Liverpool currently lie 9th in the Premier League table, with two games in hand on Sunday’s opponents. A win at the weekend would therefore go a long way in Liverpool’s pursuit of a top five finish, given that the Champions League places seem too much to ask for the side with what remains of the season. Liverpool are looking to win four successive Premier League games for the first time since March last year. In recent weeks, they have produced some terrific performances, showing a lot more of an attacking edge to cause teams numerous problems with the trio of Lallana, Coutinho and Firmino. The Brazilians in particular have combined well on occasions to outclass the opposition and get Liverpool building up ahead of steam.
In their last match, the Reds drew 1-1 with Manchester United in the Europa League, which saw them progress to the last eight of the competition. Jurgen Klopp’s side were by far the better team in the first leg at Anfield, recording a 2-0 win which gave them a good advantage heading into the tie. However, Anthony Martial’s 32nd minute penalty offered Manchester United hope after he was fouled by Nathaniel Clyne.
Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata both missed opportunities in the match but Liverpool remained a threat with David De Gea making a number of key saves against Philippe Coutinho while Daniel Sturridge hit the bar with a free kick and Jordan Henderson missed an open goal. Liverpool got their all important away goal when Coutinho impressively beat Guillermo Varela with ease before lifting a chip past De Gea at the near post. The goal ended the contest and ensured the Reds progressed to the next round, adding further confidence to a side who have progressed well under Klopp’s leadership.
Liverpool are unbeaten in their last eight matches in all competitions (W5 D3). They have scored a total of 13 goals in their last four away league games, and will be threatening to add to their tally on Sunday with the increasing form of Roberto Firmino. Christian Benteke needs one more goal to reach 50 in the Premier League. He has scored in each of his last two league games against the Saints.
In his pre-match press conference, Jurgen Klopp stated that “The problem with confidence is that it’s a little flower and if you step on it it’s gone in a second. But it’s not only about confidence, it’s about feeling more and more trust in our way of playing. Everything is prepared for a good game. mpton are a really good side and if we want to win we have to be really good.”
Southampton currently lie 8th in the Premier League, one place ahead of Sunday’s opponents. The Saints have lost just one of their last six Premier League games at St Mary’s (W4 D1) and have often proved very difficult to beat at home. Koeman’s side will head into the game with high confidence of getting a result, having won 20 points from their last 10 games. Only Leicester (23) and Tottenham (22) have claimed more points.
Southampton will certainly pose a threat to Liverpool’s defence at the weekend, given their threat on the counter attack as well as their aerial ability. They have scored a league high of 12 headed goals this season and Liverpool’s susceptibility from set pieces could be exposed at St Mary’s to halt their current run of form. However, they have gone two games without a win and thus Jurgen Klopp will be hoping to continue Liverpool’s recent good form and re-create a similar performance as the terrific win against Southampton in the Cup.
In his pre-match press conference, Ronald Koeman stated that “I expect a difficult one. They have a really strong team, a lot of options and they’ve had two really good results against Manchester United in the Europa League. It was a must win game for us against Stoke and it is the same again this weekend.”
Head To Head
Liverpool won 6-1 on their last visit to St Mary’s in the League Cup earlier in the season. In addition, they have also won on their last two Premier League visits. The Saints haven’t lost three successive league games at home to Liverpool since December 1996.
Alberto Moreno will have another scan on his hamstring after suffering an injury which ruled him out of Thursday’s Europa League tie against Manchester United. James Milner will remain sidelined through suspension.
Southampton will be boosted by the return of Sadio Mane after his successful appeal against the red card he received against Stoke City last weekend. Victor Wanyama returns to the side after serving a five game suspension while Jose Fonte is also available after a ban.
Predicted Line Up
Simon Mignolet hasn’t had too much to do in recent weeks given the impressive partnership of Mamadou Sakho and Dejan Lovren but when the Belgian has been called into action he’s coped relatively well and thus should retain his place for Sunday’s league tie. Defensively, Jon Flanagan was unable to take part on Thursday and given the continued injury issues of Alberto Moreno, I expect him to get a chance in the starting line up. Nathaniel Clyne is likely to remain at right back following his performance against United.
I’ve stuck with Henderson and Can in the middle of the park given their importance to the side. The German midfielder has becoming increasingly crucial to the way Liverpool play and with the Reds wanting to propel themselves up the league table, I don’t see him being dropped on Sunday.
Despite having a fixture on Thursday, going forward I wouldn’t make any real changes to the side other than bring in Divock Origi for Daniel Sturridge whose fitness is still needing some work. The Belgian forward has impressed when called upon and his energy and pace could be key to the outcome of the tie. However there has been strong rumours that Firmino is injured after being taken out the Brazilian squad, so we could see potentially Ibe or Benteke coming in.
That being said, Jurgen Klopp is probably going to make a number of changes to the side given the midweek affair.
Prediction: Southampton 1-2 Liverpool