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Preview: Liverpool vs. Southampton

Sports Mole previews the Premier League match between Liverpool and Southampton at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp will take charge of a home fixture in the Premier League for the first time as Liverpool host Southampton at Anfield on Sunday.

Both sides have been in similar form at the start of the 2015-16 campaign, with 13 points from their opening nine fixtures.


Liverpool

Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp smiles during warm up prior to a UEFA Europa League group B football match between Liverpool FC and FC Rubin Kazan at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England, on October 22, 2015© Getty Images

Having been named as Brendan Rodgers's successor during the international break, Jurgen Klopp comes into this fixture still looking for his first win as Liverpool manager, having shared a goalless draw with Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, before picking up a point in the Europa League on Thursday.

The Reds sit 10th in the Premier League table, and are unbeaten in their last four league fixtures, although they have secured just one win in their last seven outings.

The German manager admitted that his side were short of confidence following their 1-1 draw with Russian side Rubin Kazan in the Europa League, which leaves the club without a win in the group stage of the competition this season.

With the appointment of a new manager, transfer gossip surrounding Liverpool has been increasing in recent weeks, with Nuri Sahin, Andre Ayew and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who played under Klopp at Borussia Dortmund, all being linked with a move to Merseyside.

Despite having just two wins in the league so far, Liverpool have been one of the strongest sides defensively this campaign, conceding just 10 goals while keeping four clean sheets - only four sides have kept their opponents out more often.

The Anfield side's problems have been down the other end of the pitch, with the team finding the back of the net just eight times so far. Last month's 3-2 win over Aston Villa is the only fixture that they scored more than one goal in, although injuries to Christian Benteke, Danny Ings and Daniel Sturridge have limited the team's fire power.

Recent form: LLDWDD
Recent form (all competitions): WWDDDD


Southampton

Virgil van Dijk (C) of Southampton celebrates scoring his team's second goal with his team mates during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Leicester City at St Mary's Stadium on October 17, 2015© Getty Images

Southampton moved up to their highest position in the Premier League table so far this season following a 2-2 draw with Leicester City last weekend. Like Liverpool, the Saints have 13 points, but a better goal difference leaves them eighth heading into this weekend's round of fixtures.

Ronald Koeman's side made a patchy start to the season, with just one win from their first six games, but wins over Swansea City and Chelsea before the international break, as well as last week's draw, have seen the team turn their form around, leaving them unbeaten away from home.

Speculation about the manager's future has continued to make headlines this week. The Dutchman has been tipped to replace Danny Blind as the Netherlands coach after the team failed to qualify for Euro 2016, but he still has 18 months remaining on his deal at St Mary's and has insisted that he has no plans to leave imminently.

One person who looks to be staying at the club for the foreseeable future is captain and defender Jose Fonte. The Portuguese international has agreed a three-year contract extension in the last week, committing him to the team until 2018.

Southampton have been one of the better attacking sides in the Premier League so far, scoring 15 goals, five of which have come from Italian striker Graziano Pelle. The forward also made a bright start to last season before going through a quiet spell midterm, scoring just three goals between October and April.

Southampton's defensive record has not been as impressive this season, with the team keeping just three clean sheets so far, while letting in 12 goals. The team have been boosted by the news that first-choice goalkeeper Fraser Forster, who has been sidelined since March with a torn patellar tendon, has stepped up his work in the gym as he nears a return.

Recent form: WDLWWD
Recent form (all competitions): DLWWWD


Team News

Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool breaks away from Graham Dorrans of Norwich City during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Norwich City at Anfield on September 20, 2015© Getty Images

Sturridge missed the Europa League match against Rubin Kazan on Thursday after picking up a knock in training. Despite insisting that the striker has shown no signs of improvement, Klopp refused to rule the Englishman out of Sunday's fixture.

There are still plenty of absentees for Liverpool though, with Jordan Rossiter struggling with a hamstring injury, while Danny Ings, Joe Gomez, Jordan Henderson and Jon Flanagan are all long-term casualties.

While Forster remains sidelined for the visitors, Koeman is confident that Maarten Stekelenburg will be fit enough to return, but Cedric Soares is expected to miss out after sustaining a cut near his eye last weekend.

Jay Rodriguez is also a doubt as he has been hampered by a foot injury, while Shane Long is continuing to recover from an ankle injury sustained while on international duty with the Republic of Ireland earlier this month.

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Mignolet, Clyne, Skrtel, Sakho, Moreno, Lucas, Can, Milner, Lallana, Ibe, Coutinho

Southampton possible starting lineup:
Davis, Yoshida, Fonte, Van Dijk, Bertrand, Clasie, Davis, Mane, Ward-Prowse, Tadic, Pelle


Head To Head

When the sides met at Anfield last season, it was the home side who secured the victory, with Sturridge scoring the deciding goal late on for a 2-1 win.

In fact, Liverpool have won their last three matches against this weekend's opponents, and four of their six meetings since Southampton were promoted back to the top flight for the 2012-13 campaign.

In 76 previous meetings between the two sides, Liverpool have won half of the fixtures, while Southampton have 20 victories, and 18 games have resulted in draws.


Video Preview

Hit play below to see what the Sports Mole Sofa had to say about this encounter:



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We say: Liverpool 1-1 Southampton

Liverpool will be desperate to get their first win under Klopp in front of their own fans, but with so many players sidelined, it is difficult to see the home side scoring more than the odd goal. By contrast, Southampton are unbeaten away, and have been in strong attacking form recently, so will be expecting to get something from this outing.


ID:253756:

Who will win the Premier League match between Liverpool and Southampton?

Liverpool
Draw
Southampton
Liverpool
61.2%
Draw
17.0%
Southampton
21.8%
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Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp smiles during warm up prior to a UEFA Europa League group B football match between Liverpool FC and FC Rubin Kazan at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England, on October 22, 2015
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