Liverpool continue to lead the way in the four-way battle for 3rd and 4th place in the Premier League. They do so, however, having played one game more than both Manchester clubs, meaning they cannot afford to drop points at this late stage.
Southampton’s season boils down to whether they can finish in the top half for a fourth successive year, despite dropping down from the sixth-placed finish and 63-point tally of last season. A trip to Wembley, for that unlucky defeat to Manchester United in the League Cup final, almost making up for a slightly disappointing campaign.
On their way to that final, the Saints kept this Sunday’s opponents goalless for 180 minutes, beating them 1-0 both home and away.
Liverpool’s last ten games have seen a return of six wins, two draws and two defeats, with the reds winning three of their last four games. Their last game at Anfield was disappointing as Crystal Palace came from behind to take the points. Most recently came a trip to Watford, in which Jurgen Klopp’s men were only successful because of an Emre Can wonder goal – his bicycle kick arguably the goal of the season.
Meanwhile, the Saints, who, along with Arsenal have a joint-high five matches still to play, have not won in three attempts. Those results include losses to Chelsea and Manchester City. A record of four wins and four defeats from their last ten isn’t so bad considering some of the opponents.
Away from home Southampton have won three of their last five, with defeats only coming at the hands of the league’s top two sides.
The last 12 meetings between the sides, who have been continuously interlinked both on and off the pitch in recent years, have given them five wins apiece. Yet this season, when including the cup games and a 0-0 draw at St Mary’s in November, Liverpool have found the Saints impossible to breakdown, despite an average of two goals a game in the league.
Both Jurgen Klopp and Claude Puel have been fairly rigid in their formation choices this season. The charismatic German prefers a 4-3-3 that allows his midfielders to attack and his forwards to interchange. On the other side, the 55-year-old Frenchman has routinely stuck with a 4-2-3-1, which has allowed his side to uphold a respectable defensive record.
Liverpool’s only new injury concern is Philippe Coutinho who was taken off early against Watford, although it is believed he will make the squad for Sunday. Fortunately for the Reds, Klopp was able to welcome back Adam Lallana in his place, meaning that Sadio Mane and Jordan Henderson are the only key players who remain out.
Claude Puel has had no major new injuries to deal with since the end of January when Virgil Van Dijk suffered a foot problem against Leicester; his absence has been understandably damaging but has allowed 23-year-old Jack Stephens a run in the side. Striker Charlie Austin, sidelined since December, has been the only long-term concern and he could return for the last three games of the season. The trip to Anfield has come too soon.
Match Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Southampton
Although the Saints have been successful in keeping Liverpool at bay three times already this season, the absence of Van Dijk means that their defence is significantly weakened. At the same time, the return of Lallana and news that Coutinho should be fine means that Klopp can select an almost full-strength side.
Liverpool will still miss the pace and creativity of Mane, who has been so influential for them since he left Southampton, but should have enough attacking options to come away with another crucial win.
Jugen Klopp wanted him in 2016, Filip Kostic set for cut-price exit
The Serbian is set to be relegated with Hamburg.
In the summer of 2016 Liverpool were being linked with the signature of Serbian winger Filip Kostic. The Independent reported that Liverpool, and Tottenham Hotspur, had both watched the player, but had missed out. Hamburg instead signed Kostic from Bundesliga rivals Stuttgart for £12 million.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp would have known all about Kostic through his Bundesliga links and seeing him move elsewhere would have been frustrating. But, nearly two years on from Kostic’s Hamburg move, Liverpool may feel they dodged a bullet.
This summer, if Liverpool still wanted Kostic, they could get him cheap. The reason why? His performances have not lived up to his ability since the Hamburg move. Now, the Bundesliga side look doomed to relegation. The result will be a firesale in the summer, as HSV look to meet financial demands. Kostic, being one of the most valuable players and highest-earners at the club, will be available.
Based on his form for Hamburg, Liverpool would be unlikely to take an interest in the player.
But, rather than dodging a bullet, perhaps this situation could work out perfectly for Klopp and Liverpool.
Whilst Kostic has had a rough time at Hamburg, a lot of that is down to the running of the club.
For the Serbian national team the 25-year-old has still been in good form and Liverpool might just be able to bring Kostic in at a cut-price.
With the World Cup coming up this summer, Kostic will look to shine. A deal for Liverpool before then may prove to be a masterstroke.
Liverpool can look at Kostic in two ways. One, a transfer failure they should be happy with. Two, an opportunity for a bargain this summer.
Either way Klopp and Liverpool cannot really lose.
