Liverpool will aim to stay top of the Premier League this weekend as they face a trip to St. Mary’s Stadium after the international break. Here’s everything you need to know about Southampton this season.
Premier League form: W-D-W-D-L-L
League position: 10th
Last win: 3-1 at home to Burnley, October 16
At home: Two wins, two draws and one defeat this season.
Under Claude Puel, Southampton have largely played a diamond midfield this season, though the front line can flatten out to make it a 4-3-3 as required.
The attack is fast and technical and, early in the season, Saints didn’t give away much in their own third either—but their form has tailed off in recent weeks.
At its best, the midfield is a combination of aggression and excellent one-touch passing and movement.
The two men at the tip of the diamond have really made Southampton‘s approach click this term: Oriol Romeu in front of the defence, and Dusan Tadic behind the attack.
Romeu has been excellent, shuttling across midfield to break up play and quickly set his team on the offensive, while Tadic has been a scheming maestro between the lines – only Dimitri Payet has created more chances than Tadic in the Premier League this term.
LFC can exploit…
Saints’ midfield can look tremendously effective when they’re all on their game, but the Reds’ movement and speed of playing through the lines can disintegrate that middle third of the park, particularly if targeting the channels.
Force the midfield three to widen across the pitch and isolate Romeu, and the players drifting out of the Liverpool front line can take possession in space, turn and play each other in.
Virgil van Dijk has been a Liverpool target more than once, and despite being a top defender the Reds have found ways past the Dutchman and his team-mates with regularity. If he has another below-par performance, Liverpool could run riot.
For the Reds, whether they start or not, there’s a feeling that one of Divock Origi or Daniel Sturridge will prove key. With the Brazilians travelling a long way on international duty, it’s unlikely they’ll both play the full 90, and a two-man strikeforce has given Liverpool a lot of joy against Southampton previously. Time to start them both?
Like Liverpool, Southampton had a huge contingent of their squad away on international duty over the past couple of weeks, and a few have taken knocks.
Fraser Forster and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg pulled out of the England and Denmark squads respectively with minor knocks, while Dusan Tadic broke his nose playing with Serbia.
Ryan Bertrand missed training with England after a minor strain, while Maya Yoshida is usually left out post-international break due to the length of his travels with Japan.
On the flip side, Florin Gardos, Alex McCarthy and Cedric Soares have been afforded additional time to recover from their injuries.
Possible XI: Forster; Cedric, Fonte, van Dijk, Bertrand; Romeu; Clasie, Davis; Tadic; Redmond, Austin.