Coming off of the back of an impressive 3-2 victory over Tottenham at Anfield last Sunday, Liverpool will look to maintain their momentum in their attempt to secure a spot in European competitions next season when they visit Southampton at St. Mary’s Stadium on Saturday.
"Hopefully it is not too late but we will need to produce the perfect finish to sneak in the back door,” captain Steven Gerrard said, according to The Guardian. “The top five places are the target. Hopefully the teams above us will slip up. All we can control is our performances and our consistency and hopefully we will finish strong.”
Both clubs have a strong interest in securing three points. Liverpool are trying to close the gap with Arsenal and Chelsea while Southampton want to stay afloat as they remain four points above relegation. Ahead of the matchup, Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino mentioned Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho as a player to watch for, as he worked with the Brazilian midfielder while on loan at Espanyol last season.
“What is important about [Coutinho] is he is a good lad, a good kid—a great, humble person. I do think Coutinho has that same quality that Ronaldinho and Messi have, but he has much to prove yet,” Pochettino said, according to the official Liverpool website.
Coutinho has provided that creative spark in midfield that the Reds have often lacked at times this season, with two assists and a goal to his name in just four matches. Another player for Southampton to keep an eye on is Premier League leading scorer Luis Suarez, who has 22 goals this season.
Reds manager Brendan Rodgers will have a last minute decision to make over the fitness of goalkeeper Pepe Reina, who is still struggling with a calf injury, but Brad Jones proved to be a capable deputy in the 3-2 win over Tottenham. Midfielder Joe Allen has been struggling with a shoulder problem that requires surgery, diminishing the likelihood of him featuring. Center back Martin Skrtel will also be challenging for a place against Jamie Carragher.
Pochettino has a full squad to choose from, which includes midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, who leads the Premier League with 3.8 interceptions a game and 4.3 successful tackles per match, and Rickie Lambert, who leads Englishmen in the Premier League with 11 goals this season.
When the two teams last met at Anfield on Dec.1, center back Daniel Agger headed Liverpool to a 1-0 victory. The win marked the first set of back-to-back wins for the Reds at Anfield since Sept. 2011.Liverpool (probable):
D: Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Enrique
M: Lucas, Gerrard
Coutinho, Suarez, Downing
D: Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Shaw
M: Cork, Schneiderlin
Lallana, Ramirez, Rodriguez
Betting Odds: Bet365.com places the odds on a Southampton victory at 3/1, a draw at 14/5, and a Liverpool win at 19/20.
Prediction: With Southampton playing a high defensive line, Suarez, Coutinho, and Daniel Sturridge will have plenty of space to exploit. Despite Southampton’s success against bigger teams, most recently a 3-1 win over Manchester City in February, Liverpool’s recent run of form will probably be too much for the Saints to handle.
Liverpool 3-1 Southampton
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League match kicks off on Saturday, March 16 at 11 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox Soccer Plus, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.