Southampton vs. Liverpool
| Sunday, February 11th |
Premier League | St. Mary’s
4:30PM GMT/11:30AM ET EST
It seems like every season, Liverpool has at least one new player acquired from Southampton who must make their big St. Mary’s return. This season it is Virgil van Dijk who will make his way back to his old stomping grounds less than two months after he left on acrimonious terms to join the Reds on January 1st.
The race for top four remains on a knife’s edge, and with Spurs beating Arsenal on Saturday, this game becomes especially important. A win will keep them in third place, while a loss could see them fall as far as fifth.
It’s safe to say that Liverpool will not be walking into friendly territory when they step onto the pitch, but that’s always how it is when it comes to St. Mary’s. In addition to van Dijk, Sadio Mané will most likely also be starting the match, with Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana possibilities to at least make the bench.
The reverse fixture back in November saw Liverpool put three past Southampton at Anfield, with Mohamed Salah scoring a brace. Salah’s form hasn’t dipped, and in fact the Egyptian superstar has scored 23 goals this season in the Premier League alone, including two last weekend against Spurs.
Despite their most recent victory, Southampton has been a tricky opponent for Liverpool. Last season, both teams played out a stale 0-0 draw when they met each other at St. Mary’s. Both teams have a lot to play for, with Liverpool desperate to stay in the running for top four and Southampton only one point clear of the relegation zone.
After a string of league draws and losses, Southampton will be buoyed by a good victory against West Brom last weekend, and look to keep their momentum going. And we know how generous Liverpool tend to be with the defensive teams at the bottom of the table.
Klopp will have to think about rotation for this match, with one eye on their Valentine’s Day Champions League game against Porto coming up midweek. He’s already said that Jordan Henderson is unlikely to play both matches, so there’s a good chance that the skipper sits out this game to maintain his fitness.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Can, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mané
As mentioned, Henderson is unlikely to play this match, though there is the possibility that it’s the FC Porto match that he misses instead. Klopp could choose to play Milner in midfield as well. Liverpool will need to find a way through Southampton’s defense, and Klopp may value Milner’s passing and leadership over Wijnaldum’s pace. That said, Milner may also need a break after getting some good minutes over the last few weeks.
Adam Lallana and Ragnar Klavan are both available for selection, despite Lallana’s Premier League 2 ban for a straight red card. While both could make the bench, neither will probably start.
Joe Gomez won’t be fit to play, while Nathaniel Clyne inches ever-closer to fitness, with the outlook suggesting he may be ready as early as next month after missing the whole season.
As for Southampton, Charlie Austin is a continued absence up front while Manolo Gabbiadini nurses a lingering thigh problem that kept him from play last weekend.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jurgen Klopp: “It won’t be a friendly game, they fight for everything, we fight for everything. They will want to show their quality but we have our own targets. They are a football playing side.”
Mauricio Pellegrino: “Liverpool is a huge possibility for us but a really tough side. We want to learn and we want to improve from our experience away and we have to improve in different aspects in the way we play. Hopefully we feel at the end of the game that we are growing and we are continuing with this feeling.”
Referee: Martin Atkinson Assistants: Peter Kirkup, Stuart Burt Fourth official: Kevin Friend
Kickoff is set for 4:30PM GMT/11:30AM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.