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10 key things to know ahead of Liverpool vs. Southampton

Liverpool and Southampton meet at Anfield on Saturday, in what represents a must-win Premier League game for Jurgen Klopp‘s men.

The Reds have enjoyed a strong return after the international break, thrashing Arsenal last weekend and also seeing off Porto in the Champions League.

Next up is Saturday’s visit of Saints, as Liverpool look to move within one point of leaders Chelsea – who face Man United on Sunday.

Here are 10 things to know ahead of Saturday’s game.

 

1. Unspectacular start from Southampton

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 1, 2020: Southampton's manager Ralph Hasenhüttl wearing gloves during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While the title race, top-four battle and relegation fight all begin to heat up, Southampton are one of the league’s more unnoticed teams.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men are 13th in the table currently, winning three, drawing five and losing four of their 12 matches so far.

Last weekend’s 2-1 defeat away to Norwich was a low point, but Saints have managed to take points off both Man City and Man United.

They may only be five points clear of the relegation zone, but it would be a surprise if they got dragged into the fight.

 

2. How could Saints line-up?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 8, 2021: Liverpool's Diogo Jota (L) and Southampton's Ché Adams during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Hasenhuttl has no new injury problems to contend with, meaning he could field the same starting lineup that lost at Norwich.

That could depend on whether or not the manager believes those 11 players should all respond together or if changes are needed.

Defender Jack Stephens is available again after recovering from injury, so it will be interesting to see if he is drafted back into the team.

Oriol Romeu and James Ward-Prowse are key midfield figures, while Adam Armstrong and Che Adams are a lively strike pairing who could cause Liverpool’s defence problems.

Potential Southampton XI: McCarthy; Livramento, Bednarek, Salisu, Walker-Peters; Diallo, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Elyounoussi; Armstrong, Adams.

 

3. Who’s out for Liverpool?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 30, 2021: Liverpool's Naby Keita goes down injured during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There are no great changes in the injury department for the Reds, with no new issues picked up against Porto on Wednesday.

Midfield remains Klopp’s biggest area of concern, with Naby Keita, Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott all out.

Jordan Henderson and James Milner both made cameo appearances against Porto, though, so they are in contention to feature – and if Henderson comes in, it could mean Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain making way.

Roberto Firmino is the key absentee in attack, as he continues to work his way back from a hamstring problem, and Joe Gomez is also still out.

 

4. Predicting Liverpool’s XI

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 3, 2021: Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara during the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 4 game between Liverpool FC and Club Atlético de Madrid at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp made four changes to the team in midweek, allowing for rotation and keeping legs fresh ahead of Saturday’s game.

It’s likely that a similar number of changes are made for this match, with perhaps one eye on next Wednesday’s Merseyside derby.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Diogo Jota and Virgil van Dijk will come back in, while Andy Roberton and Henderson are the big decisions Klopp has to make.

“For the first time in a while, I have to make some decisions, which is actually cool!” says the boss.

Potential LFC XI: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson, Thiago, Salah, Jota, Mane

 

5. Saints’ woes at Anfield

Jordan Henderson (r) of Liverpool celebrates with Roberto Firmino after scoring the second goal of the game during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. Picture date: 1st February 2020. Picture credit should read: James Wilson/Sportimage via PA Images

Most teams have poor records at Anfield during the Klopp era and Southampton are no different.

The south coast side have lost on their last four trips to Merseyside, with their last positive result a 0-0 draw, back in May 2017, when Milner experienced a rare penalty miss.

Saints did knock Liverpool out of the League Cup semi-finals at Anfield earlier that year, however, and they drew 1-1 in Klopp’s first month in charge in October 2015.

They haven’t tasted victory here since September 2013, when none other than Dejan Lovren scored the only goal of the game.

 

6. Klopp sticks up for Robbo

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 24, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (R) embraces Andy Robertson after the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 5 game between Liverpool FC and FC Porto at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Andy Robertson‘s stock has fallen ever so slightly in recent weeks, with his form dipping and Tsimikas producing strong performances.

Speaking to the press on Friday, however, Klopp made it clear what he thinks of the Scot, claiming he remains first-choice left-back:

“It’s a bit strange that people constantly forget how good Robbo is just because Kostas is good as well. I don’t doubt Robbo at all.

“We share the intensity between the two of them. Really happy with the development of Kostas, really happy but Robbo is Robbo.”

Hats off to Tsimikas for the step-up he has made, but anyone doubting Robertson could be made to look foolish in the coming weeks and months.

 

7. Best-ever Premier League?

Klopp also spoke about the quality that exists in the Premier League currently, hinting that it may never have been better in the competition’s 29-year history:

“The improvement of the league you see and the positions slightly below [the top teams], I especially think the way Brighton is playing is absolutely exceptional.

“I think it is the best Premier League we have had so far, since I have been here, for sure, in the last six years. It’s because of the general strength of the teams in the league.”

With Ralf Rangnick unfortunately likely to strengthen Man United and Antonio Conte taking charge at Tottenham, this is surely the best league in the world at the moment.

Annoyingly, this Liverpool side may have many more titles to their name if they existed in the 1990s instead!

 

8. Did You Know?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 20, 2021: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Virgil van Dijk will come up against his former club on Saturday and an astonishing statistic sums up his influence at Liverpool.

The last time the Dutchman tasted defeat at Anfield in the league was actually as a Saints player, back in November 2017, with Klopp’s men winning 3-0.

Two months later he signed for Liverpool, and since then, he has won 45 and drawn eight out of 53 home league outings, having been injured during the dreadful run last season.

What a footballer.

 

9. Marriner in charge of proceedings

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Monday, January 4, 2021: Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara appels to referee Andre Marriner during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St Mary's Stadium. Southampton won 1-0. (Pic by Propaganda)

Andre Marriner – apparently ‘Dre’ to his friends! – is the referee on Saturday, which is sure to irk some Liverpool fans.

Let’s face it, we all have a most-loathed official, don’t we?

This is the second Reds game Marriner has taken charge of this season, having overseen the 3-0 win away to Norwich back in August.

Liverpool didn’t have much luck with him as the referee in 2020/21, failing to win any of the four games that he officiated.

Home and away draws against Newcastle and Fulham, respectively, were added to by a 1-0 defeat at Southampton and a penalty shootout loss at home to Arsenal in the League Cup.

 

10. Saturday 3pm blackout

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 14, 2019: A silhouette of television cameras during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This is the first of three Saturday 3pm (GMT) kickoffs in a row for Liverpool – something that hasn’t happened since the 2012/13 season.

That means the match is unavailable to watch in the UK, so TIA’s live blog is the best place to follow the action instead.

Joanna Durkan will be keeping you company from 2.15pm, as the Reds look to move within one point of Chelsea before the league leaders’ home clash with United on Sunday.

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