Southampton have been able to keep themselves out of the relegation conversation with only one loss in their last five games in the Premier League.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have been consistent enough to tally up a decent amount of points currently sitting 13th in the league table, only three points off the top half, which will be a relief to Saints fans after selling key players like Danny Ings in the summer.
The Saints will take on one of their most challenging fixtures this weekend against Liverpool at Anfield this weekend, with Jurgen Klopp’s side hungry to close the gap with their title competitors, Manchester City and Chelsea, it won’t be an easy game to tackle.
One bonus that will leave fans and indeed Hasenhuttl buzzing is the very welcome return of centre back Jack Stephens, who was spotted back in training yesterday ahead of the game in Merseyside.
The defender had been sidelined with a hamstring and knee problem for the last eight weeks but appears to have recovered to full fitness just in time for the weekend.
Stephens had cemented himself in Hasenhuttl’s Southampton side with a string of impressive performances that saw him nominated for the Premier League Player of the Month award previously. However, he’s found life more difficult this term after suffering an injury blow to the tendons that connect the knee and hamstring against Manchester City eight weeks ago.
The Austrian manager was full of praise after the defender put in an outstanding performance against Manchester United back in August where they held them to 1-1 draw;
“When Jack works on his defensive duels and is aggressive there, and nasty, then he is a very good centre-back.
“He is like a leader at the back at the moment, he has really fought for his position and doesn’t want to give it away so easily.
“I think at the moment he shows how important he can be for this club and this is what I need, a guy who is good on the ball but also wins his duels,” the boss concluded.
With that in mind, the return of the centre-back this weekend will be a relieving one for the manager.
After all, Hasenhuttl will be keen to hold off the likes of Mo Salah and Sadio Mane from dominating their attacking third in the game, and the emergence of Stephens and his direct approach to defensive play will certainly be a boost for the side.
Southampton will be hoping to cause an upset at Anfield and will need all their players working together to break down the title contenders in a game where a three-point win is important for both sides.
In other news: Mohamed Salah has been Saints’ nemesis in recent years