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Match Preview: Liverpool vs Southampton

It’s a battle between two former Bundesliga managers who’ve changed their clubs’ fortunes, as Jürgen Klopp’s title-challenging Reds travel to St. Mary’s to take on Ralph Hasenhüttl’s rebranded Southampton side.

Two sides with plenty of interclub history meet on Saints’ turf in a Friday evening kick-off.

Last meeting

Liverpool piled on a trio of first-half goals en route to a comfortable 3-0 win at Anfield in September.

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Xherdan Shaqiri stole the show, forcing an own-goal from Wesley Hoedt to open the scoring.

His thunderous free-kick moments later was turned home off the line by Mohamed Salah to make it 3-0 at the stroke of half-time. Subsequently, Joel Matip added his only marker of the season.

Team news

Liverpool are nearing full-strength heading into the final half-dozen games of the season.

The most notable injury news comes with Klopp dismissing any fitness concerns surrounding Virgil van Dijk. The Dutchman appeared to be labouring in the wake of Sunday’s 2-1 win over Tottenham.

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Dejan Lovren and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were also amongst the names in training. Xherdan Shaqiri rejoined his teammates after an injury withdrawal prior to the international break.

There is still no clear timetable for the return of Joe Gomez, though the Englishman appears to be making strides.

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Southampton will likely be without the services of centre-back Jannik Vestergaard. He missed the Saints’ last outing with a groin strain and has yet to return to full training.

The Dane joins the likes of Mario Lemina, Michael Obafemi and Shane Long on the sidelines. Liverpool loanee Danny Ings is ineligible to play against his parent club.

Form

Southampton: W-W-L-W-L

Liverpool: W-W-W-D-W

Predicted XI’s

Southampton have been playing largely in a 3-5-2 formation under Hasenhüttl. However, the absence of Vestergaard coupled with Liverpool’s rampant results against a back three might force the German to change his tune.

He may well revert to his preferred 4-2-2-2 formation — a hallmark of his time at RB Leipzig — though with some enforced personnel tweaks.

Southampton XI (4-2-2-2): Gunn, Valery, Bednarek, Yoshida, Bertrand, Romeu, Höjbjerg, Ward-Prowse, Armstrong, Austin

Klopp has been keen on a return to last season’s 4-3-3 in recent months, so it’s unlikely to see a change. Still, the 4-2-3-1 remains a viable option if he hopes to field a more offensive lineup.

Fabinho’s cameo against Tottenham further reinforced his first-team credentials, while Shaqiri and Naby Keita are available to provide some midfield dynamism and creativity against what could be a very defensive Southampton side. Expect at least one to start, with Keita potentially lining up opposite his former boss.

Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Alisson, Robertson, van Dijk, Matip, Alexander-Arnold, Keita, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Mané, Firmino, Salah

Alex Mansfield
Co-owner, editor-in-chief of LFC Transfer Room. @el_mansfield on Twitter. Love a good, civilized debate!

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