On Monday night, Southampton will host champions Liverpool in their first game of the year as both sides look to regain their early season form.
The holiday season brought very few gifts for Monday’s hosts, as they find themselves 9th at the start of the New Year after a good start to the proceedings. The Saints have failed to win in their last four games, scoring just once in the process.
It was a Christmas-like performance for the red half of Merseyside (by their high standards), as the recent drop in points brought pressure from fierce rivals Manchester United at the top. Liverpool will be hoping to take all three points as Jurgen Klopp’s men look to maintain a cushion in first place.
When does the kick-off take place? Monday January 4
What time is the kick-off? 8:00 p.m. (GMT)
Where is it played? St Mary’s Stadium
TV channel? Sky Sports
Both sides will miss their usual strong presence at the back as Jannik Vestergaard will miss Liverpool’s visit due to a knee injury which has sidelined the center-back for the last two matches. Nathan Redmond is also unlikely to be present.
In keeping with the unprecedented nature of this season, Ralph Hassenhuttl was allowed to return to the sideline after being forced to miss the West Ham draw with a positive COVID test.
Liverpool’s injury crisis means the champions will be without a few key men, with Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Virgil van Djik all sidelined. In their absence, Klopp will likely enlist the services of Nathaniel Phillips. It is doubtful that Diogo Jota and Naby Keita are involved, however, Thiago’s return to the squad to face Newcastle provided a much needed boost to the Reds.
Southampton: McCarthy; Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Stephens, Bertrand; Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Romeo, Walcott; Ings, Adams
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Fabinho, Robertson; Jones, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Southampton’s form has waned since losing to Manchester City in early December. The Saints have struggled to come back to victory since, with two games on the rebound. The absence of Vestergaard at the back was a huge loss for Hassenhuttl. The Austrian manager lost a huge defensive presence which proved to be a threat in both boxes.
Liverpool have also lost four points in their last two, failing to find a lead against West Brom and Newcastle respectively. The champions’ recent performances have further heightened the hopes of other clubs hoping to embark on the pursuit of the Premier League title this season, with Manchester United increasingly looking like viable challengers for their crown.
Southampton 0-0 West Ham (12/26)
Fulham 0-0 Southampton (12/26)
Southampton 0-1 Manchester City (19/12)
Arsenal 1-1 Southampton (16/12)
Southampton 3-0 Sheffield United (13/12)
Newcastle 0-0 Liverpool (12/30)
Liverpool 1-1 West Brom (27/12)
Crystal Palace 0-7 Liverpool (19/12)
Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham (16/12)
Fulham 1-1 Liverpool (13/12)
The talent of the Southampton squad has proven that they are more than capable of pulling a few feathers in terms of Premier League top positions.
Liverpool are top of the league, but their recent performances prove they are not untouchable. However, with the teams behind them finding their form, their trip to the South Coast is a must-see match.
Both teams like to play football at a fast pace, with high press and created chances, and you would prefer Liverpool with their attacking quality if it turned into a shootout. However, recent games for both sides show they lack a clinical advantage… and Liverpool could suffer again.
Prediction: Southampton 1-1 Liverpool