Liverpool will travel to St. Mary’s Stadium this midweek to take on Southampton, hoping to keep the Premier League title race alive.
As we enter the final stretch of the 2021/22 Premier League season, Liverpool and Manchester City continue to fight it out for the title at the top of the table. The reigning champions and table-toppers almost slipped up hugely in the race this past weekend, with West Ham United coming ever so close to defeating them, only for Pep Guardiola’s troops to rally back and secure a 2-2 draw in London on Sunday.
That result means the Cityzens have a four-point advantage over Liverpool heading into the final matchday of the season. And, the ball is in now the Reds’ court to reduce that lead to just one point when they travel to St. Mary’s to face Southampton on Tuesday night.
Fresh from their FA Cup triumph via penalty shootout win against Chelsea, Jurgen Klopp’s brigade will want to take the title race down to the wire as they continue to dream of the unprecedented quadruple. For that, they will need to win both their remaining matches against Southampton and Wolves while hoping that club legend Steven Gerrard does them a favour when his Aston Villa side face the Cityzens on Sunday.
As for Southampton, they do not have much left to play for this season, with Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side six points clear of the drop zone and five above 17th-placed Leeds United, who have just one game left. So, they are not in danger of getting dragged into the relegation battle in the final week, while a top-half finish is also beyond their reach.
The Saints will be playing for pride, as they will want to give the fans something to cheer for in their final home game of the season. But form is not on the home team’s side as they have failed to win each of their last four games (D1 L3) and have just one victory in their 11 games in all competitions. Having been hammered 3-0 by Brentford last time out, they will be hoping to produce a strong reaction and have a say in the title race.
The reverse fixture at Anfield had ended in a 4-0 triumph for Liverpool, with Diogo Jota grabbing a brace while Thiago Alcantara and Virgil van Dijk also scored. Ahead of their latest meeting at St. Mary’s on Tuesday night, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
? Fraser Forster
? Stuart Armstrong
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) May 16, 2022
Southampton have been handed a double injury boost as Fraser Forster and Stuart Armstrong have returned to training and could be in contention to feature against Liverpool. The Saints will only be without Tino Livramento for the game against Liverpool.
Southampton have had a ten-day break since their defeat to Brentford and will have had plenty of time to train and set out their strategies for the Liverpool clash. Ralph Hasenhuttl should line his team up in a 4-4-2 formation with Alex McCarthy starting between the sticks. Jan Bednarek and Mohammed Salisu will be shielding him from the centre-back positions.
Kyle Walker-Peters and Romain Perraud ought to occupy the full-back slots on the right and left sides, respectively. They will look to be aggressive and push upfield to join in on attacks when Southampton have the ball. Oriol Romeu will anchor the midfield and look to keep his Liverpool counterparts quiet with his aggression and tough-tackling nature.
James Ward-Prowse will be the main creative outlet for Southampton with his passing abilities, while he will pose a threat from his set-piece delivery as well. Nathan Redmond and Mohamed Elyounoussi ought to start on the flanks and look to make the most of any space left behind by the Liverpool full-backs. Armando Broja and Che Adams should form the strike partnership for the home team.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): McCarthy; Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Salisu, Perraud; Redmond, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Elyounoussi; Broja, Adams
Fabinho is the only confirmed absentee for Liverpool ahead of their trip to the south coast. Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson were taken off with injuries in the FA Cup final. But none of their issues are serious, and the trio could be involved in some capacity at St. Mary’s.
"We know and we feel the responsibility as a team of Liverpool FC that we have to win trophies. It feels much better that we won already two, to be honest."
The full transcript from the boss' pre-#SOULIV press conference ⤵
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 16, 2022
Given the quick turnaround between the two matches and the fact that Liverpool had to play 120 minutes on Saturday, Jurgen Klopp could opt to make some changes to his side against Southampton. There is no looking past Alisson Becker between the sticks, but Virgil van Dijk might not be risked as Klopp could go with Joel Matip and Ibrahima Konate as his centre-back pairing.
Trent Alexander-Arnold should continue at right-back, but Robertson could be held back, with FA Cup penalty shootout hero Kostas Tsimikas coming in at left-back. Captain Jordan Henderson should make way for James Milner at the base of the three-man midfield, while Naby Keita should continue in the lineup. Thiago Alcantara could also drop out of the side, with Curtis Jones taking up the third slot in midfield.
Salah is unlikely to be risked, considering the Champions League final is coming up in less than two weeks. It should pave the way for Jota to start the game, while Roberto Firmino could also come into the side at the expense of Sadio Mane. Luis Diaz ought to complete the Liverpool frontline against Southampton.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Konate, Tsimikas; Keita, Milner, Jones; Diaz, Firmino, Jota
- A Liverpool defeat would confirm Manchester City as Premier League champions.
- Southampton have lost seven of their last ten Premier League matches, as many defeats as in their first 26 fixtures of the campaign.
- Liverpool have won 18 of their 19 matches against teams currently in the bottom half of the table this season. The only occasion they dropped points in a 3-3 draw versus Brentford in September 2021.
- Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have faced defeats in four of their last five home games in the Premier League. However, they have managed to beat Tottenham and Arsenal at St. Mary’s this term while also holding Manchester United and Manchester City to draws at the venue.
- Liverpool star Mohamed Salah has been involved in ten goals in nine Premier League matches against Southampton (seven goals, three assists).
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Liverpool wouldn't be fighting for the quadruple without Luis Diaz.
What a signing. pic.twitter.com/ONdVX7HV5q
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) May 10, 2022
What an impact the Colombian international has made since he arrived in the January transfer window. Diaz has settled in so seamlessly at Liverpool that it seems like he has been at the club for years already. He was the Reds’ best player in the FA Cup final against Chelsea even though he was unfortunate not to score a goal at Wembley.
Before that, he had stepped up and delivered for the Merseysiders in the UEFA Champions League semi-final against Villarreal, showing that he can be the man for the big occasions for Liverpool. With the Reds needing a win to keep the title race alive, and Salah and Mane likely to be rested, it will be on Diaz to take his team over the line at St. Mary’s.
Southampton 0-2 Liverpool
Southampton defeated Liverpool at St. Mary’s on their previous visit in 2021 and have managed to get points off of big teams like Manchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United at home this season. Furthermore, they have had a ten-day break which will likely give them some advantage against a set of Liverpool players who will be fatigued after their exertions in the FA Cup final.
However, the Saints into the game on the back of a torrid run of form that has seen them lose four of their last six league matches. And Liverpool have not lost in the league since late December. So, even though Jurgen Klopp could rotate his troops on Tuesday night, the Merseysiders should have enough quality to secure all three points and take the title race to the final day of the season.