It is the season of German managers in the English Premier League. There are a bunch of them this season, and they are going head to head early on in the season. After the Klopp vs Farke matchup last weekend, this matchday we will see Klopp vs Hasenhüttl as Southampton host Liverpool on Saturday afternoon.
Southampton come into this game, fresh from a 3-0 loss against Burnley in their first league game of the season. In that game, they went toe-to-toe with Burnley for slightly more than an hour before some sprightly play from the Clarets saw them concede 3 goals in a matter of a few minutes. Oriol Romeu blamed it on Burnley’s long-ball football afterwards, but the stats indicate that Southampton were equally direct in their gameplay. But the game had several 5+ minute periods when the Saints could not enter Burnley’s box, let alone shoot. Romeu was hoping that Liverpool’s style of play will allow his side to play better as they will not have to worry about a low-block or long balls. Ralph Hasenhüttl will hope that his midfielder’s hope comes true.
Liverpool will come into this game jubilant but tired. The Reds have just won their second piece of silverware under Jurgen Klopp by winning the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday night. But to win the trophy, they needed to persevere for 120 minutes plus penalties, which could mean tired legs on Saturday afternoon. In the midweek game, like in the Community Shield against Manchester City, Liverpool allowed Chelsea to dominate the first half, before storming back into the game in the second half. The backup goalkeeper Adrian, who is deputising for Alisson, had a mixed bag of a game – conceding the penalty that allowed Chelsea to equalize in extra time and then saving the Tammy Abraham penalty in the shootout. Klopp is likely to rotate his playing XI to the extent it is possible and he will then hope that his bench has the strength to overcome one of his bogey sides.
For the Saints, Ralph Hasenhüttl has his entire squad available to choose from but he might ponder changes based on the performances against Burnley. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will hope to start after only managing a place on the bench against Burnley, while deadline day arrival Kevin Danso should also make the squad on Saturday. Danny Ings will hope to face off against former club Liverpool but his starting spot is under threat after a lacklustre 60 odd minutes against Burnley. The likely lineup for the Saints is likely to be Gunn; Bednarek, Danso, Vestergaard; Valery, Ward-Prowse, Hojbjerg, Bertrand, Romeu; Redmond, Adams.
Liverpool played for 120 minutes plus penalties on Wednesday night and now will be called upon on Saturday afternoon. This could lead to rotation from Jurgen Klopp. Some players such as Mohamed Salah, Joe Gomez, or Jordan Henderson who played the entire time on Wednesday might be dropped to the bench to give them adequate rest. This could mean opportunities for the likes of Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Origi to make their mark. Naby Keita will miss this opportunity as he is sidelined by a muscle injury he sustained during a training session in Istanbul. Trent Alexander-Arnold, Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino all dropped to the bench in midweek and will start at St. Mary’s. He likely lineup for Liverpool could be – Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wijnaldum; Origi, Mane, Firmino.
- Liverpool have only lost one of their last 11 Premier League meetings with Southampton (W7 D3), going down 2-3 in March 2016. The Reds had lost five of their previous seven against Saints in the league prior to this run. In fact, Southampton can be considered one of the bogey teams for Jurgen Klopp as he has faced the Saints 11 times as Liverpool manager and the Reds have lost three of those fixtures. He has a similar record against Leicester and Swansea.
- But Southampton cannot afford to be complacent. They have lost their last four Premier League matches against Liverpool, conceding 11 goals and scoring just once in this run. They are also slow starters in the league – Southampton have won their opening home Premier League game of the season only once in 20 prior seasons – against Blackburn Rovers in 2004-05.
- Liverpool could equal their best ever Premier League winning run of 11 consecutive victories if they beat Southampton with their previous run coming between February and April 2014. If they win, it could be their fifth consecutive away win in the league, which they have not accomplished since they won six on the road during that 2014 run.
For quite some time now Nathan Redmond has been the primary attacking outlet for Southampton. This time as well, that does not change. Redmond had a quietish game against Burnley, with just two shots (one on target) and 36 passes (26 accurate), of which the bulk (21) were in the middle third, while 13 were in Burnley’s third. Despite this, if Southampton hope to score against Virgil van Djik and company, Redmond will need to be in top form. It is likely that he will be instrumental in either creating the chance or finishing it.
In contrast to Redmond’s indifferent performance in the last game, Sadio Mane had a great game in his last outing for Liverpool. He scored both the goals for Liverpool during Wednesday’s UEFA Super Cup, which led to the Reds winning their first silverware of the season. Mane’s xG in that game was 1.41, so even within a game he outperformed his xG. If he is suffering from any mental fatigue, like he claimed in an interview before the Wednesday game, he did not show any signs of fatigue in Istanbul, as he put in 24 passes with 88% accuracy, and also provided 3 key passes. As was the case for most of last season, Sadio Mane can be as dangerous for Southampton on Saturday, as his strike partner Salah.
Southampton have both scored and conceded in 13 of their last 14 Premier League home games, reducing the possibility of a Reds clean sheet. However, the nerve Liverpool showed in Istanbul indicates that even if Saints score, the Reds will manage to overcome them, albeit narrowly.
Southampton 1 – 2 Liverpool