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Southampton Look to Raise Their Finishing Game Against Liverpool

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Saints’ finishing hasn’t been great. Ryan Bertrand says it will have to be on Friday to have a chance.

Manchester City v Southampton FC - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Liverpool take on Southampton in a rare Friday evening Premier League match up, and on paper at least, there looks to be only one favourite in it. Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand, though, thinks there will be chances for his side.

The question in the end will be whether they can take them—because he’s sure that, with a front line led by Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah, the Reds will take any good ones that come their way on Friday night.

“It will be a big game,” the 29-year-old left back said during a break in Southampton’s preparations. “They are fighting to create history and to win the Premier League and we still need points, so we will also be fighting.

“The better teams are more clinical, more difficult, and more technically gifted, but at the same time, with that comes more opportunity where they might leave more gaps defensively. You have to take your chances.”

Taking chances hasn’t been something Southampton have excelled at this season, and when it comes to the total numbers their 35 goals scored in 31 league games pales in comparison to Liverpool’s 72 in 32.

Of that, 24 have come from open play, four from corners, and three from direct free kicks, adding up to 31 of their goals. The remaining four have come from penalties. However, their non penalty expected goals is 36.5.

Their finishing, then, is more than five goals—or about 13%—worse than one would expect based on the chances they’ve created. Liverpool, by comparison, have 66 non-penalty goals from a non-penalty xG of 66.5.

All told, Liverpool are both more likely to create chances on Friday and more likely to put them away—but then that all seems a little self-evident. There’s a reason, after all, the two sides are where they are in the table.

Still, upsets happen. The sides down the table always have a chance. But Saints will have to play to their maximum while hoping Liverpool’s finishing—and in particular Sadio Mané’s as Bertrand sees it—is a little off.

“I’ve been really impressed with him,” Bertrand noted of Mané, who he sees as the Reds’ top threat. “He has been their main player. The other attackers have still produced, but I think he has been the one that shines.”