One goal in 15 and battling relegation, Divock Origi’s woeful loan spell
The Belgian has struggled in German football and may not have a future at Liverpool.
Liverpool are currently in fine form and Jurgen Klopp’s side are having a great season. They look set to finish in the Premier League top four yet again and will be hoping to finish second. They have also booked themselves a place in the Champions League final eight.
That sort of brilliance is not being mirrored by one of their players currently out on loan. Divock Origi was signed by Liverpool from Lille in 2014 after impressing in France and with the Belgian national team.
The bullish forward has shown glimpses of his talent for Liverpool. Last season he played 43 times for the club, scoring 11 goals. However, Liverpool decided he would be best off elsewhere and Origi was shipped out on loan in the summer to VfL Wolfsburg.
It has certainly not worked out for the Belgian.
The team have suffered this season. After losing more key players in the summer wolfsburg have spent most of the Bundesliga campaign battling relegation. They are currently on a winless run of six games. They are currently level on points with Mainz in the final relegation spot, which involves a play-off with the third best side from 2.Bundesliga.
These were not the hopes of Wolfsburg fans before the season and Origi has not been a shining light in their dreadful campaign.
The 22-year-old has scored just five goals in 26 games this season, with just one goal in his last 15 appearances.
Such form is making it increasingly unlikely that the Liverpool forward will be heading to the World Cup with Belgium this summer, which was one of the main reasons behind the move to Germany.
Liverpool have had high hopes for Origi. But at the moment it is looking like those expectations may have been misplaced.
Origi, who went nine games without a goal at one point this season, must now improve if he is to help Wolfsburg stave off a seemingly unthinkable relegation this season.
If not, it is hard to see Origi having a future at Liverpool at all.
Is Jurgen Klopp moulding Jordan Henderson into Liverpool’s Michael Carrick?
The Liverpool midfielder is finally starting to move the ball forward in brisker fashion.
Liverpool are currently putting up a great fight in the race to be best of the rest in the Premier League this season. At the weekend they continued that form, by getting the better of Newcastle United at Anfield. Plenty of players shined in that performance, including Jordan Henderson.
The midfielder is one of English football’s more divisive figures. Finding a follower of the England national team that is a fan of Henderson can sometimes be a needle in a haystack mission.
Yet he continues to be a regular in the improving Liverpool side, but he has certainly made changes to his playing style recently.
One criticism often laid at Henderson’s door is his negative passing frequency. For many England fans, and Liverpool fans, watching Henderson pass sideways to a full-back or back to his centre-backs became a far too common occurrence. Recently, however, Henderson has become more probing.
Now the 27-year-old is changing his game and is constantly looking to get the ball forward. It helps of course that Henderson is now playing with such talents as Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. The movement in front of Henderson is becoming world-class and now he is finally starting to provide more direct ammunition.
To compare him to another player, Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick springs to mind.
The greatest attribute the 36-year-old has is that ability to get the ball and, before anything else, see if he has a pass on ahead of him.
It is a trait currently being shown by his potential long-term replacement Scott McTominay.
Henderson is finally starting to adapt his game to play in a much more forward thinking and brisk fashion.
Such expeditious play from Liverpool’s midfield maestro combines perfectly with his obvious physical ability and tackling nous.
Hopefully he can continue to become more and more like Carrick. If he does then Liverpool and England’s front-men will be extremely thankful.
Are Manchester United finding form at the perfect time?
Derby defeat to Cheltenham highlights wider issues for Swindon Town
Sevilla triumph will have Everton fans regretting Steven N’Zonzi failure
Brendan Rodgers should finally get Kyriakos Papadopoulos this summer
Amadou Haidara released by Leeds United, bringing an end to bizarre transfer chapter
Tottenham Hotspur2 weeks ago
Tottenham Hotspur must push Toby Alderweireld toward Barcelona
Liverpool2 weeks ago
Jurgen Klopp’s brave January decision is playing off thanks to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Brentford3 weeks ago
Romaine Sawyers – Blossoming in the Championship with play-off contenders Brentford
Liverpool4 weeks ago
Roberto Firmino: His performances will shape the end to Liverpool’s season
Liverpool3 weeks ago
Mohamed Salah: Is Liverpool’s Egyptian star the best player in the world right now?
Chelsea4 weeks ago
Chelsea 4-0 Hull City – Willian plays himself into Champions League contention
Liverpool2 weeks ago
Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold finds himself at the centre of Jurgen Klopp’s plans
English Premier League2 weeks ago
Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle United: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain growing into role under Jurgen Klopp