Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 4/5
This weekend sees a glut of incredibly important games in the Premier League with every team fighting tooth and nail over the available points. While Manchester City have a commanding lead at the top, the rest of the table is incredibly tight. Just seven points separate 19th-place and ninth, while the top four places are exceptionally close too. With this in mind, Southampton host Liverpool on Sunday.
It is not the season Southampton thought they would be enduring at the start of the campaign. After 26 games they have only won five matches, while they have drawn 11 and lost 10, and their problems clearly start with their attack. The Saints have only been able to net 28 goals this season while they have conceded 38 times. Too often have Southampton been hamstrung by their inability to score goals, while they have found that scoring isn’t always enough, as they have been leaky at the back too. Their form in recent weeks has been very poor too as they have won just once in their last five, drawing three times and losing the other match. Their top scorer is Charlie Austin who has netted six times this season, and after him is Manolo Gabbiadini, James Ward-Prowse, Dusan Tadic and Steven Davis, who have all scored three times. While players have chipped in, there is not one outstanding scorer that is finding the net often enough. The 26 points they have accumulated is enough to keep them out of the relegation zone, but only by two points. Fortunately for Southampton, West Brom, Huddersfield and Stoke are in worse form than they are, but they cannot count on the poor form of others to save them or they may look back at their own profligacy come the end of the season as they plan for a campaign in the Championship. Their next run of games is absolutely vital then, but they begin with an incredibly difficult game against one of the outstanding teams of the season so far.
Top scorer Charlie Austin is out with a torn hamstring but, other than that, Mauricio Pellegrino has a full squad to choose from.
It has been a very good season so far for Liverpool and they look like a good bet to clinch Champions League football for their next campaign. After 26 games they have won 14, drawn nine and lost three which has seen them onto 51 points. However, the Reds continue to be a frustrating prospect as their clinical attack is hindered by their inconsistent defence. Going forward, they have netted 59 goals this season, while they have conceded 31 times. Bar Arsenal, they have conceded the most goals of any top six team, while, except for Manchester City, they have scored the most goals. Mohamed Salah has been their main man so far and when he is on form he is incredibly incisive. The Egyptian has scored 21 goals this season as he has proved the perfect remedy to the fact they still do not have a recognised striker. He has been ably helped by the likes of Roberto Firmino (11 goals) and Sadio Mane (six goals), with the three comprising one of the most fearsome attacks in world football. Jurgen Klopp will be looking to remedy Liverpool’s poor record against the teams that are lower in the league as they have struggled to break sides like Swansea, whom they lost 1-0 to, down. Southampton are 15th in the league and will set up to soak up as much pressure as possible before breaking on Liverpool. This means that the Reds will have to find a way to break the Saints down as their hosts will likely have 11 men behind the ball, which is far easier said than done.
Joe Gomez, Adam Lallana and Ragnar Klavan could yet feature for the side as they returned to training, but Nathaniel Clyne is still out despite closing in on a return from a back injury. Klopp will surely have their last-16 Champions League game against Porto at the back of his mind meaning he may be forced to play some of his more peripheral players in order to keep his stars fresh. Virgil van Dijk is likely to feature against his former club after the defender left Southampton in January.
Southampton ended their 12-game winless run with a victory over West Brom in their last game.
If the Saints can defeat Liverpool, then it would be the first time they have recorded back-to-back wins since April 2017.
The two sides are currently separated by 25 points (Liverpool 51 points, Southampton 26 points).
Sadio Mane has netted six goals in his last five appearances at St. Mary’s Stadium.
Jurgen Klopp actually has quite a poor record against Southampton, (W2, D3, L3).
Most will assume that Liverpool will walk to all three points in this one considering their record, but the Reds are not the finished article yet. Too often have Jurgen Klopp and the fans been left frustrated by their team’s inconsistency and they will be desperate to put this behind them. Southampton have been in awful form this season, but they will take confidence from their previous win over West Brom, and it is vital that they build upon any momentum they currently have, but the Reds are likely to be far too strong for their hosts.
Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 4/5
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