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    Southampton vs Liverpool Match Preview


    Liverpool have the chance to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League table on Saturday afternoon when they travel to St. Mary's to face mid-table Southampton.

    Jurgen Klopp's side capitalised on previous leaders Manchester City's late slip-up at home to Middlesbrough before the international break by putting six goals past Watford at Anfield to return to the summit for the first time since May 2014.

    Southampton have proved tough opponents for the red half of Merseyside since returning to the Premier League in 2012, while their performances against Manchester City and Inter Milan in recent weeks have demonstrated they can be a match for anybody on their day.

    Southampton

    Claude Puel's Southampton side have coped well with the rigours of European football this season and currently sit in a comfortable position of 10th in the Premier League as well as second in their Europa League group.

    It was an inauspicious start for the Frenchman in his opening four matches in English football with many fearing that the summer exodus of three key players would have a detrimental affect on the team.

    Sadio Mane, Victor Wanyama and Graziano Pelle all left the South Coast in the pre-season before The Saints began the campaign with four winless matches including disappointing home draws against Watford and Sunderland.

    The club's turnaround in form coincided with the start of the Europa League campaign and saw them record wins over Swansea, West Ham and Burnley, while collecting creditable away draws against champions Leicester and early pace-setters Manchester City.

    Nathan Redmond has been in sparkling form this season following his summer move from relegated Norwich, while midfielders Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Sofiane Boufal have impressed since joining the club from Bayern Munich and Lille respectively.

    The highlight of the club's campaign so far came a little over two weeks ago when a Virgil van Dijk equalizer and a Yuto Nagatomo own goal saw Puel's team beat Inter Milan to record one of their most famous ever European victories.

    The Saints have also made it through to the EFL Cup quarter-finals but two successive defeats in the Premier League to Chelsea and Hull City have cranked up the pressure once again as the club prepare for the visit of Liverpool.

    Liverpool

    Liverpool have been in scintillating form this season having scored 40 goals in all competitions as well as recording wins over Arsenal, Chelsea and Leicester and draws against Tottenham and Manchester United.

    The Reds signed off for the international break by putting six goals past an in-form Watford side with a devastating display of high-pressing, slick movement, pace and clinical finishing.

    The Liverpool front-four of Adam Lallana, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho were mesmerising to watch at times, with their link-up in the final third of the pitch bamboozling a Watford team that had kept three successive clean sheets.

    Lallana and Mane, along with Dejan Lovren and Nathaniel Clyne, form a quartet of players who have made the move from Southampton to Liverpool over the past two-and-a-half years and will be eager to impress against their former side.

    It remains to be seen whether the international break will quell some of the momentum that the club have built up in recent weeks as they attempt to extend their 12-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

    Adam Lallana, who has become such an integral part of the set-up for both club and country, is an injury concern for Saturday's encounter after he hobbled off with a knock in England's 2-2 draw against Spain.

    Philippe Coutinho is also a doubt with a hamstring problem, while both he and Roberto Firmino only returned from representing Brazil on international duty on Wednesday night before resuming club training on Thursday.

    Southampton Team News

    The Saints have a number of players doubtful ahead of Saturday's visit of Liverpool including Shane Long (hamstring), Cedric Soares (foot), Alex McCarthy (hamstring) and Ryan Bertrand (knock).

    Fraser Forster, who was forced to pull out of the England squad with an abdominal injury, has recovered in time to play, while Dusan Tadic has also been ruled fit despite breaking his nose while on international duty for Serbia.

    Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is also set to to play after sustaining a knock but Saturday's game has come too soon for Matt Targett, who is still a couple of weeks away from returning from a hamstring injury.

    Southampton's only player on the sidelines with a long-term problem is defender Jeremy Pied, who sustained a knee injury that required surgery in August and is likely to miss the rest of the campaign.

    Liverpool Team News

    Adam Lallana will have his fitness monitored prior to the match after he sustained a knock in the opening 30 minutes of England's international friendly against Spain.

    Philippe Coutinho is also a doubt with a tight hamstring, while the absence of either the Brazilian international or Lallana would almost certainly result in the recall to the starting line-up of Daniel Sturridge.

    Dejan Lovren should replace Lucas Leiva in the centre of defence after recovering from the virus that ruled him out of the win over Watford but there is still no place in the matchday squad for the out-of-favour Mamadou Sakho.

    One player who is edging closer to a return to the fold is Joe Gomez, who has missed over a year's football with respective knee and achilles injuries but played 45 minutes in a friendly against Accrington Stanley last weekend.

    Head-to-head

    Liverpool have slighted shaded the head-to-head record against Saturday's opponents since The Saints returned to the Premier League in 2012, winning five times to Southampton's three in all competitions, while one game ended as a draw.

    One of those Liverpool victories came in the quarter-finals of last season's League Cup, when Sadio Mane began the scoring in the first minute for Southampton but The Reds responded in spectacular style to win 6-1.

    Southampton have won 11 games to Liverpool's 18 in all competitions since the start of the Premier League era, which was interrupted for seven season's following The Saints' relegation in 2005, while eight encounters have ended in draws.

    In a fixture first played in 1902, the two sides have previously met on 102 occasions with The Reds also having the edge in the overall victory count with 51 wins to Southampton's 28.

    Score Prediction

    Southampton 1-1 Liverpool
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    Item Reviewed: Southampton vs Liverpool Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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