MX23RW : Friday, March 22 13:03:34
Sep 22, 2018 at 3pm UK at ​Anfield
Attendance: 50,965
Hoedt (10' og.), Matip (21'), Salah (45')
FT(HT: 3-0)

Preview: Liverpool vs. Southampton - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole looks ahead to Saturday's Premier League clash between unbeaten Liverpool and Southampton at Anfield, including team news, predicted XIs and a full preview.

Liverpool will be looking to maintain their perfect start to the season and regain their place at the top of the Premier League table when they host Southampton at Anfield on Saturday afternoon.

The Reds have won all six of their outings across all competitions so far this term, but they come up against a Southampton team unbeaten in three after overcoming a poor start to the campaign.


An understated Jurgen Klopp during the Premier League game between Liverpool and West Ham United on August 12, 2018© Reuters

Saturday could prove to be a historic day in the illustrious 126-year history of Liverpool as the class of 2018-19 bid to achieve something no other Reds team has managed.

None of the previous 18 title-winning teams, five Champions League-winning teams or any other incarnation of Liverpool down the years has ever won their opening seven competitive matches of the season - a feat Jurgen Klopp's side find themselves on the brink of this weekend.

Tuesday night's dramatic late win over Paris Saint-Germain in their opening Champions League match saw them equal the previous club record of six for the first time since Bill Shankly's 1961-62 team in the old Second Division, and they will be heavy favourites to extend their winning run at home to the Saints.

The Reds have so far lived up to their pre-season billing of genuine title contenders, although despite a perfect start in terms of results, Klopp will feel that there is still plenty more to come from his side.

The opening-day rout of West Ham United was arguably Liverpool's most complete performance of the campaign so far; against Crystal Palace, Brighton & Hove Albion and Leicester City they were forced to hang on, while against Tottenham Hotspur and PSG they dominated but failed to turn that into goals and were almost punished on both occasions.

To be in such a strong position and not yet be at 100% can only be a positive, but Liverpool may need to step it up another level again after this weekend considering their next four matches come against Chelsea in the EFL Cup and then the Premier League, Napoli and English champions Manchester City.

Chelsea are the only team able to match Liverpool's record so far this season and currently lead the way on goal difference, but with Maurizio Sarri's side not in action until Sunday, Liverpool have the chance to leapfrog them in the table again with a win - or even a draw - in this match.

Any dropped points would represent a first slip-up for a team with just one defeat in their last 33 home matches across all competitions, while it is 23 games since Liverpool last lost a Premier League game at Anfield - a run which stretches back to April 2017.

Klopp's side have kept clean sheets in their last seven of those - their best run since February 2007 - and it is that increased defensive solidity which has transformed Liverpool into serious contenders this season.

However, it is still very early in the campaign and the Reds will note that their best-ever league start came in 1990-91, when they won their opening eight top-flight outings but still only finished second in the table - the first season of what is now a 28-year wait for the title.

Recent form: WWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWWW


Mark Hughes in charge of Stoke City on May 13, 2018© Reuters

Southampton fans may have been fearing a repeat of last season's struggle against the drop when they began the new campaign with only one point from their opening three games, but they have since begun to show signs of improvement.

Back-to-back defeats against Everton and Leicester City have been followed by victories over Brighton & Hove Albion in the EFL Cup and Crystal Palace in the Premier League - both of which came away from home.

There will be an element of frustration that they are not sitting more comfortably than their current position of 13th, though, having let a two-goal lead slip in the final 25 minutes of Monday's match against Brighton.

The Saints would be sitting in the top half of the table had they held on to that, but for many fans the collapse would not have come as a major surprise, it being the latest example of a worrying trend.

Southampton have dropped a league-high 26 points from winning positions since the start of last season, and half of those have come in only 14 games under Mark Hughes - including five already this season, which would have doubled their points tally for the campaign so far.

It is three games unbeaten for Southampton, though, and should they end Liverpool's perfect start then it would be their longest run without defeat since February - although they will be acutely aware that there are few tougher tasks in English football right now than a trip to Anfield.

The Saints have already been beaten on Merseyside once this season, but they have bounced back with successive wins on the road in the EFL Cup and league, and another victory on Saturday - as unlikely as it may seem - would make it three in a row for the first time since February 2015.

Southampton have not won back-to-back Premier League away games since March 2017, and you have to go back even further - to May 2016 - for their last win at one of the 'big six' clubs.

Seven of their next eight games come against teams currently in the top half of the table too, and that is before you even get to November, when they take on Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal in the space of four matches.

Hughes will be firmly focused on the here and now, though, and his side will need to be at their very best if they are to get anything from Anfield this weekend.

Recent form: DLLWD
Recent form (all competitions): DLLWWD

Team News

Roberto Firmino salvages three points late on during the Champions League group game between Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain on September 18, 2018© Reuters

Roberto Firmino was left out of the starting lineup against PSG after suffering an eye injury last weekend, but he came off the bench to score the winner and is expected to return from the start for this one.

Firmino's inclusion will see Daniel Sturridge drop out despite also scoring in the Champions League opener, but Klopp is otherwise likely to continue with his policy of limiting changes.

Naby Keita and Jordan Henderson have switched in and out of the team in recent weeks, and the latter could miss out again here having started in midweek.

Former Southampton trio Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are again expected to miss out through injury, but fellow Saints alumnus Sadio Mane will start and is only two goals away from reaching 50 in the Premier League.

The visitors will be without their own top scorer in Danny Ings, who has found the back of the net in three of his last four games but is ineligible to face his parent club.

The absence of Ings could force Hughes into a reshuffle, and with Manolo Gabbiadini a doubt due to a hamstring injury, Shane Long is the most likely to lead the line alone should Hughes switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Southampton are likely to opt for a more defensive approach in that case, which could see Oriol Romeu come into the side with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg - scorer of two goals already this season - moving into a slightly more advanced position.

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Wijnaldum, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Southampton possible starting lineup:
McCarthy; Cedric, Vestergaard, Hoedt, Bertrand; Lemina, Romeu; Elyounoussi, Hojbjerg, Redmond; Long

Head To Head

Liverpool won both meetings between these two sides last season, including a 3-0 victory at Anfield which ended a five-game winless run against the Saints.

The Reds have now kept clean sheets in their last four Premier League games against Southampton, which is their longest current run against any team in the competition.

Southampton have only lost one of their last four visits to Anfield across all competitions, but they have also only won three of their previous 19 Premier League matches at the stadium, losing 10.

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We say: Liverpool 3-0 Southampton

The pace in Liverpool's attack is likely to cause plenty of problems for Southampton's defence and, while the Reds have not been as clinical as last season yet, they should still create enough chances to win this match quite comfortably.

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Who will win Saturday's Premier League clash between Liverpool and Southampton?

Roberto Firmino salvages three points late on during the Champions League group game between Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain on September 18, 2018
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