Get game ready for Sunday's visit of Liverpool to St Mary's with our in-depth match preview...
Southampton vs Liverpool
Sunday 11th February, 4.30pm GMT
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Southampton return to St Mary’s on a high after defeating close rivals West Brom by three goals to two last weekend but it was the nature of the performance that will have pleased supporters the most.
Behind early on to Ahmed Hegazi’s header, Saints rallied in style through Mario Lemina, Jack Stephens and James Ward-Prowse to power to victory at The Hawthorn’s in one of the most important fixtures of the season so far.
Concentration, determination and control throughout key periods of the game were key to beating the Baggies and the same will be true of Jürgen Klopp’s team who have struggled for consistency.
A 4-3 win over Manchester City seemed significant in the middle of January but the Reds followed it up with consecutive defeats to Swansea and West Brom.
The third-placed visitors were comfortable winners in the reverse fixture in November but failed to net against Saints in both of their previous trips to St Mary’s last season.
Southampton: There were no new injury concerns to report in Mauricio Pellegrino’s press briefing on Thursday afternoon, with Charlie Austin the only outstanding absentee.
Liverpool: Adam Lallana, Ragnar Klavan and Alberto Moreno are in contention to return to the Reds squad, but Sunday’s game may come too soon for defender Joe Gomez.
The Champions League meeting with Porto the following week is a more realistic target for the Englishman.
Southampton’s previous five:
West Brom (a) W 3-2
Brighton (h) D 1-1
Watford (h) W 1-0 (FA Cup)
Tottenham (h) D 1-1
Watford (a) D 2-2
Liverpool’s previous five:
Tottenham (h) D 2-2
Huddersfield (a) W 3-0
West Brom (h) L 3-2 (FA Cup)
Swansea (a) L 1-0
Man City (h) W 4-3
Jack Stephens had never scored a senior goal for Saints before 2018, but the defender now remarkably has three to his name, scoring in consecutive games against Watford, Brighton and West Brom.
Fellow Academy graduate James Ward-Prowse has scored or assisted five times in his previous five matches, supplying two of his team’s goals at The Hawthorns from set-pieces.
New Saint Guido Carrillo was quietly effective in the west Midlands and will have his eyes firmly set on a second start for the club against Liverpool.
Top scorers: Charlie Austin (6), James Ward-Prowse (4) Steven Davis, Jack Stephens, Manolo Gabbiadini, Dušan Tadić (all 3)
Most assists: Ryan Bertrand (3), Nathan Redmond (3), Dušan Tadić (3)
Mohamed Salah took his personal tally to 28 with a superb individual goal in last Sunday’s dramatic 2-2 draw with Spurs at Anfield.
Joined by Roberto Firmino, Liverpool’s frontline has been unstoppable at times this term; both scored in the 3-0 win over Saints in November. Preventing the supply lines to both will be critical if the hosts are to get something from the game.
Top scorers: Mohamed Salah (28), Roberto Firmino (19)
Most assists: Roberto Firmino (10), Mohamed Salah (8)
Previous four meetings:
November 2017: Liverpool 3-0 Southampton
May 2017: Liverpool 0-0 Southampton
Jan 2017: Liverpool 0-1 Southampton (EFL Cup second-leg) (Long)
Jan 2017: Southampton 1-0 Liverpool (EFL Cup first-leg) (Redmond)
DID YOU KNOW?
There has been just one goal scored in the last two meetings between these sides in all competitions at St. Mary’s – in the two before that, there were 12 goals scored.
CHINESE NEW YEAR
As the final fixture before Chinese New Year on Friday 16th February, there will be celebrations ahead of kick-off at St Mary’s.
A Chinese dragon will light up the pre-match build-up pitch-side before two LED messages in Chinese – “We March On” and “Saints wish you a Happy Chinese New Year” – welcome the players out from the tunnel.
Fittingly, ahead of what will be the year of the dog, Sammy Saint is set to accompany the dragon, handing out traditional red envelopes, which will wish fans a happy new year and contain a range of prizes.
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