Southampton vs Liverpool | Monday 4th January 2021, 20:00 | Sky Sports
Premier League leaders Liverpool travel to the south coast to face Southampton, in the final game of matchweek 17.
Jürgen Klopp will have been frustrated to see his side held to a goalless draw at Newcastle, yet it was a game that could have gone either way. The Reds spurned at least three golden opportunities, while Alisson was forced into a couple of saves to stop them falling to defeat.
Southampton’s nil-nil draw at Fulham on Boxing Day was their first in all comps since January, 2nd 2019. And yet they’re like London buses after failing to break down the West Ham defence making it back-to-back stalemates.
There is some good news coming out of St Mary’s. Ralph Hasenhüttl returns to the dugout after missing the draw with West Ham. And secondly, Stuart Armstrong has signed a new deal with the club.
But Southampton have a dismal record against Liverpool, losing their last six Premier League meetings, scoring just twice and conceding 17 goals over that time. So, can Hasenhüttl crack the code this time around?
The betting angles
The Saints are now winless in their last four games and have failed to score in their last three, although VAR chalked a couple of goals off at Fulham.
That’ll be a concern to Hasenhüttl, and there is a reliance on James Ward-Prowse’s set-piece delivery to unlock opposition defences. And that’s highlighted by their expected goals for (xGF) data. It ranks them 15th of 20 with only Sheffield United, Newcastle, Burnley and West Brom having lower figures.
While their attacking output is overachieving having scored 25 goals from an output of 17.7xGF, the defence is resolute and that’s their hope here of keeping Liverpool at arm’s length. Their 20.0xGA (expected goals against) matches that of tonight’s visitors (20.1xGA), while Aston Villa, Chelsea and Man City only better it.
The one positive for Southampton is that Liverpool’s build-up play has been rather methodical and staccato in recent games, plus there have been lots of crosses into the box from Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
When you see Liverpool struggle to find a second against West Brom, then a few days later Leeds play with tempo, rhythm and flood bodies forward, netting four in the first 40 minutes, highlighted the difference between those two sides right now.
Despite having a fully fit front three, Klopp might want to tweak things to mix it up – that’s what worked for him at Crystal Palace.
I can see this being a close, low-scoring contest, so I’ll have a play on the draw at 7/2. Other than their demolition of Crystal Palace, the reigning champions haven’t been putting sides to the sword.
The Reds have drawn six times this season in the Premier League, with five of those have come in their last six away games. And, if you take in their final Champions League game, then they’ve shared the spoils in four of their last six games.
Southampton generally keep it tight at the back. They conceded just three goals in six games during December, and that defensive fortitude will help them here. They’ve drawn three of their last four, and with the way Liverpool have struggled to break down stout backlines, then a point apiece looks like the way to go.
The other play here is a Bet Builder. I can’t see this being a high-scoring contest, and with Andre Marriner in charge, the card count should be equally as low. The angle is under 4 match goals, under 4 match cards, over 0 cards for Southampton.
Marriner has shown fewer than four cards in eight of his 12 games in all comps. And this will be his third game in charge of Southampton this season – the two previous saw just three cards.
No side has picked up fewer cards than Liverpool, so that should stand us in good stead for a low card count as well. Only Leeds failed to pick up a card against Liverpool. Meanwhile, Southampton have picked up at least one caution in seven of their eight home games this term – across all league games they average 1.5 cards per game.
With two defences likely to be on top, we should see few goals. 12 of Southampton’s 16 league games have seen under four goals, and that’s been the case in nine of Liverpool’s last 11.
The Reds haven’t been as deadly in front of goal, then this Bet Builder which pays 2/1 holds plenty of appeal.
It’s an intriguing game on paper and gave me a few different angles of attack. One play I’ll wait for teams news for is Georginio Wijnaldum to have a shot from outside the box at 43/20 (Pokerstars).
He made a late cameo off the bench against Newcastle, so I’d imagine he’d return to the starting XI here. If alongside Jordan Henderson and Thiago in a midfield three, I’d imagine the Dutchman will have more licence to get forward.
It’s 12 shots recorded in 14 starts so far, half of which have been from outside the 18-yard box. That includes a blocked effort in the 1-1 draw at Fulham and his goal against Wolves.
There are limited names in the Whoscored.com man of the match market, but if the Southampton centre-backs become available, then they might be worth a look. Both will be busy if they want to keep Liverpool out.
Jack Stephens has come in for the injured Jannik Vestergaard in the last two games. He’s got ratings of 7.3 v West Ham (highest of the Saints’ players) and 7.5 v Fulham. So, that’s one to keep an eye on.