Southampton past takes on Southampton present when Liverpool travel to St Mary’s on Friday night. It is a game that could have big implications at both ends of the table and there’s money to be made with our same game multi.
Liverpool have looked more than a little jittery in recent weeks, with errors starting to creep into their game that simply didn’t happen earlier in the season. Alisson, a picture of composure for the majority of the season, looked unhinged against Tottenham at Anfield, while he was involved in a calamitous mix up with Virgil Van Dijk at Craven Cottage in the game before.
At the other end, the once ineffable Mohammed Salah has been misfiring drastically. With 17 league goals to his name, Salah has failed to score since the 9th of February, a run of eight games in all competitions. It is the longest barren spell by far of his Liverpool career, and it is not just his goal scoring that has deserted him. His decision-making has regressed too, and he has made countless wrong decisions in his quest to end his goal drought.
Most importantly though, Liverpool are still winning. It doesn’t matter that they’re winning ugly as long as they’re picking up three points and keeping pressure on Manchester City in the title race. Does any Liverpool fan care that goalkeeping blunders saw them sneak three points against both Fulham and Tottenham? Liverpool have failed to win a league game on their travels by more than a goal since before Christmas, but again, does anyone clad in red actually care?
It does point to a tight game on Friday night though.
Liverpool’s recent jitters, coupled with an upturn in form from Southampton, leads us to believe that this will be a close one.
Southampton have seen a marked improvement from the trainwreck that was Mark Hughes’ managerial tenure since Ralph Hasenhuttl took the reins. They are now long odds on to stay up when prospects looked extremely bleak before Christmas.
Hasenhuttl has transformed the Saints into a decent side, and they have gone to places like Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge and made life extremely difficult. They also overcame Arsenal at St Mary’s, while City were given a scare there just after Christmas.
It is likely to be a similar case on Friday night and a Liverpool team short on attacking flair might struggle to break them down. They should have just about enough though. One goal could separate them.
While Salah is experiencing the nadir of his Liverpool career, the same cannot be said for Sadio Mane. Were it not for the Senegalese forward, Liverpool would be long gone from the title race. Mane has won Liverpool eight points since the middle of January, scoring nine times in his last ten league games.
Mane has been relentless in Liverpool’s run in and has been by far the most reliable of Liverpool’s front three to find the net recently. The aforementioned Salah has been blowing more cold than hot, while Roberto Firmino – an integral link in Liverpool’s attack – has never delivered goals on a consistent basis.
Mane has proved to be the difference in several tight games in 2019 and looks a shoe in for the team of the season. Another vital goal at St Mary’s against his former club would help to secure Mane’s place in the PFA Team of the Year, but more importantly it would play a major part in Liverpool catapulting above City in the title race.