Liverpool host Southampton on Sunday in what will be Jurgen Klopp’s first Premier League game in charge of the Merseyside club with both teams level on points and Everton the team sandwiched in between them on goal difference.
Kloppomania will be in full swing following last week’s performance at White Hart Lane showed the signs of things to come even though the match fizzled out in a goalless draw. And even though the new manager got a warm reception on his first home game on Thursday, the voice of the Kop will be a few decibel higher when the Saints come to town.
Southampton meanwhile lost a 2 goal lead against a Jamie Vardy inspired Leicester comeback. Having led through Defenders José Fonte and Virgil van Dijk, Vardy’s brace pegged them back.
Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Rubin Kazan was their four consecutive draws but the Reds have a decent record against the Saints, winning four of their last five home league meetings with Southampton.
Ronald Koeman’s men have an advantage of having the midweek off and most of Liverpool’s starting line-up is expected to start again. Southampton also remain one of the four teams yet to lose away from home in the Premier League this season, and their last away game was a stunning 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge.
Jon Flanagan, Joe Gomez and Danny Ings are out with long term injuries while Jordan Henderson and Jordan Rossiter are also injured.
Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino returned from respective injuries on Thursday against Rubin Kazan and could start on Sunday though Daniel Sturridge is a doubt and will face a late fitness test.
Maarten Stekelenburg should recover in time from a back problem he suffered against Leicester last week though Fraser Forster, Florin Gardos and Shane Long will all miss out through injury. Ronald Koeman could name an unchanged side from last week.
Liverpool starting lineup (4-2-3-1 formation): Mignolet; Clyne, Skrtel, Sakho, Moreno; Can, Lucas; Coutinho, Lallana, Milner; Benteke
Southampton starting lineup (4-2-3-1 formation): K. Davis; Soares, Fonte, van Dijk, Bertrand; S. Davis, Wanyama; Mané, Ward-Prowse, Tadic; Pellè
Blast From The Past
Philippe Coutinho scored from a stunning long range strike in February this year as Liverpool put in a gritty display to win 2-0 at St. Mary’s.
Head to Head
22.02.2015 Southampton 0-2 Liverpool
17.08.2014 Liverpool 2-1 Southampton
01.03.2014 Southampton 0-3 Liverpool
21.09.2013 Liverpool 0-1 Southampton
16.03.2013 Southampton 3-1 Liverpool
Liverpool have received the 5th highest yellow cards in the league so far (20) while Southampton have received the 3rd most (22).
Southampton have won the 2nd highest aerial duels per average (21.2) while Liverpool are 5th in that list (19.1).
Liverpool and Southampton concede the joint 5th fewest shots per game (11.6).
Southampton have attempted more open play crosses than any other side in the first 9 matchdays of the 2015/16 season (171)
Southampton have 33% of their attacks from the middle and 66% of shots from inside the 18 yard box, the highest percentages in the division.
Southampton’s 3-1 win at Chelsea was their first PL away win since February 7th, ending a 10-game away winless streak (L6 D4).
Just three of Graziano Pelle’s 17 Premier League goals have come away from home (18%) though he has scored or assisted as many goals in his last four Premier League appearances (5) as he did in his previous 11 in the league.
Lucas Leiva has made more tackles than any other player in the 2015-16 seasons (40).
Liverpool: Philippe Coutinho
Having started off the season with a stunning winner at the Britannia Stadium, the 23-year-old hasn’t had the best of starts to the new season though the same can be said for most of the team. Under Jurgen Klopp, the Brazilian finds himself in a slightly deeper role with more impetus on hard work and pressing down opponents as soon as his team loses the ball. He got hauled off just after the hour mark in the Europa League with an eye on Sunday’s game as the manager recognises that Coutinho will need to be managed carefully in the new system.
With Christian Benteke expected to return to the starting line-up and possible Roberto Firmino too, the onus to take shoot at every given opportunity will be less as he has averaged 4.9 shots on goal so far. Only Alexis Sanchez (45) has attempted more shots than Coutinho (39) and Milner being the next highest Liverpool player (14) speaks volumes about the responsibility Coutinho has taken on his shoulders. Under Klopp though, that should change and it was evident against Spurs where he only had a solitary shot to his name.
A poor display against Rubin followed in midweek but a certain German manager has been put in charge to turn around Coutinho’s as well as Liverpool’s season and Klopp’s first home game in the Premier League is the perfect stage for the creative forward to shine.
Southampton: Sadio Mane
One of the best Southampton players this season was heavily linked with a move to Liverpool’s arch rivals Manchester United towards the end of the transfer window but he stayed at the South Coast and has continued from where he left of last season. He has registered two goals and four assists so far having played 1.6 key passes per game and the last month or so has been a purple patch for him.
In total he has average 2.9 shots per game as well as 2.9 dribbles while incidentally being fouled 2.9 times. He faces a familiar foe in Nathaniel Clyne with the right back emerging as one of the most solid additions to Liverpool in the recent past. The battle between the two will be an interesting one as Mane has the pace and skill to hurt the home side on the break if Southampton are able to effectively bypass their pressing game.