Liverpool welcome an in-form Southampton side to Anfield as they look to continue their winning ways ahead of the mid-season break. The Reds played their game in hand in midweek, a comfortable 2-0 victory over West Ham saw them open a 19-point lead at the top of the table.
A goal in each half ensured that Liverpool extended their winning run to 16 games while keeping a 10th clean sheet in 11 games.
Southampton have turned their season around after a 9-0 hammering by Leicester. Not only have they climbed out of the relegation zone, they are also within reach of qualifying for Europe. Wins over teams close to the top of the table show they are a team that should not be underestimated.
Liverpool picked up another three points on their quest for the Premier League title. They were up against a struggling West Ham side, but the trip to the London Stadium is always a tricky one.
The opening stages of the game were closely contested, Andy Robertson spurned Liverpool’s best chance in the opening 30 minutes. Eventually the Reds got a chance to take the lead, Mo Salah tucked away a penalty after Divock Origi was fouled.
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Liverpool’s next chance came in the second half. Łukasz Fabiański saved a close-range effort from Roberto Firmino to stop the Hammers falling further behind. Minutes later, though, they did as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain finished off a devastating counter-attack from a West Ham corner.
The home side then started to get further up the pitch and started getting shots off on goal, Alisson Becker was equal to each and every one, good saves saw Declan Rice and Robert Snodgrass denied as the Brazilian kept his eighth clean sheet in 16 games.
Over the last couple of weeks, Southampton have won against Chelsea, Tottenham and Leicester. These victories were not down to luck, Southampton deserved to get nine points from these three games. Yes, Liverpool are on a different level to these three sides, but it shows that Southampton will be up for the game and won’t make it easy for Liverpool.
They are the third most in-form side over the past five games amassing a total of 10 points, this should have been 13 if they did not throw away a two-goal lead against Wolves, a match in which they were comfortable in large periods.
David Moyes suggested in his post-match interview that every team will be for a match against Liverpool, being the first side to beat the eventual champions will certainly give them boasting rights. One player who will most defiantly be up for the game is Danny Ings. He will want to prove a point to the Anfield crowd and will try and get something for his team against his former side.
Jürgen Klopp and his side have a two-week break after the game, so he shouldn’t have to make too many changes to his starting XI. Fabinho and Takumi Minamino both need game time, but with a sizable gap until the next game, it wouldn’t make much sense.
Divock Origi is an injury doubt after being substituted last time out, but it isn’t expected to be serious so he will probably start on the bench.
Naby Keïta impressed in his cameo at West Ham United so will likely replace the Belgian with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain moving further up the pitch.
The rest of the side should remain the same due to them being in excellent form over the last couple of weeks.
Ralph Hasenhüttl is without Stuart Armstrong due to injury, the midfield has chipped in with important goals over the past couple of weeks and will be a big miss for the Saints.
Ex-Red Danny Ings is Southampton’s biggest threat. The English striker has 14 league goals this season, more than Sadio Mané (11) and Mohamed Salah (12). His teammates Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Nathan Redmond have also proved to be vital in Southampton recent resurgent and will prove to be a risk at Anfield.
Their defence is quite vulnerable, they have the worst defensive record in the top half of the table with 42 goals conceded. The 9-0 loss amplifies that number, but the second most is Arsenal with 34.
January and February were the months where, historically, Liverpool have performed the worst under Jürgen Klopp. This January, the Reds picked up maximum points, winning five games and just conceding once.
Continuing this form into February will be difficult — three league games are to be played but there is a two-week break in the middle were momentum will be lost.
A positive about the winter break is that energy levels will be replenished as Jurgen Klopp goes on his final assault for the Premier League and Champions League trophies.
Southampton will be no pushovers and will want to continue their excellent recent form. Liverpool may well drop points between now and the end of the season, but the Saints are unlikely to be one of the sides who do take points off the Reds.
Predicted final score: Liverpool 2-0 Southampton