Top of the table Liverpool welcome Southampton to Anfield this Saturday in a game that is sure to be a highly competitive encounter. Both teams head into the game by drawing their last match, with Liverpool drawing against Swansea and Southampton drawing with West Ham. Liverpool’s best start to a Premier League season sees them in top spot, one point clear of Arsenal and Tottenham. A win for the Reds will guarantee that they remain at the top of the league, and with the confidence that Brendan Rodgers’ team is showing, they will expect to get a favourable result. Southampton have had a decent start to the season and currently lie in 11th position. Pochettino’s men will hope they can cause an upset at Anfield and come away with a point or better.
Liverpool have had a few injuries this season, and the latest is Phillipe Coutinho, who is out with a shoulder injury until the end of October. He joins Glen Johnson, Aly Sissoko and Sebastian Coates, who are all out for the Reds. Daniel Agger faces a late fitness test to challenge Martin Skrtel, Kolo Toure and new signing Mamadou Sakho for a center-back spot. The match is the final game of Luis Suarez’s suspension. Southampton have two injury concerns, as left backs Luke Shaw and Danny Fox both face late fitness tests. Both players are out with foot injuries and Pochettino will hope that Shaw, in particular, will be fit to continue the good form he has shown this season.
Interestingly, Southampton have won four of their last six against Liverpool in the Premier League. At the same time, however, they’ve only won one in their last eight at Anfield. Liverpool are unbeaten in their last nine at Anfield, which makes Southampton’s task even more difficult. Both teams have only had two goal scorers this season: Daniel Sturridge and Victor Moses for Liverpool and Rickie Lambert and Jose Fonté for Southampton. Until Monday night’s game against Swansea, Liverpool had won all their games by a solitary goal from Daniel Sturridge. Southampton have only managed two goals in their four games, but one goal could be enough to get a result.
Reliance on Sturridge?
Liverpool have been reliant on Daniel Sturridge to score goals in the absence of Luis Suarez, and the England international has fulfilled the task excellently. The striker has scored in each of Liverpool’s league games this season, which is a club record. Sturridge has been in outstanding form since he arrived in January, scoring fourteen goals in eighteen league games for Liverpool. The striker’s clear cut chance conversion rate of 50% shows how deadly he has been in front of goal this season. In two games, he has had a shot accuracy of 100%, showing the quality that Sturridge has added to his game.
In order to keep Sturridge quiet, Southampton’s new signing Dejan Lovren will have to have a good game. The Croatian joined from Lyon in the summer, and has settled well into the heart of the Saint’s defence. He has had a busy start to his Southampton career, making thirty-four clearances in his first four games. Despite this, all of these clearances have been successful, showing how dependable he has been so far. He has also won 100% of his tackles in three of Southampton’s four games this season. He will have to be at his very best to prevent Sturridge and co. from continuing the start Liverpool have had to the season.
With Southampton struggling for goals and Liverpool in a confident mood, a Liverpool win seems the most likely result in this game. However, Pochettino’s men have set up well against the bigger teams in the league, and if they are able to get it right this weekend they could come away with a result. Liverpool had some trouble in their home fixtures last season, but, their two home wins this season have shown that they are looking for that to change. Based on the two teams’ form, I’m going for a 1-0 win to Liverpool.