Liverpool aiming to pull away from chasing pack against a mixed Southampton side
Liverpool to win 3-1
After a start to the season that has seen almost all teams suffer from huge ups and downs, Liverpool have finally been caught at the top of the table after Manchester United pulled an impressive run of form together.
Although top still on goal difference, Liverpool’s form of late has allowed other teams to come back into the running, with Leicester and Tottenham also pushing them hard. Manchester City can go within a point if they win their games in hand.
That said, with the huge number of injuries Liverpool have suffered, Jurgen Klopp has done an excellent job of keeping the standards high throughout the whole squad. He’ll want to start the New Year with a bang.
Southampton, on the whole, have been one of the best teams of the season so far. They’ve taken points off sides at both ends of the table, but have struggled in recent weeks, and are without a win in four.
Form Guide (all comps): WDLDD
Reasons to be cheerful:
Manager Hasenhuttl is free to return to dugout after Covid-19 isolation
Ings is expected to lead the line once again after injury
Reasons to be fearful:
Only scored once in last four matches
Are on their longest winless streak of the season
The Saints’ best run of the season, where they won five out of six matches, saw them rise, very briefly at least, to the top of the Premier League.
Danny Ings, Southampton’s top scorer, was instrumental in that period, but it has been his absence which has hindered their recent performances. With just one goal in their last four matches, Southampton need to start scoring again.
With Liverpool’s defence taking a beating in terms of injuries lately, the Saints could be able to take advantage here. It’ll certainly help that their manager will be back on the touchline for this one after having to isolate after a Covid-19 scare last week.
The Saints have taken points off Everton, Chelsea and Arsenal among others this season already. Can they go one better here?
Star Man – Danny Ings
Has the quality to get in behind and punish Liverpool’s makeshift back four.
Form Guide (all comps): DWWDD
Reasons to be cheerful
Having Thiago back in midfield is a huge boost
Remain unbeaten in last 12 matches
Reasons to be fearful
Makeshift defence will give Saints hope
Struggled to create too many chances in last two games
It will be interesting to see Liverpool’s response now that their biggest historic rivals have moved level on points with them at the top of the table.
Despite Liverpool not hitting top gear like last season, they had the comfort of a gap between them and the chasing pack, until the other day when United won their 8th game out of 10. The Reds were eight points clear after 16 matches last season, but have several teams also vying for the hot spot this time around.
Liverpool should have more control in this match now that Thiago has returned from injury. When the Spanish playmaker came on against Newcastle, he ran the game and almost inspired his side to victory.
The Reds will be confident of victory in their opening match of the new calendar year – on only two occasions have they lost in the last 31 years at the start of the year.
Star Man – Mo Salah
He likes playing Southampton, having scored seven goals in his five appearances against the club
Liverpool will dominate possession
The Reds are favourites though Saints can be dangerous
Will be interesting if Southampton score first
Perhaps Liverpool will use the incentive of pulling away once more from Manchester United at the top of the table as motivation to find a win here.
With no win in their last two matches, Klopp will want Liverpool to go full throttle at Southampton here, while also knowing that the Saints can cause problems themselves.
This could be a tighter game than it would have been in previous seasons, but Liverpool should have enough to earn the win.
Liverpool to win 3-1