It was a tale of two matches last week for Southampton and Liverpool. While the Reds opened their 2019/20 campaign with a 4-1 win over the newly promoted Norwich City, Southampton slumped to a 3-0 defeat at Burnley. Besides the score lines, the performances from both sides greatly differed. While Liverpool were dominant in their victory over Norwich, Southampton played what may have been their worst match under manager Ralph Hasenhuttl. That said, this is a new week. Hosting their first match of the English Premier League season, the Saints will definitely be seeking a bounceback performance against the mighty Reds. Can they bounce back against the Super Cup winners, though?
Southampton Seek Bounceback Performance Against Liverpool
Dominant Liverpool to Continue Stellar Start
Opening their Premier League campaign with a huge 4-1 victory over Norwich, Liverpool served notice that they are indeed, a title favourite. Backing that up on Wednesday night in Istanbul, Liverpool also secured themselves the 2019 UEFA Super Cup when they defeated the defending Europa League Champions Chelsea on penalties.
Overall, it was a massive ego boost for an already impressive Reds’ side. Taking the match 5-4 on penalties, Liverpool saw their top playmakers rise to the occasion. Sadio Mane scored two goals during the match. Also rising to the occasion was Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino. Coming off the bench, the Brazilian assisted on both of the Reds’ goals while also converting a penalty of his own during the shootout.
Overall, despite securing victory on penalties, Liverpool were quite impressive in this match. Pairing this win with their victory over Norwich, Liverpool have the look of a well-oiled machine as they now head for St. Mary’s Stadium.
Southampton Seeking Bounceback Performance
Opening their 2019/20 campaign at Turf Moor against Burnley, many experts believed the Saints would have a rather easy opening match. How wrong they all were. Despite an average first-half performance, Southampton became unravelled once the second half began. Surrendering three second-half goals, they were truly dire in their 3-0 loss to Burnley.
Extremely upset by his team’s performance in this match, manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, reportedly had the team train on their day off while also bringing each player in for an intense set of one-on-one talks. Despite this uptick in training from the boss, the Saints look likely to be in for another tough afternoon on Saturday.
Playing host to an absolutely dominant Liverpool side, Southampton are likely to struggle in front of their home support. That said, it’s nearly impossible for the Saints to turn in a worse performance than last week’s loss. In the end, though, even a rigorous and determined training schedule from their manager may not be enough to earn Southampton a result from this weekend’s clash.
Roberto Firmino Needed as Liverpool Recover From Super Cup
Needing 120-minutes plus penalties to overcome Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup match, Liverpool have left themselves with little time to recover for this weekend’s match. With less than 48 hours until kick-off, the biggest chink in Liverpool’s armour could be their energy levels.
With Sadio Mane playing nearly 103-minutes and Mohamed Salah lasting the entire match Wednesday night, Liverpool will need another face to rise up and lead their attack. That player is likely to be Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian played just 75-minutes Wednesday night and is the freshest of Liverpool’s top three.
Expected to lack both Mane and Salah for this match, Firmino will once again need to rise to the occasion. Facing off against a fragile Saints backline, Firmino will likely impress this weekend for the Reds. Expect at least a goal if not two from the Brazilian this Saturday.
Jan Bednarek Must Lead from the Back
Taking on this Liverpool side, Southampton will be on the backfoot quite a bit in this match. Likely to be defending for much of the match, the Saints will need a massive performance from their backline to even salvage a point from this game. To get that type of performance, someone will need to step up and take a leadership role in defence.
That player should be Saints centre-back, Jan Bednarek. The Polish international has become one of Southampton’s best defenders since joining in 2017. Hands down the best centre-back in this squad, Bednarek needs to take up a major leadership role in this backline. Leading by example, if Bednarek can perform at a high level while also being the captain that this backline needs, then Southampton just may be able to salvage a result from this match.
Also of note though is left-back Ryan Bertrand. With the Saints likely to play five-at-the-back once again, the experienced left-back will need to play a key role in this match. Helping spring the counter-attack while also maintaining his defensive responsibilities, Bertrand will be needed both up and down the pitch by the Saints.
Unfortunately for the Southampton supporters, the first home match of the season will not be a good one. While there is an outside chance of a major thriller in this match, most signs point to a heavy Southampton defeat. This Liverpool side is beyond great and may just be the best club team in the world right now. Look for the Saints to put up a tough fight, but ultimately succumb to defeat.
Prediction – Southampton 1-3 Liverpool