After ten months of intense football action of the highest pedigree, we are back to square one when it comes to Premier League. Two teams in Liverpool and Manchester City have been involved in a cat and mouse chase for the title since the beginning of the season, and given how relentless both teams are, it is not particularly a surprise that both sides are still at it even at this stage.
The Reds currently have 86 points as opposed to Manchester City’s 90, but the former has a game in hand. Provided they win this fixture, Jurgen Klopp’s team will be able to take the title race to the last matchday, which will be on 22nd May.
On the other hand, there is nothing much for Southampton to play at this stage of the competition, since they are neither involved in the relegation scrap, nor in the race for finishing in the top half of the points table. With 40 points from 36 fixtures, the Saints are occupying the fifteenth position in the standings.
Let us have a look at the in-depth analysis of what to expect from this fixture.
SOUTHAMPTON IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE SO FAR THIS SEASON
Southampton have had a rather disappointing 2021/22 Premier League season, except that they have done just about enough to never be in danger of getting relegated. After starting their campaign with seven winless matches, the Saints turned their season around October of last year.
Three wins and a draw in four matches helped them climb up the ladder, but instead of continuing with the winning momentum, Raph Hasenhuttl’s team had yet another slump in form as they couldn’t get a win in any of their next six matches.
Interestingly, as their name might suggest, Christmas brought about great joy for the Saints as from the post-Christmas period till the end of February, Southampton lost only a solitary fixture.
That run is perhaps the only reason why Hasenhuttl’s boys are currently out of the grasp of relegation, for they have been nothing short of appalling in their recent run of form. Southampton have won only one of their last ten matches, losing seven and drawing the other two.
PREDICTED LINEUP AND TACTICS AGAINST LIVERPOOL
Ralph Hasenhuttl will miss somewhere between one to three players for this fixture, depending upon the outcome of the late fitness tests. Tino Livramento is the only player who will certainly not be featuring, as he has been ruled out of the season with a knee injury.
Besides that, Stuart Armstrong is also nursing a knee injury while goalkeeper Fraser Forster has a lower back problem. The duo have started training recently but will need to regain match sharpness in order to find a place in the starting XI.
In our team prediction, we have gone with Alex McCarthy in goal, in what is likely to be a 4-5-1 Southampton set-up. Kyle Walker-Peters, Jan Bednarek, Lyanco and Romain Perraud are likely to form the four-man backline.
As for the midfield, James Ward-Prowse, Oriol Romeu and Ibrahima Diallo are likely to form a shield at the centre of the park, with Nathan Tella and Nathan Redmond operating on the flanks. Che Adams is expected to be the lone man upfront for the Saints.
Probable Playing XI (4-5-1): Alex McCarthy; Kyle Walker-Peters, Jan Bednarek, Lyanco, Romain Perraud; Nathan Tella, James Ward-Prowse, Oriol Romeu, Ibrahima Diallo, Nathan Redmond; Che Adams.
LIVERPOOL IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE SO FAR THIS SEASON
Liverpool had an outstanding start to their campaign, as they remained unbeaten in their first ten matches. The Reds won six of those matches and had to settle for stalemates in the other four fixtures.
West Ham United halted their juggernaut in the eleventh fixture, but Jurgen Klopp’s boys made a strong comeback by winning all of their next six matches. However, what went wrong for the Reds were the next three fixtures.
Completely opposite to what happened with the Saints, the Kopites did not have an enjoyable Christmas at all, as during the festive period, they drew against Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, and also lost against Leicester City.
Since then, Klopp’s side has been fairly flawless, but the damage was already done. Liverpool have won 11 of their last 13 matches and have drawn the other two fixtures. Among these, one draw was against fellow title contender Manchester City, while Tottenham Hotspur came back to haunt them once again as, after a 2-2 stalemate in the first meeting, they recently restricted the Reds to a 1-1 draw.
PREDICTED LINEUPS AND TACTICS AGAINST SOUTHAMPTON
While none of Liverpool’s players is absolutely certain to be unavailable, Jurgen Klopp could miss as many as four players if they don’t recover in time for this fixture. Brazilian midfielder Fabinho and Scottish left-back Andrew Robertson are both nursing thigh issues.
Among them, Klopp has mentioned that Robertson has already regained his desired fitness level and will be available for this match, but it is unlikely that Fabinho will even get a place on the bench. Besides that, Mohamed Salah and Virgin van Dijk are also nursing niggles from the FA Cup final triumph against Chelsea and it is highly unlikely that either of the two will be seen in this game.
Hence, for our predicted lineups, we have considered a case where both players are unavailable. Klopp is likely to stick to his 4-3-3 formation, with Alisson Becker guarding the goal behind a backline of Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Ibrahima Konate and Andrew Robertson.
Naby Keita, James Milner and Curtis Jones could man the midfield if the big guns in Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara are rested, while for the front three, Roberto Firmino could form a trio alongside Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane.
Probable Playing XI (4-3-3): Alisson Becker; Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Ibrahima Konate, Andrew Robertson; Naby Keita, James Milner, Curtis Jones; Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane.
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