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    Liverpool vs Southampton Match Preview


    Liverpool will be hoping to record a third successive victory in the Premier League for the first time this season when they entertain Southampton on Saturday afternoon.

    Jurgen Klopp's side had experienced a mixed opening to the campaign before hitting form in the lead-up to the international break, while their 13th-place opponents have endured an underwhelming start to the season themselves.

    There will be plenty of reunions this weekend, with Adam Lallana possibly featuring for The Reds for the first time since May and Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino returning to the club where he enjoyed spells as a player and a coach.

    Liverpool

    Liverpool moved up to fifth-place in the table a fortnight ago with a 4-1 demolition of West Ham United, which was the club's third win in the space of a week following equally commanding performances against Huddersfield Town and Maribor.

    Despite the emphatic victory, The Reds were without the services of Phillipe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and captain Jordan Henderson but the trio will return to first-team action on Saturday afternoon for the visit of Southampton.

    Jurgen Klopp will have plenty of selection dilemmas this weekend, with a full-compliment of midfield and attacking options at the German's disposal for the first time this season all eager to stake a claim for a regular place in the side.

    The competition for places has intensified in recent weeks, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum all hoping to retain their places in the starting XI and James Milner and Daniel Sturridge also eager to earn a recall.

    Dominic Solanke (England) Ben Woodburn (Wales) and Marko Grujic (Serbia) all represented their countries during the international break but will be fortunate to make the bench for their club side such is the stiff competition for places.

    One certain starter will be defender Joe Gomez, who was part of an England back-four which kept successive clean sheets against international heavyweights Germany and Brazil and received plaudits for his performances in both games.

    The defender may even be the answer to Liverpool's problems at centre-back, with Dejan Lovren being heavily criticized for his recent performance against Tottenham and Joel Matip likely to miss out this weekend due to a thigh problem.

    Southampton

    Southampton have had a solid rather than spectacular start to the season, with the club sitting only two points adrift of eighth-place Brighton following three wins, four draws and four defeats from their opening 11 matches.

    Unlike in previous years, The Saints managed to keep hold of all their star-studded players in the summer including Dutch international defender Virgil van Dijk who continues to be linked with a move to Liverpool for around £70 million.

    Central defender Wesley Hoedt, a Dutch international team-mate of van Dijk, and Gabonese midfielder Mario Lemina were the only high-profile arrivals at the club in pre-season for a combined £30 million, with Jay Rodriquez leaving for West Brom in a £12 million deal.

    The most significant change at the club was the arrival of Mauricio Pellegrino, who has spent the last five seasons managing teams in Spain and his native Argentina and returned to England following spells at Liverpool as a player in 2005 and a coach from 2008 to 2010.

    One of the key factors that led to the dismissal of former boss Claude Puel, who guided the club to eighth in the Premier League and an EFL Cup final, was a lack of goals but this particular problem has not been subsequently rectified during the current campaign.

    Only Huddersfield (8), Bournemouth (7), Swansea (7) and Palace (4) have scored fewer times than The Saints this season, although the club remain strong defensively having conceded only 11 goals, six less than Saturday's opponents.

    Manolo Gabbiadini is Southampton's top scorer with three goals, although the former Napoli striker has only found the net four times in his last 24 appearances for club and country and was part of the Italian team which failed to qualify for next year's World Cup.

    Liverpool Team News

    Former Southampton defender Dejan Lovren is likely to earn a recall to the Liverpool starting XI in place of Joel Matip, who is suffering from a thigh problem and is not expected to be risked this weekend.

    Adam Lallana and captain Jordan Henderson have also been on the sidelines due to thigh injuries, with Lallana expected to feature for the first time this season against his former club and Henderson also set to return.

    Sadio Mane will face a late fitness test after he sustained a slight hamstring problem on international duty playing for Senegal, although Phillippe Coutinho is fit again after missing his team's last three games with a groin injury.

    Goalkeepers Adam Bogdan (knee) and Danny Ward (back) remain unavailable for the club due to injury, while Nathaniel Clyne has been ruled out until February with a long-term back injury.

    Southampton Team News

    Only local rivals Brighton have fewer players currently unavailable due to injury than Southampton, with summer signing Mario Lemina and right-back Jeremy Pied the only two squad members on the sidelines.

    Lemina sustained an ankle injury in training which has forced him to miss the last two matches, while Pied has only played four times for the club since suffering a serious knee injury towards the start of last season.

    Mauricio Pellegrino could name an unchanged side to the one which lost 1-0 to Burnley a fortnight ago, with Shane Long and James Ward-Prowse remaining on the bench alongside striker Charlie Austin.

    Nathan Redmond and James Ward-Prowse have been vying for a midfield spot since Lemina was ruled out through injury, while Long lost his place to Sofiane Boufal after the Moroccan scored virtuoso winning goal against West Brom last month.


    Head-to-head

    Southampton have won three and drawn two of their last five meetings against Liverpool, which included successive 1-0 victories in the semi-finals of last season's EFL Cup when Nathan Redmond scored the winner at St Mary's and Shane Long sealed the tie at Anfield.

    Prior to 2016, it was Liverpool who were the dominant team with four wins and a draw from the previous five matches, which included a 6-1 thrashing in the quarter-finals of the 2015-16 Capital One Cup.

    The sides have met on 36 occasions in the Premier League since the start of the 1992-93 season, with Liverpool winning 16 of the encounters to their opponent's 10 while the match-up has also seen 10 draws.

    The Reds also lead the way in terms of the overall head-to-head having recorded 51 wins and 25 draws from 106 meetings in all competitions, with Southampton winning on 30 occasions including the first ever meeting between the clubs in February 1902.

    Score Prediction

    Liverpool 3-1 Southampton
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool vs Southampton Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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