Premier League Preview: Liverpool vs. Southampton
- Daniel Sturridge became the first Liverpool player in club history to score in the four opening games of the season
- Southampton have allowed just nine shots on goal this season, fewer than any other PL team
- The last five meetings between these two teams have all been won by the home side
On Saturday table toppers Liverpool welcome Southampton to Anfield (10am ET, watch live on NBCSN or online via NBC Sports Live Extra) with the Reds aiming to extend their lead at the top of the standings.
Brendan Rodgers’ side have had a superb start to the Premier League season, winning three of their first four games and still remain unbeaten, and the Reds will see the visit of goal-shy Southampton as the perfect fixture to help keep their momentum going.
However, the Saints were the last team to beat Liverpool back in March last season but since the 3-1 defeat at St. Mary’s the Merseysiders have gone unbeaten in 12 PL games.
Both sides have been extremely solid this season and Pochettino’s Southampton have the second-highest amount of possession per game in the league (59.1%) but have failed to score from open play this season so far.
As for Liverpool, some defensive frailties were exposed against Swansea City on Monday night, as the Reds left the Liberty Stadium with a hard-fought point following the 2-2 draw.
Some negatives came out of that deserved point though, with Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho out for a while as he needs shoulder surgery following a nasty fall in the second half. Huge loss for Liverpool.
Southampton’s England international striker Rickie Lambert will be coming up against the team he supported as a boy... can the Liverpudlian get the Saints going in the hostile atmosphere at Anfield?
On the injury front, Liverpool defender Daniel Agger should return after missing the game against Swansea with a side strain, while we already mentioned Coutinho’s absence. For Southampton there are no fresh injury worries, as Luke Shaw has shaken off the knock he picked up against West Ham.
What they’re saying
Liverpool’s first-team coach Mike Marsh on Southampton: “We’re expecting a tough test - they are a really good side. We went to Southampton just after New Year and were beaten comfortably. We’re expecting a tough game against a good team. It will be important to be patient. We’d like to get off to a good start, to try to settle the nerves. But, like we do in every game, if the goals don’t come early we like to control the game and keep hold of the ball. There’s 90 minutes to score a goal. We understand that teams have traditionally come here, sat in and made it difficult for us. We will have to be patient and we understand that.”
Mauricio Pochettino on Southampton’s goal-shy start: “I’m not worried about it. My main concern is that the team keeps growing and the players keep understanding each other. We have had many good chances, such as in the game against West Ham, so it is not something that worries me. What really worries me is that we keep growing and keep improving and get the three points from every single game we play in. On the defensive side we need to improve also, we need to find the right balance between the two.”
Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin: “Of course it’s an issue because we can’t win games at the moment, but we have very good players and it’s not like we didn’t create anything [on Sunday]. It’s just a matter of time. The only worry is if we didn’t create anything. You can always say ‘I should have done better’, but all credit to their keeper, he made some very good saves. It’s very hard to take, but that’s football and fair play to him, and now it’s just up to us to score goals.”
Given the recent form of both teams, you have to plump for a comfortable home win. Liverpool used last seasons defeat to Southampton as a massive wake up call, and are unbeaten in the league ever since that resounding 3-1 win for the Saints. On Saturday at Anfield they will have to break down a stubborn defense, but with Sturridge red-hot and a chance to extend their lead at the top, expect Liverpool to comfortably beat Southampton.