Going into the international break it was Liverpool who were top of the Premier League pile and this afternoon they resume league action with a trip to the South Coast where they will face Southampton. St Mary’s is never an easy place to get three points from and this game will have the interesting sub plot of a whole host of former Saints now turning out for Liverpool.
Anyone would think that Liverpool’s scouting network stops at the English Channel what with the amount of players that have swapped Hampshire for Merseyside over the past couple of seasons. Today could very well see Sadio Mane, Nathanial Clyne and Dejan Lovren go up against their former employers.
One former Saint who looks set to miss out is Adam Lallana who was injured early on during England’s friendly with Spain on Tuesday. He only lasted for 24 minutes before having to be replaced by Theo Walcott, he will be assessed by the Liverpool medical staff but the chances of him squaring off against Southampton look slim.
It also looks a slim possibility that Philippe Coutinho will feature as he was believed to have had a scan after returning from international duty with a tight hamstring. The question now is how will Liverpool with potentially two key players missing.
One is for certain and that is the fact that they will want to pick up from where they left off before the break and that was the 6-1 thrashing of Watford. Liverpool were simply scintillating that Afternoon as they handed out Walter Mazzari’s heaviest defeat since taking charge in the Summer.
And it was that win that made the last remaining doubters sit up and take notice to the fact that Liverpool now must be considered serious contenders for the Premier League title. Of course there is still a lot of football to be played but right now they are rightfully top thanks to a 9 game unbeaten run.
They will look to make that 10 and more importantly stay top when they face a Southampton side who have failed to win their last three league outings. That run of results has seen Claude Puel’s men slip to 10th in the table after previously going five games unbeaten.
If you were to define Claude Puel’s start to life as Southampton manager you would have to call it average. That is in no way a criticism to the fromer Lyon and Monaco manager it’s just the fact that his side sit 10th in the table and have a goal difference of zero, in fairness you cannot really get a much more average start than that.
Before the international break Southampton were somewhat surprisingly beaten by Hull at the KCom Stadium And it was that defeat against Hull that was pretty much symptomatic of their season so far. After going ahead through an early Charlie Austin penalty they then failed to put Mike Phelan’s side to the sword as they missed a hatful of chances.
Missed chances that would be punished later on when Hull performed an unlikely comeback to get their first win in 7 matches and leave Southampton asking themselves how they didn’t manage to win that game. If The Saints are to once again make the Europa League places then they need to be more ruthless in front of goal.
Will they discover that ruthless streak later Today, well they will certainly need to as Liverpool seem to be in all out attack mode and you get the feeling that this isn’t going to be a tight affair especially if Jurgen Klopp’s men continue their aversion to clean sheets.
Even with key men potentially missing for Liverpool you get the feeling that with the form they are currently in they will still have enough to edge past Southampton. I’ll go for both teams to score but I think The Reds will get that all important win to stay top come 5pm.