Reds manager Brendan Rodgers was left incensed after Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat by Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Wednesday, believing his side were denied two ‘clear’ penalties. As has been the case for much of the season, Rodgers’ side were unlucky to go 2-0 down early on after strikes from Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale, but the officials did little to appease the Northern Irishman with Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez harshly denied penalties.
Rodgers insisted his side were ‘magnificent’ and could not have played any better than they did, but both he and Liverpool are in the business of results and they are not falling for the club at the moment. Back-to-back draws against Swansea and Young Boys in the Europa League as well as a run of only one win in nine matches may belie the general quality of Liverpool’s play, but that alone will not suffice for much longer.
All that makes Saturday’s clash a must-win for Liverpool against a Southampton side that has not lost in their past four games and has endured perhaps an even worse run of luck.
Defensive errors have blighted the promoted side’s campaign so far with both their draws in the latest undefeated run – versus Swansea 1 – 1 and Norwich 1 – 1 on Wednesday – coming courtesy of goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga blunders after Southampton had taken the lead. Indeed the Saints have dropped more points (16) from winning positions than any other side in the Premier League this season.
Comprehensive wins over QPR and Newcastle in between these draws appeared to instil plenty of belief amongst a talented group, particularly in defence where the Saints have conceded a league-worst 31 goals. A first clean sheet against Newcastle proved a turning point and aside from keeping errors the defence has tightened up considerably with only three goals conceded in Southampton’s past four games.
Nigel Adkins could regain left-back Danny Fox (knee) for the clash and will be relying on trio Rickie Lambert, Gaston Ramirez and captain Adam Lallana (nine league goals between them) to do the damage up front.
With a threadbare squad, Liverpool rely on Suarez (10 league goals) more than any team relies on a single player in the league and will need more goals from the Uruguayan.
Both sides love to maintain possession and interchange players in the final third but the last time Southampton came up against a side with a similar philosophy in Arsenal, they were thrashed 6-1.
Prediction: Liverpool 2 – 1 Southampton