Liverpool travel to St Mary’s to face Southampton on Saturday evening aiming to make it four wins out of their last four games. With an unbeaten start to 2014 for the Reds, Brendan Rodgers’ men now sit in a position which will fill the fans with much optimism. Southampton come into the game in decent form, sitting comfortably in the top half of the table and will want to put on a good display at home having played their last three fixtures away.
Liverpool edged Swansea 4-3 in a topsy-turvy game at Anfield in their last encounter. That win, coupled with Tottenham’s defeat to Norwich, has allowed The Reds establish a six point gap between 4th and 5th place. Although there are still 11 games to play and with nothing certain in a season like this one, Liverpool will still feel that securing that last Champions League spot is their priority. However, Rodgers’ men, being in the position they are, will be looking at the teams above them rather than the ones below, with the gap between them and first place Chelsea only four points now.
Southampton have been sitting comfortably just below the top seven teams for much of the season but have recently been taken over by Newcastle Utd and come into the game in 9th place. In their last 12 games, the Saints have won four, drawn four and lost four of their games, highlighting inconsistency as well as a growing team of budding youngsters. They will have been disappointed with the 3-1 loss in their last match to West Ham, having taken the lead early on in the match.
Since their return to the Premier League last season, they have had the better results in this fixture. In 2013, Southampton ran out 3-1 winners courtesy of goals from Schneiderlin, Lambert and Rodriguez. Liverpool’s only home defeat this season came against Southampton, with Lovren grabbing the winner in a 1-0 win. Liverpool will hope that they can stop the Saints completing the double against them this season and go into the game as the form team in the league.
Hooiveld is the only player missing from the Southampton team with an eye injury. Mauricio Pochettino probably won’t tinker with his team too much, even with the likes of Ramirez and Lovren coming back from injury.
Lucas and Sakho are back in training with injuries having kept them out of the side for much of the New Year. However, both will still be unavailable with match fitness the key to getting back into the team. Enrique is the only other player on the injury table with a long standing knee injury.
- Southampton have won 4 of their last 5 home meetings against Liverpool, all wins ending with a 2 goal difference.
- Daniel Sturridge as scored in 8 consecutive matches which is the joint second highest in Premier League history.
- Liverpool are currently highest scorers in the Premier League, with 70 goals, which is almost double Southampton who have scored 38.
- Southampton have dropped more points from winning positions than any other team in the Barclays Premier League this season (15).
- Liverpool have conceded the highest proportion of goals from headers of any team in the top flight this season (26%).
- Liverpool have scored the highest proportion of first half goals of any team in the Premier League this season (66%).
- Southampton are the only team to have won at Liverpool this season, and also the only team to have kept a clean sheet at Anfield so far.
Adam Lallana has picked the perfect season to be in great form especially with the World Cup around the corner. The tricky, quick-footed playmaker has been one of the main reasons why Southampton are in the position they are in the Premier League at the moment.
Lallana has shown his creativity throughout this season and his ability to use trickery and skill in the wide positions. He has also proved that he is capable of taking on any player, with 54 successful dribbles out of 97 attempted dribbles. Lallana also puts a shift in defensively with an average of winning the ball back for his team every 14 minutes. Making accurate passes and creating good chances is something that every attacking midfielder must have in their locker, which Lallana has produced this season, with 44 chances created at a rate of one every 50 minutes with 5 assists. Out of 1006 passes so far, Lallana has a decent passing accuracy rate of 83%.
If Lallana wants to get into the England side for the World Cup he must show that he is not only capable of providing goals, but the he can score goals as well, producing with seven goals in the league and an impressive conversion rate of 23%.
The 19 year old English winger has grown a huge amount in confidence since managing to breakthrough into first team back in December and he looks a real hot prospect for the England team in the future. Having scored five goals and made three assists in little over two months of first team action, it would be no shock if he joins the rest of the England squad to Brazil.
As mentioned already he has scored a few goals this season. His most notable goals this were the two he scored in their 5-1 hammering against Arsenal, with a conversion rate of 20% for the season so far. As well as Lallana, Sterling has been able to show his strength against bigger players and is more than capable of holding his own defensively, with a rate of 14 minutes per possession won back for his team.
It is pressure for someone as young as Sterling to have to provide support and service to players like Suarez and Sturridge but he has adapted brilliantly well with 31 chances created and six of them were clear cut. His last match against Swansea bought him another great assist for Daniel Sturridge with the outside of his foot, highlighting the confidence of the player who had been left out of the team early on in the season. The future is bright for this young man and if he can keep his feet on the ground he can play an important role for Liverpool in the present and England in the future.
Southampton will feel that they can again prove to be Liverpool’s bogey team on Saturday with a win which will take them above Newcastle, if they fail to gain three points. With Liverpool on a mean streak right now, you can’t bet against them winning comfortably at St Mary’s, but with a leaky defence of late, I can see another high scoring affair on the Horizon. That being said, I’m going for honours even for this one.
My Prediction: Southampton 2-2 Liverpool