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    Southampton vs Liverpool Match Preview


    Southampton and Liverpool meet at St Mary's in the Premier League on Sunday, with both teams coming into the game in vital need of a victory for differing reasons.

    The Saints could climb to 13th in the table if they follow-up last weekend's win over West Brom with another three points, while their opponents have the chance to consolidate their position in the top-four.

    Liverpool, who have six former Southampton players in their ranks including recent £75 million signing Virgil van Dijk, had struggled against their South Coast opponents in recent times before finally winning at Anfield earlier in the season.

    Southampton

    Southampton have steadily improved over recent weeks after enduring a poor run of form towards the end of 2017, with their tally of six points from four unbeaten league games taking the club outside the relegation zone.

    The Saints had occupied a comfortable position of 10th in the table following a 4-1 victory over Everton in November, but that was followed by a winless sequence of 12 league matches which continued well into the new year.

    The scrutiny that boss Mauricio Pellegrino was under following their poor run of form was tempered somewhat by a safe passage through to the fifth round of the FA Cup, while league performances started to improve by the start of 2018.

    After draws against Watford, Tottenham and Brighton, Pellegrino's team finally won in the Premier League against West Brom last weekend, with Mario Lemina, Jack Stephens and James Ward-Prowse all on target.

    Southampton have fared reasonably well this season against the "big six" sides having drawn against Arsenal, Manchester United and Spurs as well as being only seconds away from securing a draw at Manchester City.

    They had also boasted an impressive record against Liverpool over recent seasons before November's 3-0 defeat at Anfield ended a five-match unbeaten run against Jurgen Klopp's team.

    Charlie Austin is the club's top-scorer so far this campaign with six goals, while midfielder James Ward-Prowse has chipped in with four and Steven Davis, Manolo Gabbiadini, Jack Stephens and Dusan Tadic have all scored three-apiece.

    Liverpool

    Liverpool begin a significant week in the club's recent history with a tricky fixture at St Mary's, where The Reds haven't tasted victory in the league since Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling scored in a 2-0 win back in February 2015.

    Sunday's encounter will then be followed three days later by a Champions League tie against two-time winners Porto, with the club taking part in the knockout stage for the first time since the 2008-09 campaign.

    Jurgen Klopp may opt to rest one or two key players in preparation for Wednesday's trip to the Estadio do Dragao, although the need to make wholesale changes has been somewhat reduced by the club's 10-day inactivity after the fixture.

    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Georginio Wijnaldum should return to the side, while Adam Lallana could also be in contention despite receiving a red card for violent conduct in a recent under 23s match against Tottenham.

    The Reds will be eager to return to winning ways following last weekend's controversial 2-2 draw against Tottenham having succumbed to a Harry Kane equaliser with virtually the last kick of the match.

    Spurs' win over Arsenal on Saturday has once again thrown the gauntlet down for Liverpool to respond, although a point against Southampton would be good enough to elevate Klopp's side back up to third in the table on goals scored.

    Former Southampton players Virgil van Dijk, Dejan Lovren, Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana and Oxlade-Chamberlain have all been named in the squad ahead of Sunday's match although Nathaniel Clyne remains on the comeback trail.

    Southampton Team News

    Southampton are likely to name the same line-up to the one which started against West Brom last weekend, with new signing Guido Carrillo continuing in attack following his £19 million move from Monaco.

    Midfielders Sofiane Boufal and Mario Lemina are also expected to keep their places having displaced Steven Davis and Pierre Hojbjerg in the team last weekend, while Shane Long misses out having been dropped in favour of Carrillo.

    Manolo Gabbiadini is still a doubt with a hip problem, although he has been named in the Southampton squad ahead of this weekend's encounter and could be fit enough for a place on the bench.

    Charlie Austin will play no part, however, as the striker has not featured since December 23 due to a hamstring injury and he is not expected to return to first-team action for several weeks.

    Liverpool Team News

    Virgil van Dijk will make his first appearance at St Mary's since a £75 million move from Southampton in January, although Jurgen Klopp may still decide to rest one or two of his other key players ahead of Wednesday's trip to Porto.

    Former Southampton midfielder Adam Lallana is expected to feature after recovering from a thigh problem, while Dejan Lovren has shaken-off a muscle injury and should line-up in central defence alongside van Dijk.

    Alberto Moreno is also ready to make his Premier League return having not started in the competition for over two months due to a muscle problem but right-back Joe Gomez has still not fully recovered from a minor knee injury.

    Ragnar Klavan is a slight doubt having sustained a thigh strain, while Nathaniel Clyne remains on the comeback trail following a back problem that has caused him to miss the first two-thirds of the season.

    Head-to-head

    Liverpool's 3-0 victory at Anfield in November ended a 33-month wait for a league victory over The Saints, with Mohamed Salah scoring a brace and Philippe Coutinho rounding-off proceedings with his side's third goal.

    Southampton went into the match on a five-game unbeaten run against The Reds, which included a 1-0 victory in each leg of the EFL Cup semi-finals in 2016 and two 0-0 draws in the league last season.

    The Saints have won 10 and drawn a further 10 matches against Sunday's opponents in the Premier League since the competition began in 1992, while Liverpool have been victorious in 17 of the 37 encounters.

    Jurgen Klopp's side also lead the all-time head-to-head having won 52 matches against their South Coast opponents and drawn a further 25 times, although Southampton have been victorious on 30 occasions themselves.

    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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