Premier League leaders Liverpool can pick up their fourth consecutive victory when they travel to St Marys to take on Southampton this weekend (3pm Saturday).
Liverpool climbed above Manchester City and to the summit of the standings when they thrashed Watford 6-0 before the international break. It was another stunning attacking performance from the Reds, who recorded the most shots on target (17) in a Premier League match since such statistics began in 2003.
Watford were simply unable to cope with their opponents’ mesmerising mobility and fluidity going forward, with the likes of Philippe Coutinho (pictured), Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Adam Lallana all extremely difficult to stop. Liverpool have now scored a remarkable 30 goals in their 11 games so far this term, with their attacking output having made up for their defensive deficiencies. It is little wonder that Liverpool have shortened to second favourites for the title behind Man City in the Premier League odds tables.
Southampton suffered defeat in their previous top flight encounter a fortnight ago, going down 2-1 to Hull City at the KCOM Stadium. Claude Puel’s men took the lead through a Charlie Austin penalty in the sixth minute but were undone by two quick-fire strikes from Robert Snodgrass and Michael Dawson.
It is now three Premier League encounters on the bounce without a win for Saints, who had previously avoided defeated in five consecutive games. Overall, though, Southampton will be reasonably content with the manner in which they have begun the campaign, particularly as they are also seeking to balance domestic achievement with progress in the Europa League. With that in mind, a return of 13 points from a possible 33 will be considered acceptable by the vast majority of the club’s fans.
Liverpool will have to make do without Danny Ings (knee), Joe Gomez (calf) and Sheyi Ojo (back), but Dejan Lovren has recovered from illness and is available for selection once more. Daniel Sturridge will probably have to settle for a place on the substitutes’ bench once again, with Coutinho, Firmino and Mane set to continue as Jurgen Klopp’s front three. Emre Can will keep his place in midfield ahead of Georginio Wijnaldum. Liverpool will look to play on the front foot at St Marys – only Manchester City have averaged more possession in 2016/17 – but also have the tools to do significant damage on the counter-attack.
Saints will be missing Alex McCarthy (hamstring) and Joel Pied (knee), but Shane Long and Matt Targett are hoping to recover from hamstring issues in time to feature and Dusan Tadic should play despite breaking his nose. Puel has alternated between 4-4-2 diamond and 4-3-3 formations since replacing Ronald Koeman as Southampton boss, with the positioning of Tadic – either on the left wing or in a No.10 role – the key difference between the two. The Frenchman will probably opt for the 4-4-2 configuration, with Oriol Romeu, Jordi Clasie and Steven Davis set to play important roles in the centre of midfield.
Turning to thoughts of our preview’s betting tips, it is difficult to look past another Liverpool victory at St Marys on Saturday afternoon, with the Premier League leaders looking irresistible at present. Although Southampton possess one of the best defensive records in the top tier – Puel’s side’s backline has been breached on only 12 occasions, fewer than every other team but Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City. This clash could feature its fair share of goals, so backing an away win with over 3.5 strikes netted in total looks an interesting proposition for our war with the bookmakers. It is particularly worth noting that the Reds’ 11 Premier League matches this season have featured an average of four goals per game. Coutinho appeals as the best choice at the odds to find the back of the net at anytime.
So here is our preview’s betting tips’ advice: