Liverpool’s trip to Southampton has been billed as a tough test for the Reds – and it’s not difficult to see why.
The Saint’s have enjoyed a decent start to the season and sit in ninth, though they are only three points off the Champions League places.
No wins in their last four Premier League outings will worry manager Ralph Hasenhüttl, but one positive he can take is that his side has conceded only twice in those matches, once each against Manchester City and Arsenal.
That defensive solidity will rightly worry Liverpool fans, considering the Reds have struggled considerably in attacking areas in their last two outings – disappointing draws against West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United.
These two results did, of course, come in the wake of a record-breaking 7-0 trouncing of Crystal Palace in their own back yard, which is an important reminder of just how good the Reds can be when they are clicking.
And clicking is exactly what they need to start doing, quickly. Patchy away form and an emerging pattern of poor results against bottom-half sides has seen title rivals move a little too close for comfort. Second-placed Manchester United are three points behind, but have a game in hand.
The Reds need a swift return to winning ways, to build confidence ahead of the showdown between Liverpool and United on January 17.
An away trip to St Mary’s doesn’t seem like the ideal place to begin that but, based on history, January 4 is the perfect date for it.
Liverpool haven’t lost a competitive game played on that date in almost three-quarters of a century – a 3-1 away defeat to Chelsea in 1947. The Reds have only shared points twice in that time, courtesy of a 1-1 draw with Southend United in 1958 and a six-goal thriller against United in 1994.Embed from Getty Images
Every other Liverpool match played on January 4 since 1947 has resulted in the Reds winning – and not conceding a single goal in the process.
The defensive output of Jürgen Klopp’s team has been encouraging enough, even despite the poor results of late and injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joël Matip. Two goals conceded in the last four matches Southampton’s record, while the Reds have four clean sheets from their last eight in all competitions.
With both Liverpool and Southampton looking fairly solid at the back but misfiring at the other end of the pitch, it would be reasonable to predict another low-scoring affair when the two sides meet on Monday evening.
Whether or not this proves to be the case, Liverpool will hope they can continue their long run without defeat in a game played on January 4, and start 2021 off in the right way after an anticlimactic end to the last calendar year.
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