On the back of a crucial victory last weekend, Southampton will want to keep the momentum going when they host Liverpool in English soccer’s Premier League at St Mary’s (11:30am ET, Sunday).
Confidence was low and supporter unrest was growing ahead of Southampton’s trip to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. They had failed to win in 12 matches and despite a few credible performances against bigger teams, had slipped into the relegation zone.
When they went behind early on at the Hawthorns, it seemed their poor run would continue. Instead, they fought back strongly, reversed the scoreline by half-time, added a third 10 minutes into the second half and then held on well to secure the three points despite their hosts pulling one back with over a quarter-hour still to play. The 3-2 win was a vital one.
Embattled coach Mauricio Pellegrino admitted as much afterwards and suggested that the result would help boost the “belief and confidence” of his players. He was, though, quick to note that his side need to maintain that same performance level throughout the remainder of the season, most importantly in their upcoming fixtures against fellow relegation battlers.
If Pellegrino can begin to draw more consistent performances from Mario Lemina, scorer of a long-range screamer against West Brom; if January, club-record signing Guido Carrillo can help tie together the attack; and if strong relationships can be built across the defensive unit now that Virgil Van Dijk has left to join Sunday’s opponents, Southampton should be alright.
Those are a lot of ifs, but in combination with underlying statistics that suggest Southampton been slightly unfortunate not to pick up more points than they have to date, they provide hope that their end to the campaign will be sufficiently strong to stave off relegation.
Liverpool are involved in a tight battle of their own at the other end of the table. Just two points separate them, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur in third, fourth and fifth, while they still maintain hope of overhauling long-term rivals Manchester United – five points ahead in second.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were involved in an exciting and controversial 2-2 draw with Tottenham last weekend. They took an early lead through Mohamed Salah but were unable to build on that advantage and eventually found themselves penned in by their visitors. Spurs equalised in the 80th minute, prior to a crazy final stretch that saw Salah weave through to give Liverpool a late lead, only for Tottenham to level again from the penalty spot.
Klopp was far from happy with the performance of the officials, but while their decisions could certainly be disputed, the final result was a fair one on the balance of play in what was the hardest of Liverpool’s remaining home matches. The final six are all against sides currently placed ninth or lower, giving them the chance to end the season strongly at Anfield.
Liverpool’s away form has only been marginally worse than their home form so far this season, but their road fixtures have been far more chaotic affairs. Liverpool’s home matches have averaged 2.77 goals, with Liverpool averaging 2.08 of those. Their away matches have averaged 4.15 goals, with Liverpool averaging 2.46 of them. As an away team, they seem to rely on their stellar attack to outscore their opponents in back and forth encounters.
Why not when only Manchester City have scored more goals than their total of 59 so far this season? Indeed, Liverpool have scored over twice as many goals as their hosts on Sunday, with Salah’s individual tally of 21 putting him second in the Premier League’s scoring rankings, just one behind Harry Kane of Tottenham, and just seven shy of Southampton’s team total.
Klopp’s side put three past the Saints in a comfortable 3-0 win at Anfield in November in which Salah scored twice. Southampton have managed to hold Tottenham and Arsenal to a draw at St Mary’s this season, but it is difficult to see them repeating the trick this weekend. Liverpool’s attack should be able to power them to victory in a relatively high-scoring match.
Our Preview’s Southampton vs. Liverpool Betting Picks & Predictions
Here is our selection for this English Premier League soccer matchup, having taken a look at the available odds from the sports betting sites for American players.