Southampton, Potential Banana Skin
With the euphoria of Tuesday night’s win over Paris Saint-Germain still fresh in the minds of the fans, thoughts turn to Saturday’s visit of Southampton to Anfield. Having witnessed an exhilarating and pulsating Champions League 3:2 victory over the French club, expectations are sky high amongst the fans that this Liverpool team is the best since the 1987-88 season. Many fans indeed have taken to social media to express their delight at the style of football being played under Jürgen Klopp’s tutelage. Playing a style of football we last witnessed back in the 80’s this set of players are becoming legends, with a remarkable team spirit with the ghost of Shankly watching over the club, it seems we’re destined for some form of silverware, this season.
So Premier League game number six coming up against a club, who many expect to roll over against the Klopp juggernaut. Think twice, do not be too alarmed if we only draw or heaven forbid, lose against a Southampton team, currently with just one win, two draws and two defeats so far. The solitary win coming against Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace. A manager with a strong aversion to club mascots. Premier League clubs who play in a Champions League match, sometimes struggle in their next domestic match. Whether it’s as a result of playing just three to four days after a strenuous game against one of the elite of European football, with not enough recovery time to iron out any niggles picked up. Don’t get me wrong I’m hoping we’ll get through Saturday unscathed and with another three points in the bag, however the strength in depth in the squad will be called upon for the Southampton game. Last season such squad depth simply didn’t exist, it’s a signal of intent from the club and indeed FSG, that the investments they’ve made in the Summer Transfer window, show we’re adapting and building a squad to play in both the Champions League and in the Premier League with a more in depth squad.
It’s most likely that, Shaqiri and Sturridge could start in the Anfield 3pm kick off. I would also like to see Naby Keïta return to the team in place of Jordan Henderson. Firmino could continue his recovery from his eye injury, despite coming on to score the winner in the 92nd minute of injury time, during the week against PSG. Jordan Henderson played a blinder last Tuesday, but. Keïta is a robust, pacy player who quickly gets forward. He established himself as one of the best midfielders in the Bundesliga, as a box to box midfielder. He can cause Southampton some serious damage. The back four virtually picks itself these days. Although Klopp may consider one change this Saturday, due to the heavy upcoming schedule of five games in over 16 days. Alberto Moreno may get a runout with Andy Robertson rested.
I would be surprised if Klopp picks Fabinho, whom is still adapting to the new responsibilities expected of him in his role playing under a new system. Lovren isn’t really being missed at all, with Ragnar Klavan, joining Serie A outfit, Cagliari to gain regular football, Dejan Lovren is a great backup to call upon when fit again.
The Southampton game is a potential banana skin, What with the fab trio of Mane, Firmino and Salah not quite at their explosive best yet. Hopefully there’ll be no hangover from our midweek exertions. The Saints do possess two strikers, Shane Long and Danny Ings who can trouble any team. We’re familiar with our former player Ings, who scored last Monday for Southampton. However Ings isn’t eligible for today’s game according to the Liverpool club website:
‘Ings, who has netted three times in five Premier League appearances for Mark Hughes’ team, is ineligible due to the terms of the initial loan agreement that took him from Merseyside to the south coast last month.’
Shane Long has a habit of scoring against big teams, notably against 2014 World Champions, Germany for Republic of Ireland in a Euro 2016 qualifying game in a one nil victory over the Germans.
I’d expect to see an early Liverpool goal if we press early, if not then patience is the game. Salah will be anxious to get on the scoresheet again to get his campaign going, alongside Mane who’s got four goals in five league games. Having a rejuvenated Daniel Sturridge is a godsend for Klopp. With tough games against Chelsea and Manchester City on the horizon and Napoli in the Champions League there will definitely be some changes for the Southampton game.