Southampton will be desperate to bounce back from their appalling start to the new Premier League season when they welcome Liverpool to St Mary’s on Saturday.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side were well beaten 3-0 by Burnley last weekend, with defensive frailties proving costly once again as an Ashley Barnes double and a Johann Berg Gudmundsson finish settled the score.
Saints face Liverpool in their first home game of the new campaign, where they will be hoping to take advantage of the fact the Reds had to play 90 minutes plus extra-time and penalties in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday evening against Chelsea in Turkey.
Having had a full week to recover and prepare, Saints should feel ready for this game and determined to set things straight.
Liverpool have also had some injury worries to deal with as of late. After Allison suffered an injury against Burnley, Adrian has been cast into doubt after being injured by a fan following their Super Cup victory.
This could pave the way for third-choice 35-year-old Andy Lonergan to come into the side to face Saints.
Regardless of this, Liverpool will still prove to be stern opposition having shown their superiority in Europe and in the league last season.
Southampton will need to be at their very best to get any sort of result in the game, but in which areas could the game be won or lost? Here are the key battles.
Adams v Van Dijk
Saints new boy Che Adams seems to have enjoyed his start to life on the South Coast, bagging three goals in pre-season.
He made his Premier League debut against Burnley, and although he couldn’t find the back of the net during his 73-minute cameo, he showed promising signs of his ability.
Everybody knows the quality possessed by Reds defender Virgil van Dijk, so finding chances will be tough for Adams, but his speed and clinical eye for goal could still cause plenty of problems for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Vestergaard v Salah
After featuring on the left-hand side of a back three against Burnley, Jannik Vestergaard could end up with the difficult task of keeping Mohamed Salah quiet.
The prolific Egyptian has begun the season where he left off, having scored one and created another in his side’s 4-1 victory over newcomers Norwich City in the Premier League curtain-raiser.
Danso v Firmino
Southampton’s deadline day arrival Kevin Danso could be handed his first start for the club, potentially slotting into the middle of the back three.
He will most likely face Roberto Firmino but will be hoping to impress, using his strength and anticipation to keep the Brazilian out of the game.
With Liverpool boasting strong firepower in attack, Firmino is the figurehead; he scores goals and creates plenty of chances for himself and his teammates.
Saints’ defence will be very busy come kick-off, but if they keep Liverpool’s attack at bay, they have every chance of picking up their first points of the season.
Hojbjerg v Fabinho
Saints skipper Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg could come up against Fabinho after the Brazilain started in a holding-midfield role for Liverpool against Norwich.
The clash of these two midfielders could be crucial, with both preferring to take their time on the ball, playing passes forward or wide to build up attacks.
If Hojbjerg can get the better of Fabinho, Saints could have the upper hand going forward, with the Dane also liking to burst forward and make a nuisance of himself in attack.
Redmond v Alexander-Arnold
Having won Southampton’s Player of the Season award last term, Redmond still looks like he’s oozing with confidence. The winger’s pace and skill cause full-backs all kinds of problems, allowing chances to be created from the left.
Trent Alexander-Arnold occupies Liverpool’s right-back position so is likely to stand in Redmond’s way. The 20-year-old has brilliant defensive qualities, as well as the ability to burst down the wing and deliver some inviting crosses.
Redmond will need to be on top of his game to ensure chances can be created for Saints. Otherwise, they will struggle to test Liverpool’s goalkeeper.
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