Preview: Southampton v Liverpool

Liverpool have shot to the top of the Premier League standings, and will now have to see of the challenge of Southampton at St Mary’s on Saturday.

Premier League
19 November 2016
Kick-off 23:00 HKT
Venue: St Mary’s Stadium

Head-to-head summary:

Southampton 79 21 19 39
Liverpool 79 39 19 21

Previous encounter:

Southampton 3-2 Liverpool 20/03/16 (Premier League)

Southampton goalscorers: S. Mane (64′, 86’), G. Pelle (83′)
Liverpool goalscorers: P. Coutinho (17′), D. Sturridge (22′)

Players to watch:

One day to go until #LFC! ? #saintsfc

A photo posted by Southampton FC (@southamptonfc) on

The match will see Sadio Mane face off against his former employers. The Senegal star has been superb for the Reds, and will offer a familiar but potentially unstoppable threat to his former teammates.

For the Saints, Serbian winger Dusan Tadic offers a regular threat from the wings, and has the ability to potentially turn a tight match on its head. Nathan Redmond has also been showing his quality in recent weeks, and offers a similar threat on the other wing.

Team form and manager quotes:

The Reds have gone eight games undefeated to overtake the the rest of the pack and gain a slender lead in the fledgling title race. That streak has seen Jurgen Klopp’s men pick up seven wins, with the only points dropped in a goalless draw with Manchester United, including wins in their last three matches, the most recent of which was the 6-1 demolition of Watford.

The Saints, on the other hand, have gone their last three matches without a win, losing their last two to Chelsea and Hull City.

Claude Puel’s side have shown that they can fight it out with the league’s finest, but will have to be at their best to stop the high-flying Merseysiders, and Southampton defender Cédric Soares is hoping for home advantage on the south coast.

“It’s a big game, it’s Liverpool,’” The Portugal international said, as he returns from a month out injured. “It’s going to be a very tough game, of course, but we are also a very strong team.

“We didn’t win the last game, so it’s very important we get a win as quickly as possible. One thing is for sure, we are going to fight for our lives and try to get three points.”

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp insisted, perhaps to the opposition’s relief, that his team can’t be expected to pick up exactly where they left off before the international break.

“We can’t be the same team we were before the international break,” the German tactician said. “When we play our best then we are much more difficult to play against than Southampton can imagine. But for this one, I don’t know.”

Team news:

In team news, Liverpool might have to make do without Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho, who is a major doubt with a hamstring problem, while former Southampton star Adam Lallana (groin) will face a late fitness test.

For the Saints, Ryan Bertrand and Dusan Tadic are expected to shake off knock picked up over the international break, while Cedric is back in action. However, striker Shane Long (hamstring) is out injured, along with Matt Targett.