Liverpool vs Southampton
Referee: Paul Tierney
Liverpool play host to Southampton this weekend, as the Reds look to extend their perfect start to the 2018/19 Premier League campaign to six wins out of six.
Jurgen Klopp’s men will be full of confidence after their last week of football, managing to take three points off both Spurs and PSG in the Premier League and Champions League respectively.
While supposedly on a tough run of games, Liverpool seem to be dealing with the pressure perfectly and Southampton will have to produce a very special performance to beat Klopp’s side on their home turf, especially considering the strength, depth and confidence that this current Liverpool team presently possess.
Mark Hughes will be bitterly disappointed after Monday’s result, throwing away a two-goal lead and barely scraping a point. Southampton had the highest amount of draws across Europe’s top five leagues (15) last season, and with two draws in five games it seems as though this issue is still lingering and requires some serious attention.
Southampton haven’t defeated Liverpool away in the league since 21st September 2013, and with the current predicaments of these two sides, it is likely this barren run is set to continue.
This will be a game of many familiar faces, with players such as Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane holding fond memories from their time with the team from the south coast. However, on the returning end, Danny Ings went through an injury-stricken spell at Liverpool which saw him watching mainly from the sidelines and warranted a move to the Saints in hope of game-time. Whilst Ings is ineligible for the game at Anfield, two goals in three games for the Englishman has been a promising start to his time on the south coast.
Liverpool’s injury list currently consists of Dejan Lovren and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain; two players who would arguably struggle to return back into the starting XI.
Klopp’s transformation of the club into a powerful squad with excellent options on the bench such as Keita, Fabinho and Shaqiri have made it difficult for returners to make their way back into the first-team squad.
After Daniel Sturridge’s goal and performance in the Champions League, Jurgen Klopp will have major dilemmas on who to start up front.
One player who Klopp will perhaps be reconsidering for the game is Mohamed Salah. Last season’s wonderboy has been under-performing by his record-breaking standards from the last campaign, and his attitude is questionable after what looked like an act of frustration after Firmino’s winner against PSG on Tuesday; a hint of selfishness?
However, with 29 goals in 30 home games, Mo Salah is still up there with one of the best in the league. Team selection will be an interesting one for Liverpool fans on Saturday.
One player who is really proving his worth is Virgil van Dijk. After becoming the most expensive defender ever to grace the game of football, there were many questions surrounding the Dutch international. However, his ability on the ball, in the air, commanding nature in the heart of defence and calmness on the ball seems to be exactly what this Liverpool team have needed. Coupled this with the introduction of Alisson Becker between the sticks, and Liverpool’s defence is no longer something to be exploited, but rather a unit to be feared.
For the past two weeks Southampton have been graced with a side with no injuries or suspensions, which can only be a credit to Mark Hughes and the backroom staff. However, with availability comes the pressures of picking the right squad. The Saints have not taken full advantage of their fully fit side, taking only five points from the first five games of the season, and will have a difficult task in trying to take anything away from Anfield.
Having only managed one win out of their first five games of the season, the Saints sit firmly in the bottom half of the table. Mark Hughes seems to be the man who will save the Saints from relegation but that seems to be the extent of his abilities. Southampton’s issue hasn’t been scoring goals and gaining the lead in games, it’s been retaining the lead. Monday’s performance against Brighton was a display of control and confidence until Southampton scored their second goal. After their second goal they looked panicked, which led to Brighton gaining a draw out of the game; an issue that Mark Hughes needs to address with serious urgency.
Two stand out players for the Saints this season have been new signing, Danny Ings and last seasons signing Pierre Hojbjerg. Hojbjerg has impressed the fans on the south coast with his work ethic and ability on the ball, and adding to his favour is he has introduced scoring goals into his game, scoring two goals in his last two appearances for the Saints.
Predicted Starting XI’s
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Wijnaldum, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Southampton: McCarthy; Cedric, Vestergaard, Hoedt, Bertrand; El Younoussi, Hojbjerg, Lemina, Redmond; Ings, Austin.
Prediction: Liverpool 4 Southampton 0
Even considering the recent onslaught of games for Liverpool, it is difficult to see any other result than Southampton getting thumped. The confidence and quality brimming from the Liverpool team is more than enough to see off an under-performing Southampton side at Anfield.