Verdict: Away win
Best odds: 4/6
The meeting between Southampton and Liverpool on Monday evening at St Mary’s will conclude the 17th round of the 2020-21 season, the first in the new year.
Both of these teams could be said to have done s-yurprisingly well in different ways, and with different factors taken into considerations.
A regular mid-table team in the Premier League, the Saints finished in 11th place last season and they’re currently in ninth. They share their tally of 26 points with four other teams – Chelsea in sixth, Aston Villa in seventh (a game in hand), Manchester City in eighth (two games in hand), and West Ham in 10th (has played a game more).
The form Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s team are on right now is hard to describe. Their last-six record consists of two wins, three draws and one loss, but a closer look makes things a bit murkier. They beat Brighton and Hove Albion away by 1-2 and thrashed Sheffield United at home by 3-0. Then they lost 1-0 at home against Manchester City and drew 1-1 away to Arsenal, which is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. But that was followed by goalless draws away to Fulham and at home against West Ham.
Hasenhuttl will be without the services of defender Jannik Vestergaard and winger Nathan Redmond, which means Jan Bednarek and Jack Stephens will likely play in the heart of defence once more, with Kyle Walker-Peters and Ryan Bertrand on either side. The attacking flanks will probably be covered by Theo Walcott and Moussa Djenepo, with James Ward-Prowse and Oriol Romeu holding the middle of the park. Former Liverpool man Danny Ings will be leading the line upfront, with Che Adams most likely to be by his side.
If Southampton’s form is hard to fathom, it’s a piece of cake compared to that of Liverpool. The champions were expected to book six points without major difficulties in their last two games – at home against West Bromwich Albion and away to Newcastle, but the Baggies managed to squeeze out a 1-1 draw at Anfield before the Magpies held them to a goalless one at St. James’ Park.
And yet, when many believed they would struggle away to Crystal Palace before that, they hammered the Eagles by 0-7 at Selhurst Park. It seems the Merseysiders seriously lack consistency, and their results mostly depend on which side of their quality turns up for a game.
Nonetheless, Liverpool remain the favourites the win, that much cannot be questioned, but the Reds – mostly their attacking line – will have to find their sharpness and quick. It’s surprising enough, given that it’s actually in defence where they’re missing their best players, but there you have it – those that have come in at the back have done rather well so far, while the stars upfront wasted a lot of chances in the last two games.
Liverpool won just two of their last six matches, drawing the other four now. Still, they top the Premier League table with 33 points to their name, but they now have arch-rivals Manchester United thoroughly breathing down their neck with the same tally from the same number of games.
Jurgen Klopp has only three senior designated centre-backs in his ranks and all three are currently out. Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, of course, aren’t very likely to play again this season, and Joel Matip injured his adductor against West Brom. It means midfielder Fabinho is certain to command the back line again, with either 23-year-old Nathaniel Phillips or 19-year-old Rhys Williams by his side.
Backup left-back Kostas Tsimikas is also injured, which leaves Andy Robertson as the only option for the role. Midfielder Naby Keita and forward Diogo Jota won’t be in the team either due to different injuries.
Georginio Wijnaldum is likely to return to the starting XI having been introduced from the bench last time and play alongside captain Jordan Henderson and either 19-year-old Curtis Jones or newly recovered Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The usual front three of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah will start, unless Klopp chooses to field Xherdan Shaqiri and give one of them a rest.
As has been said above, backing Liverpool to win would still be the most sensible thing to do when predicting the outcome of this match, though it’s by no means certain.
Verdict: Away win
Best odds: 4/6
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!