothing can be taken for granted at this point in the campaign. Liverpool need more surprising results, but no one would have seen Everton on the horizon with three at half-time.
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Manchester United are perhaps the most likely side to slip. A repeat of Everton’s surprise win would be nice, but it wouldn’t even be necessary. Liverpool – as long as it can avoid shocks and win the last three games – doesn’t even need Erik ten Hag’s men to lose; only to sign, albeit twice.
Would Manchester United’s draw with two Wolves (H), Bournemouth (A), Chelsea (H) and Fulham (H) be such a big surprise? Not as much as Everton won so comfortably at high-flying Brighton.
Newcastle would drop points in three games, with games against Leeds United (A), Brighton (H), Leicester (H) and Chelsea (A) coming up to end the campaign. That would be even more of a surprise, and would require a bit more breaking down, but even that is possible.
At the back of the Premier League, especially in a season where things are so tight in almost all areas of the table, anything can happen. All Jurgen Klopp’s side can do is keep winning, and Liverpool are hoping for more shocks.
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