| Saturday, August 17th |
Premier League | St. Mary’s
3PM BST / 10AM EST
Last season was long ago but if I’m remembering correctly Southampton were in the pickle and so nearly relegated to the Championship. The Saints have struggled in recent seasons, having sold quite a few star players for big money over the years, many to Liverpool. There was a time when Southampton were pushing against the upper echelon’s of English football just as Wolverhampton have been doing but now is not that time.
Ralph Hasenhüttl took over from Mark “Hughsy” Hughes last January and steadied the ship down on the south coast. The Saints obviously stayed up, ending the season in 16th place, but now the Austrian manager will have to do more than just remain in the league come May. With Charlie Adam now resettled over at West Bromwich Albion, Hasenhüttl will be hoping to see more goals from Danny Ings this season along with Michael Obafemi and new-signing Ché Adams.
It wasn’t the positive start to the season that Southampton wanted. The Saints’ first Premier League fixture ended in a 3-0 defeat away to Burnely. That scoreline won’t give them a ton of confidence ahead of welcoming Klopp’s team on Saturday but playing in front of their home supporters for the first time this season could still give the Saints a lift.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Adrián; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Mané, Firmino, Salah
Liverpool have had the winning start that we wanted but the performances haven’t been altogether convincing. We’re still wondering if this team is going to be a solid contender for the league title in 2020.
Another trophy has already been added to the collection but momentum needs to be built to really get the train up to speed for the long and winding track of the campaign. I’m expecting Klopp to choose his strongest available side to face off with Southampton.
In my mind Adrián’s injury is nothing significant and he will play. Joe Gomez played a load of minutes against Chelsea in the Super Cup and may be in line for a spot on the bench, making way for Joël Matip to continue alongside Virgil Van Dijk.
Gini Wijnaldum will probably return to the starting XI with Oxlade-Chamberlain either spending most of the match on the bench or perhaps joining the midfield three in place of Jordan Henderson. Ox in the more advanced, marauding position while Fabinho and Wijnaldum hold down the fort.
Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah are all expected to start the game together. Klopp is still trying to get all of his players settled in—after working with such a piecemeal squad through pre-season—but these are the matches that define seasons. Liverpool are expected to beat Southampton and take home three points. On paper it’s there to win. But the paper doesn’t always show the defensive resilience of a parked bus.
Klopp doesn't have a fantastic record against the Saints but the south coast side are always good to concede a goal or two at home. Liverpool’s defense has looked vulnerable but the attack of the front three should be able to carry the load while Klopp’s defenders work out their through-ball blind spots.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “Saints are strong side and we had enough time to analyse them. We saw two pre-season games and we have all the info we need.”
Ralph HasenHüttl: “Last year Liverpool I think they played 13 times in the week and in the 13 times they played at the weekend, they won 11 and drew two.”
Referee: Andre Marriner
Assistant referees: Scott Ledger, Simon Long
Fourth official: John Brooks
VAR: Craig Pawson
Assistant VAR: Richard West
Kickoff is set for 3PM GMT/10AM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, 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.