Southampton host Liverpool on Sunday evening in a match that could have a big influence in the race to secure a top four finish.
The Saints have surprised everyone despite losing five of their best players and manager last summer and are very much in contention for a place in the Champions League after 25 matches. They come into this match in fifth place, four points ahead of seventh placed Liverpool.
Ronald Koeman’s men have suffered a dip in form in recent times, winning just one of their last four matches that has caused them to lose ground with Arsenal, Tottenham Hotpsur and Liverpool closing the gap.
A win for Southampton could see them move into third place after Manchester United lost to Swansea City on Saturday, but a defeat will see them out of the top four after a completed gameweek for the first time since December.
Liverpool suffered a poor start to their campaign as the new players settled in, losing seven times in the first 16 games. They haven’t lost in the league since then however, and have dragged themselves back into reckoning with six wins from the last nine.
Brendan Rodgers always seems to get his side in top form in the second half of the season – his record of just four losses between January and May in over two years at Liverpool will tell you that much – and what better time than now when the clubs above them are very much within reach.
A draining 1-0 win over Besiktas in the Europa League is perhaps not the ideal scenario for the Reds. They face a well rested Southampton side who have had a full 10 days to recover from the exhaustions of their 0-0 draw against West Ham.
Team News and predicted lineups
Southampton have a host of injury worries ahead of this weekend’s clash. Long-term absentee Jay Rodriguez (knee) is back in training but is still some way off first team action while Toby Alderweireld (hamstring), Morgan Schneiderlin (groin) and Sam Gallagher (knee) are all major doubts. Ryan Bertrand also serves the the final game of his suspension.
For Liverpool, Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva are both ruled out with the duo suffering hamstring and groin injuries respectively. Raheem Sterling (foot) is also a doubt which could see Mario Balotelli get the nod after impressing in recent times, despite the controversy surrounding his penalty kick in midweek.
Games played: 99; Southampton wins: 27, Liverpool wins: 49, Draws: 23.
– Southampton have allowed their opponents just 66 shots on target this season, fewer than any other Premier League side.
– The Saints have conceded the least goals (17) in the division.
– Liverpool have lost just once in the last 17 matches in all competitions.
– The Reds have not conceded in their last four away league games.
Tough call, will sit on the fence for this one.
Southampton 1 Liverpool 1
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